Human Insights vs Consumer Insights


Marketers have long understood that the best way to sell products and services is to connect with consumers. Developing an emotional connection with consumers has proven to increase brand loyalty and drive sales. When brands operate from a place of understanding consumer behavior, their customers feel seen, heard, and valued. And how do brands go about understanding their consumers so deeply? By using a consumer insight approach to learning about their wants and needs, right?

While it may seem like a nominal semantic difference, consumer insights and human insights are entirely different approaches to understanding a target audience. To help you better understand the difference between consumer insights and human insights, (human)x has created this guided summary detailing their benefits and how each type might work to achieve the marketing goals of your brand.

What Are Consumer Insights?

Consumer insights are the analysis of consumer behavior to determine what consumers need, want, like and dislike. These insights include consumers’ experiences with a company’s products and expectations of product performance. Consumer insights are data-driven, with the intention of gathering information about a specific ecommerce purchase or brick-and-mortar visit and then selling more products. This data is collected via extensive surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, AI and chatbot support or social media engagement. Common questions asked to generate consumer insight include, “What products do my consumers buy?” or “What price point moves these items most efficiently?”

A well-established and data-driven marketing tool, consumer insights help marketers understand how a target audience thinks and feels about the products they are using and the transaction process surrounding them. They provide knowledge and statistics to help brands personalize marketing, grow, or improve product lines, attract, and retain customers, and increase sales. The focus here is on data that reveals how consumers are engaging with a brand, and the benefits are many—with one downside. Consumer insights do a fantastic job of revealing what consumers need and want, but disregards the fact that consumers are whole people with lives, demands, concerns and challenges that have factored into their buying decisions. It does not tell us why they do what they do or how they are feeling.

What Are Human Insights?

Human insights answer the question of why consumers behave in certain ways. It employs empathy, rather than data, as a vehicle to sell experiences to a target audience. Human insights help us understand consumers through listening and observing and then connecting those observations to create a narrative of the whole person. Approaching marketing with human insights can help brands recognize consumers outside of their purchasing behavior, better understand how their life experiences shape their shopping decisions, and then create compelling customer experiences that draw consumers in on a deeper level.

To develop this holistic picture of consumers, marketers need to ask more exploratory questions: “How does this product fit into the consumer’s identity, including who they are and who they want to become?” or “What does this brand represent to the consumer within the context of their life?” Marketers can also gather human insight data by developing listening skills. Without realizing it, many brands communicate with consumers in self-serving ways that are more focused on highlighting their own products and services rather than noticing the real people who are just attempting to live their lives in the best way possible. While the human insight perspective does not collect quantitative data in the same sense as consumer insight, it is a vital way of constructing a narrative that considers a consumer’s aspirations, personality, and life experiences, as well as how those components affect their connection to brands.

Which Type of Insight Works Best for My Brand?

Up until recently, data-backed consumer insights formed the backbone of marketing campaigns and product development. In fact, as data-driven marketing experts, the (human)x team always recommends that brands base their marketing decisions on high-quality market research. And even as we stand by our recommendation, today’s consumers need more than brands that offer products they want to buy—today’s consumers are also looking for brands that listen to how and why they need these products, which means that today’s marketers need to evolve alongside them. So how can your marketing team decide between consumer or human insights?

The consumer insights versus human insights debate has brands examining their marketing strategies and market researchers reevaluating the way they gather data. It has even infiltrated job titles on popular job search sites like Indeed and Glassdoor. But the experts at (human)x believe that an integrated approach is best: combining the data and analysis of consumer insight with the empathy and narrative of human insight so that your brand can best serve the needs of its very real, very human customers.

Many market researchers are using this combined consumer-human insight lens to better understand consumer needs and better inform marketing campaigns, and this integrated approach may very well be the key to success for your brand as well. Begin the process by collecting high-quality data, extensive marketing research, well-developed consumer personas, and efficient analytics. If you are still unsure how to apply these insights to grow your brand and connect with consumers, reach out to (human)x today to learn more. Our research methodologies reveal consumer motivation, predict consumer behavior, and illuminate the competitive landscape and digital environment. Our approach is not to measure for measurements sake, but to focus on the key data that will provide the most meaningful insights for your brand.