OK, that's definitly a big one.
When talking with clients we use the term "insight" all the time. Every brief does have this paragraph. Even the client's brief does have it in place. The one that's written in captions and starts with the word "I", thus imitating a consumer speaking.
When did you have your last insight that lead to an idea and then to a campaign? When did it start with the word "I" the last time?
I haven't had a big one since months and even before it never started with "I , the consumer...".
Let's forget what an insight is used for or why it is important to have one, let's think about what exactly it IS and how to get one.
What an insight is:
An insight is a psychic event in your mind. It is not something in the consumer's mind. You even get paid for having an insight. It happens within you!
And yes, an insight is an event, not a statement. It is the event of seeing and becoming able to express something you have not been able to see/express before.
Exactly like Buddha. He gained insight into Human Nature and the Nature of the Universe! Not too bad, is it. And his budget for market research was quite scarce at that time, too. Just like mine always is. No envy here, but he just had more time than we normally have for this Universe thingy. Especially given his personal concept of "time".
This is all banal? Yes. And not at all! Most people I know assume an insight is "information about the consumer and his motivation". My point is: it is NOT that! An insight is about the limitations of your acknowledgment being dissolved for a moment. Whatever the limitations are - insights are all about those limitations, not about consumers. Side note: That's the nice thing about Disruption (TBWA) - the change of perspective is considered to be more powerful than information about the consumer.
So if you need some kind of standardised beginning for an insight statement try this one: "We first thought that ..., but then we realised that ...". But better don't use any form at all.
Still don't know where to start? Me neither. Espceically the starting point is the one with the most panic involved. It's comforting to know that e.g. in the Hermeneutic Circle we are instructed to start "somewhere" to gain insight. In other words: just start. In my case: I just start talking. In your case it might be googling, or sth else.
What sometimes helps me with insight is a bunch of obscure techniques I have developed over time. Here are two of those contemplation techniques.
The first notion is called "Distinctions". No, not differentiation. Distinctions in a wider sense. It's all about drawing distinctions and comparisons between concepts, things, points in time, etc. Start thinking by finding the most promising distinctions & comparisons. Why were sales higher at point in time Y then now? How is Whisky different from Vodka? And is Whisky different from Whiskey? You get the point.
It's a very simple and broad notion but it can be powerful. So don't ask just "why do people buy X" but try "What is the difference between times when people buy X and those when they don't?". Even in consumer research: help respondents by letting them compare two or three things. You know this cat food insight: "Cats are loved because of their disobedient character"? That could have come from a comparison of cats to dogs.
The second one is the opposite of Unique Selling Points. It's about The Generic & Obvious. What is NOT the hidden but the most obvious, essential thing in the category? As you know in cosmetics it's - .... Yes, exactly, so if you start from "Beauty" you can arrive at "Real Beauty". In Vodka it's ... no, not clarity, more obvious ... getting drunk, maybe. Probe from there. Is getting drunk a no-go theme? Interesting!
There are several other approaches, of course. Maybe You'd like to share those You like best with us? Then write a comment below, please.