Insight Buzz Kill

How many times have you heard the words “deep” and “rich” to describe the insights a research company provides for you?  You’ll find these words on our website because they give us a quick and accurate way to differentiate our insight work.  Without context, they can appear to be just buzzwords that we like to throw around instead of providing an understanding of how our research methods can benefit you. We don’t speak for all companies doing qualitative research, but here’s what a rich or deep insight means to Seek.


It’s like pulling water from a deep well rather than dipping a cup into a puddle.

Traditional insights tend to skim along the top of the consumer’s life paying attention to the topical parts of his or her life. They often give us obvious and probably one-time solutions. An empathic insight is informed by going deep into the consumer’s experience to uncover the tensions and motivators that reside in the subconscious mind. It’s from this place of depth and connection that we find multiple opportunities to engage with and serve this consumer. A “deep” or “rich” insight is the well from which you can continually draw ideas.


For example, a specialty retailer wants to attract a specific group of people. The obvious approach is to research which brands are important to them and carry those brands in-store. Using an empathic approach and immersive research, we discover that the brands themselves are actually not enough to attract this consumer. This consumer wants authenticity. Expertise in the category is of primary importance to them.  Digging deeper, we define what authenticity and expertise means to them. As we synthesize the research and identify patterns, many opportunities such as staff training, services, marketing communication and community involvement are revealed. The retailer can continue to come back to this rich insight to generate ideas for long-term and meaningful engagement with this consumer.


It tells you why.

Quantitative data is important. We know that you also need to go further in your research to uncover the why behind the data. It is good to know that 70% of your target consumers aren’t responding to an ad concept or a product feature, but if you don’t know why, it will take longer to innovate for them. The “why” can often be found in the subconscious mind. Our methods are designed to identify non-verbal cues and emotional content that add depth to your insights.


It reminds you that your consumer is a real person & changes behavior.

When you have a more complete picture of your consumer, they are no longer a statistic like 35% of people or the 50 year old white male demographic. They are humans with real lives. They have feelings and thoughts that you can relate to because the insight activated your empathy and imagination. The insight becomes inspiration for you to advocate for your consumers and share their stories. It serves as motivation for Innovators to create something significant. The marketing team is excited to develop communication that resonates. Your organization can begin to move from the traditional brand-to-buyer mentality to a human-to-human relationship. Innovating from this “deep” and “rich” understanding of your consumers leads to meaningful engagement that makes your brand more relevant.

Unleashing Creativity

“Sorry, we don’t talk about the juice.”   I’d been admiring the consistent excellence of this Creative Director’s work, so I asked him, how do you do it?  If he had a formula, he wasn’t going to share it. I understood his hesitation. Creativity is vast and untamable; no one can claim to have found the single path to enabling it. The truth is, there is no such thing as “the juice”.

In my work I see creativity evaporating from client teams who are under pressure to deliver the next “big idea” and meet the demands of a fast-paced marketplace. They are often exhausted and uninspired by what they are creating.  I began to think more about the source of creativity and saw a need for a framework designed to advance the creative capacity of our client teams and open pathways to lead them to new ideas.


What I’m about to share is a drop of Seek’s juice, not the juice. It’s our way of enabling creativity. We spent a year curating creativity principles that are anchored in human sciences and our own trial & error. These creative principles are at the heart of Edison, our signature ideation program, and they bring an informed intentionality to the process.  


A drop of our “juice”

Empathy / Human Insight:  Great ideas resolve a real human tension.  When this tension is clear, the target is easier to spot and hit.  Ideas are assessed against the human tension; not what’s most appealing to the person in charge of the team.  More specifically, empathy offers a powerful lens for enabling relevant and resonant ideas.


Failure:  Learning from our failures is far less inspiring than proactively imagining the failure. Imagining cartoonishly bad outcomes is not only easier for our minds, it is revealing of the most important levers to play with. If I’m creating a new sports drink, I might say that drinking 93 octane gasoline would be a really bad idea for giving me energy. Gasoline causes burning, nausea, vomiting and many other bad symptoms. Of course, I don’t want my sports drink to make me vomit, but it does expose an interesting lever: nausea.  What if a sports drink could allow me to push my body further than the point when I usually feel nauseous? Now, that’s a great idea for an athlete trying to push through a plateau and it gives you an unexpected foundation from which to create something new and different.


Our holistic approach to ideation is making a difference and helping to advance innovation. The ideas generated in the process stay true to the insight that inspired them and our client teams are feeling inspired and invigorated.  You can learn more about Edison HERE.  


You can also reach out to Lara Hawketts for more information.  Contact Lara

Greg Hewitt is the Innovation Director at Seek.  He is known for developing programs that help our clients to identify the right problems to solve and create ideas for innovation that truly impacts the lives of people.  Greg’s love of people, leadership, creativity and communication coupled with his optimistic mindset are delivering powerful results for Seek’s clients.

A New View On Big Ideas

After a 23 year career in brand marketing and general management with a top Fortune 50 company, I joined Seek to head up our Brand Strategy team.  In my role here, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with a variety of brands and use my experience to help them generate insight-infused BIG IDEAS that attract consumers, build brand equity and transform innovation and communication. I love doing this work!


In fact, my experience at Seek has given me a new perspective on the time I spent in the world of brand marketing and a couple of simple truths have become clearer, giving me a new perspective into what I would do differently if I could go back in time to brand marketing.


Significant Focus on Big Ideas


First and without a doubt, I would dedicate more time and effort to personally creating big ideas for my brand. This work is often delegated to the brand teams, agencies and other partners, but I realize now that big ideas aren’t just about capturing the hearts and dollars of consumers in the super-saturated digital age. They can actually help to overcome much of the inertia and belabored transactions that take up so much of the workday within a company.


I’m not talking about descriptive concepts, benefits and RTB’s or even great in-store claims, but creative BIG IDEAS that have a provocative, sticky hook and expand the minds and hearts of the consumers in the direction of your brand. I’m talking about an idea like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that quite literally soaked our nation & garnered global support and awareness for their organization.


The challenge is that Big Ideas are most often created too late, or sometimes never at all. However, if you get them at the right time, (early!) they can change the dialogue between the global brand team, regional business units and sales force from the typical internal negotiations to an enthusiastic “Wow, let’s make this even bigger!” and “Let’s bring this to consumers and retailers faster!”


So yes, if I could go back in time I would personally commit more of ME, my mind space, my team and agency resources to focusing early and often on turning smart strategies into tight, simple but magical big ideas. When you start with the big idea, you have your North Star to shine its light on the benefits, RTBs, claims, packaging, creative brief and everything else that makes for a holistic and killer innovation launch.


Empathic Insights Fuel Big Ideas That Matter


My time at Seek has also reminded me of another simple truth that I too readily lost sight of in my day-to-day work in brand marketing -– that often the greatest source for a big idea comes not from trends or new technology, but directly from the person we are in business to serve, the remarkable human being who is so much more than just “the consumer”.


So if I could go back in time, I would dig more for human insights laced with emotion, tension and relevance to my consumer and then make it a top priority for me and my team to focus on activating those insights into big ideas for my brand.


Creating big ideas that are rooted in consumer insights has become my passion, and the focus of the brand strategy work we’re doing at Seek. With a strong track record in place, we’re excited to continue partnering with brands who wish to deepen their connection with their consumer and bring meaning to the marketplace through big ideas.

By: Michael Kuremsky, Brand & Creative Director