Consumer insight 'now at the heart of publishing'

Consumer insight 'now at the heart of publishing'

Consumer insight is not just a buzzword but has become an integral part of modern publishing, speakers at a FutureBook panel on the topic said today.

Sara Lloyd, digital and communications director at Pan Macmillan, said consumer insight has an impact across the whole business. ”It is basically data transformed into something actionable. It’s human, not machine, it’s qualitative and quantitative and it’s taken from multiple sources.”

Lloyd uses consumer insight to inform a number of commercial activities, including brand awareness and acquisitions. The company has developed a new concept, “backquisition”, using consumer insights to develop the initial story idea from which a novel is formed. The first book produced based on this insight will be published next year.

Hannah Telfer (pictured), group director of consumer and digital development at Penguin Random House, said consumer research has only developed as an industry in the digital age.

Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google bring publishers closer to their readers than ever before, she said, but she stressed the importance of combining the new data sources with the old. “Less than a quarter of UK population are on Twitter. It’s really about being curious and asking not only what people are doing but why they are doing it. Why do people respond to diff types of content? Why do certain books get them talking?”

Telfer said 2014 is the year that publishing has woken up to vlogging, for example, so is engaging tens of thousands of readers who were previously thought to be lost to reading.

David Boyle, v.p. of Insight at BBC Worldwide, said that consumer insight can help when partnering with the rights brands and expanding globally.

Using an example from the music industry, he described how DJ David Guetta regularly partnered with musicians from different genres. “He went from being relatively obscure outside France to being a major artist in most countries in the world. At the start he had 32 million Facebook fans, but the people he partnered with had more than 280 million likes between them.”