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Published July 14th 2017

Break Down Data Barriers: Dealing with the Insights Sharing Dilemma

Dinah Alobeid talks to Forrester Serving's Cinny Little and Brandwatch's Mike Brackpool on how to share important data insights with the C-Suite.

I want to share something. Because sharing is caring. But not everyone does it when it comes to consumer insights from social and other sources.

Sharing insights is a huge challenge for many professionals working in consumer insights teams.

Achieving company-wide cut-through to secure sponsorship and the attention of C-suite employees/executives/key stakeholders is paramount to a successful data-driven insights strategy.

In this second installment of our Insights Center of Excellence Q&A blog series (here’s the first), we’re addressing your questions from our recent webinar on this important topic.

Cinny Little, senior analyst serving Customer Insights Professionals at Forrester Serving is divulging everything we need to know about how to break free of the bad habit of hoarding insights.

Let’s get right to our second question.

Cinny, what are some ways to educate and convince the C-suite that an insights center of excellence is worth investing in?

First, know that achieving that cut-through is not an add-on to your role — it’s a key part of your role as a social and customer insights professional. Your work — your team’s work — must always incorporate activities that drive stakeholder engagement with the insights you deliver from social.

For example, this may require a change in the approach and processes you use now in deriving and delivering insights from social data.  

Today, many use a “project” process: stakeholders ask for insights about a specific topic, area, or campaign; you do the work and deliver insights back.

It’s common that a disconnect occurs: you and your team members may not know what action, if any, was taken on the insights, or what the stakeholders’ perception was of the value of the insights delivered. That disconnect leaves money on the table.

How can consumer insights professionals work better with their stakeholders to ensure a deeper level of transparency? Is there a way to guarantee there isn’t a disconnect?


What’s missing in the “project” approach is the business partnership you need with your stakeholders.

Always work up front with stakeholders to align on the measurement and insights that matter most to business outcomes, such as brand health and engagement metrics you use today.

To increase visibility and engagements in the insights, seek to deliver insights in a synchronous way: have a meeting or call with the stakeholder, as opposed to sending something via email or by posting a dashboard, for example.

You want the interaction and the real-time feedback to get ideas on how you can grow stakeholder engagement. Find and deliver ways to create visibility with stakeholders about the social interaction of your customers.

In the consumer insights world, many professionals are mired in an endless cycle of report delivery, drowning under a deluge of slides and grids.

It’s information overload to the umpteenth degree. Which is why so many poignant and useful insights are left buried in email inboxes or can be easily missed as a one-line hard-hitting piece of information in a 50-page document.

The need for storytelling comes into play here, because it’s a huge part of the insights sharing process.

It’s not enough to deliver the reports, with the helpful next steps so teams — whether they’re HR, marketing or product development — can put them into action.

Consumer insights professionals need to excavate the underlying truth, the important nuggets of insight from social and other datasets, and speak to them in an understandable and compelling way.

It’s all about the story.

Especially for the C-suite. Your top executive stakeholders don’t have endless downtime to read through emails and take a deep dive into a report on last quarter’s sales results juxtaposed with social consumer insights.

They need the top line, three bullets, give me the “fast and dirty rundown” of what’s going on in the world of your brand and industry.

In the quest for real-world examples of how smart brands secure C-suite stakeholders are invested and excited by an insights center of excellence, I asked our very own Michael Brackpool to help shed some light.

What are some ways to educate and convince the C-suite that an insights center of excellence is worth investing in?

The best method of education is proof. People believe what they can see.

Equip your team with a concrete example that speaks to the business value of insights sharing and a center of excellence.

Getting executive buy-in starts from that concept of being able to identify and then turnaround a missed opportunity. Let’s discuss how exactly to go about doing that.

The best real-world example I’ve seen of this comes from a globally renowned CPG brand we work with. Their insights team conducted an analysis report on a missed opportunity regarding a new product category gaining a lot of popularity in the industry.

They’d been seeing increased conversation about a beverage flavor that they didn’t stock but that their competitors were clearly leveraging to the benefit of their brand and sales.

The social analysis and subsequent research report showed the brand it had missed out on a $50 million dollar opportunity.

