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Consumer Insights vs. Consumer Intelligence: What's the Difference?

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The internet is swimming with data on your customers. Interestingly, much of it has been provided by those very same customers you’re trying to reach. Your mission: tap into this data to understand what your customers need and want, then deliver on their expectations. That’s the foundation of consumer insights and consumer intelligence. 

Despite digital technology connecting us all, customers are increasingly harder to reach. They’ve developed internal “ad blockers” that tune out most of the marketing messages they see each day. That’s why effective communication and marketing matter more than ever. When brands know more about their customers — what they want and need, why they feel a certain way, and the best way to reach them — brands can improve their connections and outcomes.

Consumer insights and consumer intelligence represent two sides of the same coin. They’re not quite the same, so let’s explore the nuances between consumer insights vs. consumer intelligence and the value they bring to your business.

What Is Consumer Intelligence?

Consumer intelligence is the process of gathering and analyzing information about customers and potential customers to better understand them. You gather consumer intelligence to build deeper and more effective customer relationships and make better informed decisions. 

Using consumer intelligence, you can eliminate assumptions and pre-conceived ideas about what you think customers think and feel. Consumer intelligence is the foundation upon which consumer insights are built.

AI technologies bring consumer intelligence into the digital era. Technology can collect and analyze billions of pieces of consumer data in real time to better understand your target customers.

What Are Consumer Insights?

We define consumer insights as the deep understanding of consumers that comes from gathering consumer intelligence and analyzing it carefully. The result is actionable  data your business uses that takes into account customer behaviors, feedback, and conversations and turns them into conclusions about your customers’ preferences.

To benefit from consumer insights, you need good data quality and reliable data sources, as well as a way to collect, organize, and translate the data. In other words, to gain real consumer insights, you need to first gather real consumer intelligence. 

Where Do Consumer Insights and Consumer Intelligence Overlap?

Consumer Insights in the buyer journey

Both consumer insights and intelligence play an important role in developing your products, services, and marketing strategy.

Consumer insights and intelligence can help you learn more about what makes your target audience tick. Insights are built by identifying trends in behaviors and actions throughout the customer journey that help you learn more about sentiments and the drivers behind customer decisions.

The results delivered by insights and intelligence differ from traditional market research in that you don’t know what you’re going to get. Instead of creating specific questions ahead of time, you receive answers to questions you may have never thought to ask. 

The data you receive from an insights and intelligence strategy can answer questions like:

  • How do customers view your brand?
  • How and where should you position your products or services so customers take notice?
  • How do customers feel about your competitors?
  • Is there a demand for your products or services, and how does demand change over time?
  • Are there opportunities to create new products or services?
  • What does your audience like, dislike, need, want, etc. and how can you connect with them wherever they are?


Both serve to help marketers solve the age-old dilemma of “You don’t know what you don’t know.” With intelligence and insights, brands no longer need to know all the questions to ask. They can simply use consumer intelligence to collect and analyze data, turn it into insights, and strengthen their customer connections.

How Are Consumer Insights and Consumer Intelligence Different?

Despite consumer insights and intelligence working together, the two terms are not synonymous. 

To summarize, consumer intelligence helps you learn the what, where, and how of consumer data. Consumer insights, on the other hand, help you learn the why. Or to put it another way, intelligence is the process and insights are the actionable results. 

The Role of Consumer Intelligence

Consumer intelligence creates consumer insights. It relies on technologies, such as Linkfluence’s AI-powered consumer intelligence, to collect data from a variety of sources. It looks for deeper connections between data that aren’t readily obvious on the surface. 

For example, traditional market research and audience segmentation rely heavily on generalizations about target audiences. Decades ago, companies marketed to consumers based on their age bracket, race, income levels, geographic location, and other demographics. 

However, human beings are much more complex than these broad categories imply. Customers that share one characteristic may have dozens of other nuances that demographics don’t take into account. Until companies can get to know customers on a more granular level, their marketing may only scratch the surface.

The buying journey has also become more intricate. Thanks to the widespread availability of information online, more consumers are discovering, researching, and purchasing products in more ways than ever. They’re reaching out to friends on social media, connecting directly with brands, posting in forums, reading reviews and blog articles, and watching videos as part of their decision-making process.

The buyer journey doesn’t always take a linear or funnel-like path anymore. Due to this shift, companies need a better way to meet customers wherever they are in their journey. This means understanding and anticipating their needs, identifying gaps or barriers to the next step, and personalizing the end-to-end experience.

Consumer intelligence fills this need by establishing a process to collect and analyze customer data. No longer dependent on demographic and surface-level data, consumer intelligence can dig deeper and find connections between data points. It’s systematized and repeatable, allowing brands to continue learning about their customers over time.

Following Up Intelligence with Insights

AI-powered intelligence tools like Linkfluence surface insights from the data they collect. These insights can come from a number of data sources, including but not limited to:

  • Product reviews
  • Social media posts
  • Surveys
  • Forums
  • News sources
  • Podcasts
  • Blog articles
  • Videos


Both solicited (such as branded surveys, polls, feedback, etc.) and unsolicited (such as social media comments, user generated content, etc.) data create a 360-degree view of your customers. 

Intelligence and insights set the stage for the next step — action. 

How to Use Consumer Intelligence and Insights

Finding consumer insights

Traditional market research has proven valuable in helping brands understand the past. Consumer intelligence and insights step in to help map out the future, faster. 

With a solid intelligence process in place, brands can put their insights to work in a number of ways.

Increase Customer Lifetime Value

First and foremost, consumer insights can optimize your total customer lifetime value. When you listen to your customers, you’ll know what they need and want from you (and what they’re not getting from your competitors). Demonstrating how you’re listening to them can foster loyalty, improve sentiments, and earn repeat business.

Personalize the Customer Experience

Consumer insights also enable you to create personalized experiences. Customers have come to expect personalized interactions with the brands they do business with. It ensures each interaction is relevant and engaging, and makes it more likely a customer will act.

Improve Trend Forecasting

Learning more about customer habits, trends, and shifts can help brands improve their forecasting. For humans, the only real constant is change. Learning more about consumer preferences in real time can help brands prepare for potential shifts in demand and allow them to continue serving their customers without interruption.

Optimize Your Pricing Strategy

Pricing can be a slippery slope. You want to make a profit on your product or services, but you also don’t want to price your products higher than what customers are willing to pay. Consumer insights can remove some of the guesswork from pricing by comparing your prices against your competitors.

Enter New Markets

Find new markets with consumer insights

Consumer insights can help you discover new corners of the market to explore. You might discover a cohort of individuals to appeal to where your brand is currently unknown, for example. Or, you might recognize that your ROI in one market is significantly higher compared to another, allowing you to go deeper into that market to produce more attractive returns.

Discover New Pain Points

You developed your products or services to solve some sort of problem or need. But those initial reasons might not be the only ones that appeal to your customers. Insights and intelligence can help you learn more about the issues customers face that you may be unaware of. Learn more about what makes your product or brand appealing to customers and why they choose you over a competitor. Then, use those pain points in your marketing to strengthen your messaging and appeal to more customers.

Getting Consumer Insights and Intelligence with Linkfluence

AI-driven solutions like Linkfluence connect intelligence and insights into a single platform. Our Consumer Insights platform collects market data in real time from millions of conversations across the web. We go beyond basic social listening to turn data into insights — and insights into action. 

Get a demo and see how Linkfluence AI consumer intelligence gives you everything you need to support your most important business and marketing decisions.


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