Before I stumbled into this job called strategy, I couldn't tell you what an insight was.
Still, an insight is tough to explain without a whizz bang example of a good insight versus a bad insight insight. Example: Theodore Levitt, one of Harvard Business Review's most prolific authors, once told his students,"People don't want quarter inch drills - they want quarter inch holes." Now that's an insight. Short, easy to understand, & impactful.
It helps me to think of an insight as uncovering something that the consumer wants before they even know it - because they often don't!
It's not something that's new - Henry Ford, inventor of the first automobile middle class America could buy, reportedly said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” But it's something that has stood the test of time. Steve Jobs said, "It is not the customer's job to know what they want." He's right - it's our job - as strategists, agencies, product developers (and the lines are becoming increasingly blurred here) - to predict what the customer wants - and create it.
The best thing I've ever read about how to identify an insight comes from Jeremy Bullmore, who wrote in the 2004 WPP Annual Report that an insight is "a new understanding, probably of human behaviour or attitude, as a result of which action may be taken and an enterprise more efficiently conducted." To put it this in practice he asks the question:
"Why is a good insight like a refrigerator? Because the moment you look into it, a light comes on."
That's all for now.