Apple, Tesla and Nespresso are examples of brands that have been built around eye-opening human insights. Each of these brands is guided by a clear idea of what makes their customers “tick”. We call this the core target insight. This is what makes Apple, Tesla and Nespresso more than just stylish computers, zero-emission cars or good instant coffee. It is what makes people go beyond buying the brand to buying into the brand.
Another example of a brand built around a core target insight is Starbucks. They have realized that the company is more than a barista coffee house. It is a lifestyle statement many people aspire to. Starbucks has taken the Italian coffee experience and created a soulful coffee lounge suitable to the US market. Part of the company’s success is understanding how people experience their ideal “coffee moment”.
What makes a good core target insight
There is much to learn from brands like Apple, Tesla, Nespresso and Starbucks. How to work with eye-opening, core target insights is one example. We have summarized our thoughts on this below.
Know the people you serve
The idea of the brand has been shaped around a clear idea of the people it serves. Apple, Tesla, Nespresso and Starbucks have built aspirational worlds in which their ‘Creatives’, ‘Entrepreneurs’, ‘Gentlemen’ and ‘Citizens’ can thrive.
Envision a sub-category based on white spaces in the market
Each of the above brands has identified white spaces in their respective categories. Based on these, the brands have envisioned their own sub-categories. The white spaces often exist in the gap between the target group’s aspirations and reality. Starbucks’s Italian-style coffee house experience tweaked to suit busy American urbanites is one example of this.
Realize that customer experience is everything
Apple, Tesla, Nespresso and Starbucks have all invested a lot in customer experience. It is what sets them apart from other brands and clarifies their role in the market. Apple’s genius bars and Tesla’s straight-to-consumer sales model are examples of this, as are Nespresso’s high-quality coffee dispensers and Starbucks’s personal paper mugs with names written on them. The brands are built up with these and many more small actions.
Challenge category conventions
There are few opportunistic promotions from these brands. They also tend to be less affected by trends than many other companies. This has allowed them to build strong sub brands that people can relate to. For example, Apple’s iPhone and Starbucks’s Pumpkin spice latte are powerful symbols for the brands.
Core target insights make brands matter
Great brands are built around eye-opening insights about the people they serve. These core target insights are often summed up in surprisingly simple terms. For Starbucks it could be: “Fast food coffee takes away the magic and romance of a great coffee house”. This insight is the difference between a venti dulce de leche latte at Starbucks and a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. It connects the richer lifestyle the target group aspires to with Starbucks. It tells the brand to offer a bit of magic and romance to separate it from competitors that focus on convenience. It also guides what Starbucks should and should not do to stay relevant to people.
We believe that the core target insight is the basis for a brand’s success. By guiding the brand in accordance with the needs of those who matter most, it helps the brand matter to many.