I’m convinced that advertising agencies and indeed marketers are struggling to make the distinction between an observation and an insight, particularly when it comes to the so-called ‘black market’.
An observation is simply taking note of what you see right in front of you, and this rarely requires an in-depth interrogation of what is being observed. An insight, on the other hand, is a deeper understanding of what is being observed or experienced, so you start to look beyond what your see. This was put more succinctly by a fellow strategic planner I have come to respect through conversations. She said: an insight is the ‘why’ to which you can no longer ask why.
With that said, an insight doesn’t only look deeper, but it also interrogates other perspectives, meaning that much better understanding can also be achieved by shifting focus towards other perspectives by looking at not only what is deeper, but also what lies on the periphery.