An insight is something very difficult to define or to explain, it is usually described as the ‘AHA’ moment, or when the light bulb turns up.

The other day I stumbled into a blog from Adam Richardson that describes three key attributes:

Core insights have three key attributes:
1. Logical, yet unexpected. A core insight is the quintessential “Aha!” — a realization about how your customers think or where a business opening lies that emerges out of connecting the dots between various other findings (customer research, technology trends, demographics, economics, brand, etc.) in a new way. Toyota’s counterintuitive realization about what would motivate buyers came from understanding cultural, behavioral, economic, and technologic trends, and this insight drove development choices as well as marketing.

2. Forward-looking. A core insight provides forward-looking understanding of customer needs, behaviors, and market trends. Core insights should address the current state of the world and also point to how the world will be in the future. In recognizing the phenomenon of eco-friendly products becoming status symbols, Toyota was picking up on a pioneering mind-set with emerging eco-conscious buyers that seemed likely to expand into the mainstream. The fact that they are now turning Prius into a brand and product line is testament to the durable nature of their insight.

3. Hard to follow. The core insights you’ve discovered should be hard for competitors to perceive based on the offerings you put into the market. “Make it faster” or “add another blade to the razor” are obvious; reliance on such easily deduced “insights” makes you predictable and easy to compete against. The real trick is that even if competitors can eventually understand your core insight, their ability to respond is often constrained by their own competencies, customers, and business model.

By Adam Richardson