Insights are typically focused on the here and now looking for opportunities to take advantage of or activities where course corrections are needed that impact the current planning cycle.
In the case of foresight we try to imagine a new future that might affect long term planning. Since there are things we simply don’t know the thinking and analysis style is quite different. Two questions that help frame the future:
What macro events or trends create step changes in consumer needs that we’re attempting to satisfy?For instance the Great Recession fundamentally shook our confidence, which in turn reversed the trends in savings rate and disposable income. This translated into a need to be frugal which in turn led to ‘deal chic’ where promotions are a badge of honor. Who would have thought that sub-prime mortgages would give rise to Groupon?
What needs and solutions could emerge that alter the fundamental positioning of our brand in consumers’ minds?For instance, disruptive innovation or blue oceans completely clearly reset the landscape, resulting in new winners and losers. Given that the mind is the most difficult thing to change there is a tendency to be blindsided. The idea of taking an unimportant feature and making a market out of that is the basis of being blindsided. Who would want a small drive that is slower, holds less, and costs more per unit stored? The folks that wanted to make computing distributed rather than efficient; they created totally new markets.
Insights: how do we improve the existing marketing plan?
Foresights: what marketing plan should we have?
Note: this idea came from discussion on "Growth and Foresight Analytics" on LinkedIn.