Exploring the Wider World of Consumer Insights


Consumer and shopper insights have benefited food manufacturers and retailers, and here’s a way to possibly get even more results.

Taking a look at how insights enhance sectors outside of the food industry could provide new appreciation for these tools and new ideas on how to use them. 

So with this in mind, here are two examples from other sectors, based on two recent articles in the New York Times:

  • Automobile Industry: General Motors, concerned that Millennial consumers aren’t seeing cars as cool anymore, has embarked on a strategy to “infuse General Motors with the same insights that made MTV reality shows like ‘Jersey Shore’ and ‘Teen Mom’ breakout hits,” an article said. GM has been working to accomplish this with consultants from MTV’s parent company Viacom, who have a successful track record in research and insights.

    GM also hired John McFarland, 31, a marketing executive formerly with Procter & Gamble, to oversee this outreach to younger consumers.

    One result is the emergence of new Chevrolet colors, like “techno pink,” “lemonade” and “denim,” all geared to “a 23-year-old who shops at H&M and Target,” said a designer at the automobile brand.

  • Political Arena: The Obama campaign has an “analytics department” that tracks voting trends and a “chief scientist” whose specialty is consumer behavior, according to another NYT article. That person is Rayid Ghani, who a year ago worked at Accenture Technology Labs in Chicago, where he co-authored a paper on data mining that explored how to create personalized interactions with customers based on insights about consumer behavior patterns.

The use of analytics and customized messages isn’t new for politics, but this campaign appears to be doing it on a larger scale than ever before to energize possible supporters and voters, the article pointed out. Here’s the point of these two examples: Consumer insights are highly valued across the business and political worlds. An increased knowledge of the big picture of insights — how other sectors are embracing them — will only energize the food industry’s efforts. This could lead to more sharing of best practices, and maybe practitioners, across traditional boundaries.

So keep abreast of this wider world if you want to maximize the potential. Now there’s an insight worth having.

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Liz Webber

Liz Webber is Engagement Director / Fresh Market Editor at Supermarket News. She covers fresh foods for the magazine and creates multimedia, blog posts and other content for the website. She joined...

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach has been with Supermarket News for more than 45 years — a span difficult for him to comprehend, having once been the youngest reporter on the staff. During that time he has...
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