What’s the Difference Between an Insight and a Finding?

The term ‘insight’ is thrown around pretty loosely in the research world. To us, an insight is more than just a fact or a finding. Southpaw VP/Chief of Staff Martha Gordon explains:

At its most basic, a finding tells you ‘what’, while an insight tells you ‘why’.  An insight is a deeper, intuitive understanding that explains the motivations behind a behavior. It exposes a consumer truth or need based on deeply held beliefs — and the best insights are a new angle on that truth. It might sound obvious when you hear it. A great insight is often the combination of ‘aha’ and ‘duh.’ A test of whether you have a true insight is whether it engages both the heart and the brain.

Let’s look at an example. One of my favorite insights is found in how the Method brand came about. The founders of Method recognized that people felt there was an inherent trade-off between efficacy and sustainability in cleaning products. The finding might have been “80% of consumers believe that to be effective, a cleaning product must have chemicals.” But the insight dug deeper and revealed how consumers feel about this. It might have read something like this: “I want to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but when it comes to cleaning my home, I have to use what works.” And, “Part of the drudgery of cleaning is all the toxic fumes.”

These insights identify a tension, reveal a belief, and expose an unmet need. There’s a practical side and emotional side to them. They sound obvious, but expose an opportunity.

We help our clients dig beyond the facts and findings to uncover the insights – that’s where the real inspiration and opportunities lie! Discover more here.

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