April, 2016
Trend or insight? What’s the difference?

By Winnifred Knight – Business Director: Direct/CRM at Mortimer Harvey

Friday, 1 April 2016

As marketers, we’re all addicted to trends, but let’s be honest, most us get a little confused about what a trend or an insight really is.

Trends and insights tell you where your market is currently at, and consequently where your brand needs to be. They can be employed to guide your decision-making and strategy development, allowing you to connect the dots until a picture forms. Trends and insights inform your strategy and enable you to create your own playing field –competing within someone else’s game is a reactionary strategy.

So, what is a trend?

A trend is the general direction in which something, such as consumer buying behaviour, is developing or changing. It has no beginning or end and can be interpreted in numerous ways, potentially providing indicators for the development of your brand. However, most importantly, it’s based on statistically verified data.

And an insight?

An insight is the accurate and intuitive understanding of a person or thing, for example, what motivates a particular buying behaviour. It’s the ‘why’ and ‘what if’ not the ‘what’, and it incorporates creative thinking and data analysis. Applied correctly it can lead to tangible, marketable, meaningful and impactful opportunities and solutions. It’s not simply a passive observation. It’s actionable. Insights are also often obtained through identification of trends.

There are a lot of trends. How do we know what to follow?

You want to identify the trends that have staying power and that have the ability to become profitable, common-sense business practices. You need to be able to adapt your business strategy in accordance with emerging trend data, so as to match your customer’s needs, wants and desires.

Trends don’t happen on their own

Trends are not necessarily incremental – they often explode to a new level and gain momentum and mature. And in some cases – disappear. Trends don’t occur in isolation – they arise due to various social and environmental factors, and affect various industries, people, companies, environments, products and services. This is where your data is so important. Use it to identify who needs your brand, why they need it and how they need to communicate with it.

The complexities of implementing trends and insights

The mix within a company should be equal parts innovation and steady management. Companies need to be nimble, agile and flexible in their business plans, marketing strategies, brand development and organisational structures in order to accommodate changes in their operational environment.

Trend experts agree that we need to change with the times and get rid of outdated company practices, policies and procedures and silos to remain competitive in a constantly shifting milieu.

Create an energetic and dynamic company – with flexible infrastructure and systems and people with innovative minds – that puts your customers’ needs first.

Assemble and develop a multigenerational and multicultural workforce that prioritises output and accountability, rather than merely procedure.

I agree with what Prof. Theodore Levitt (Marketing Myopia, 1969) taught, “You are in business to serve and satisfy your customers and profit is the measure of your success, and it is better to make a customer than to make a sale!”

He ends saying that, “you should not define yourself as sellers of products or services, but redefine yourself as buyers and keepers of customers.”

Return on investment and attention is gained from knowing what’s coming… and what, of what’s coming, is here to stay.


For further information, please contact:

Jacques Verster at Mortimer Harvey

Tel: +27 (0)11 996 2833

Cell: +27 (0)83 276 9009

Email: [email protected]

About Winnifred Knight

Winnifred Knight is Business Director: Direct/CRM at Mortimer Harvey, an independent, OmniChannel, results-driven consulting, marketing and integrated communications agency based in Johannesburg and Cairo.