Had they moved more quickly to create a product with this new flavor, and fulfill this consumer need they could’ve achieved quite a big bump in sales.

While specific segments within the organization were discussing the potential opportunity and keen to leverage the opportunity, senior management at the time were not interested. To put it into perspective, that sum of potential sales isn’t a major “make or break it” deal for a billion dollar global conglomerate.

But if you’re talking about transforming your business to be data-driven and customer-centric, then that opportunity is showing you exactly what you need to do to make your customers happy and be this type of aspirational brand.

The research highlighted the exact type of product they could manufacture to respond to a consumer demand in the industry. It’s not necessarily about the money which is significant, of course, but about losing your customer segment to a different product from a competing brand.

Does the money even matter if you’re trying to deliver value to customers?

The question for brands in this position is how do you tap into the consumer pulse of actually knowing what’s meaningful? And how do you shortcut those big processes of consumer in-depth research and market analysis?

I know you all want specific details, so Mike has some step by step recommendations that can work for you when surfacing helpful business insights from social and other data sets and presenting them to C-suiters.

Step 1: Primarily, you need to do execute an interesting analysis project to discover the opportunities out there for your brand’s taking.

Deep social analysis paired with other important consumer data sets (from web traffic, to sales, to traditional research surveys) is the surefire way to get this activity underway to garner fruitful and informative results that can lead to direct business action for your team to recommend.

Step 2: The next step is gaining visibility and showing the powers that be (your C-suite or other executive stakeholders) that this isn’t necessarily a “pie in the sky” idea, but presenting them with actual information of a specific occurrence where the company could’ve done better.

Even if you don’t have a physical center of excellence, bring those decision makers into the consumer insights departments or a conference room with the analysts and researchers that have executed the analysis and have written up the recommended next business actions.

Step 3: Our inboxes are ridiculously full. Our minds are dominated by conflicting floods of information from every device and interaction in daily life.

Consider the inbox of a CEO or CMO, and how inundated they must be with incessant reports and PDFs in their inboxes.

The context of this important business personas is that they’ve got limited time and mental capacity for new information, even less so than the specialized professionals in insights teams.

Take these executives out of that context of info overload. Use the power of cinematic visuals to share data and high-level insights in a new and highly engaging way. Take them into a physical space that tells a story, not throws numbers at them without any overarching “So what does this mean?”

Case study: Bimbo

For a look into how an insights center of excellence can inform business decisions in a big way, let’s delve into this case study from bakery brand Bimbo.

Bimbo is one of the most well-known bakery companies in the world and parent company to brands such as Sara Lee.

They used their insights center of excellence powered by Brandwatch Vizia to detect negative brand sentiment and social outrage online — and then turn it into a sweet and swift sales influx of over half a million dollars.

A limited edition Gansito brand snack cake was made available only in the U.S., and social media revealed that the Mexican market was hungry for this treat, despite historically only having one flavor and being a generally traditional retail market.

By detecting complaints and outrage on social, Bimbo turned their negative sentiment into a business opportunity.

They made the agile decision to sell these coveted red velvet cakes in Mexico. With just two locations selling the product (Mexico City and Guadalajara), and limited investment in comms, Bimbo was able to realize the following:

  • 7% increase in sales
  • 12% increase in incremental volume online, and reversed negative brand attention
  • Achieved total sales of more than $580,000

Because of the company’s deep social intelligence strategy within their organization, they turned a potential brand hit into actual sales.

That’s literally money in the bank for this brand. All thanks to the detection and escalation of insights from social data.

I want to just leave you all with a few all-important thoughts.

  • Without the ability to move quickly, you can miss out on sales.
  • Automated alerting systems (such as Signals) can surface important issues including “how do we get into this lucrative potential segment,” “how do we answer this request from our customers,” or “should we invest in this type of technology to serve customers better.”
  • The best way to educate C-suite execs with insights is to take them out of their normal context and show the impact to becoming customer-centric and data-driven.

Look out for the third blog in this series, coming soon. We’ll be shedding light on internal marketing tactics for your insights center of excellence with Cinny and Mike.

Don’t worry if you want more information on all things related to insights centers of excellence, the complete Q&A is available to read now.


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