― Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
Great insights can seem obvious to us when we hear them or discover them, but were often so hard to spot before we saw them. On a number of occasions we have revealed to our clients the most important thing that customers want from their products. This has been the result of substantial consumer research and management workshop activity and data analysis. When we explain the conclusions, the effort and expense in coming up with the finding can seem strange. the insight just makes perfect sense to everyone, especially with the wisdom of hindsight.
I once received this remark when making the statement that the most important thing about weed killers is that they kill the weeds.
“How much did we pay you to come up with that Chris!”
N.B. There was more to this insight, and this was not the differentiator, but that was really proprietary to the client, so not for sharing in a blog post. However the differentiators were similarly simple and obvious with hindsight.
Another example is something that we discovered about estate agents. It is easy to think that since the estate agent is paid a % of the house sale as commission, they are motivated to get the best price for their clients to maximise their income. Seems obvious and true, but do the analysis, look at the real motivations and talk to estate agents and you discover this is not true. In reality they are most concerned that the sale goes through so that they get some commission. The bigger risk for them is the sale falling through and the longer it takes to complete the transaction the more likely the sale will fall through. So actually they are focused on the speed of the transaction. What this means if you have a service to help estate agents, then supporting transaction speed is critical. We found this out in a client study. Freakonomics also reported on how this works for estate agent clients and used an empirical approach to get it right. They explain in this video. or you can read in this post
Many insights about what drives purchasing have an element of the blindingly obvious about them. The best insights are easy to understand. However they are often not so easy to spot if your vision is clouded by some existing conventional wisdom or common sense about the market. In fact it often takes uncommon sense to discover them.
Once we have simple clear insights, we can use these to develop products that will work and the whole business will understand that they will work. As we all know, insights and ideas seem hard to come by. But discovering these insights is still easy compared to engaging the business to implement the resulting plan.
Simplicity and clarity are valuable tools to engage the business.