The Insight250 spotlights and celebrates 250 of the world’s premier leaders and innovators in market research, consumer insights, and data-driven marketing. The inaugural list was revealed in April 2021, and the 2022 winners were announced in Toronto last September at ESOMAR’s Annual Congress. The awards have created renewed excitement across the industry whilst strengthening the connectivity of the market research community. The 2023 Winners were announced this past July and can be seen at Insight250.com.
With so many exceptional professionals named to the Insight250, it seems fitting to tap into their expertise and unique perspectives across various topics. This weekly series does just that: inquiring about the expert perspectives of many of these individuals in a series of short topical features.
This edition features Winnie Yeung, Head of Customer Insights & Research at Hang Seng Bank. Winnie provides an exceptional perspective on how insights are impacting the financial services industry and beyond through her experience on both the banking and agency sides of business.
Crispin: You’ve just moved to Hang Seng Bank from Cimigo - is the role of insights very different in both organisations?
The difference is mainly the relative emphasis on breadth vs. depth. At the agency, I enjoyed exposure to a wide spectrum of clients and markets at different stages of development, facing different business issues. On the client side, it is more about depth, from corporate statement brand values to product development, marketing communications, and customer experience. In either case, my mission is to ensure that my stakeholders, be they external clients or internal users, CEO, or font-line workers, live and breathe the customers.”
Crispin: Where do your greatest insights come from?
I draw my greater insights from my teenage daughters! Essentially, they represent the young consumers who grow up in a digital world where everything is mobile-first. They get information and knowledge on the Internet and social media discerningly. They think globally, dream big, and aim high. They always inspire me to think about how a brand like Hang Seng Bank, having 90 years of history in Hong Kong, can stay connected and remain engaged with young consumers.
“We get great insights from experts and leaders, but I believe that the greatest insights often come from a “layman consumer,” whose needs and wants are our true inspirations. At Hang Seng Bank, we have an online community, ConceptLab, where we engage and co-create with a group of young consumers. Their ideas are truly insightful. Only by ensuring that Hang Seng remains relevant to the new generations can we ensure our brand is future-proof.”
Crispin: Are different sources used for benchmarking, innovation, and strategy? Which sources do you find most useful?
Benchmarking, innovation, and strategy rely on a variety of sources. No one single source is superior to the others. It is like leading an orchestra—all data and insights synchronised in harmony according to different business needs.”
Crispin: Do you feel it is more important to fully understand consumers or competitors? Why?
While understanding both is crucial, I believe that only by putting consumers as the nucleus of business decisions can we deliver value and make our brand stand out from our competitors. You will always be a follower if you watch the competitors.”
“Hang Seng Bank has recently upgraded one of the Prestige banking branches to Hong Kong’s first pet-friendly branch. This first-in-market innovation is led by research insights. It serves as a pilot and as part of our ongoing focus on offering “lifestyle banking” services that elevate our customer experience.”
Crispin: Given the evolving sophistication of consumers, what is the biggest challenge in understanding their attitudes and actions?
The biggest challenge is keeping pace with the rate of change. Consumers are more informed and empowered than ever, and their expectations always evolve. This makes it crucial to have real-time and actionable insights. Hang Seng Bank’s first-in-HK mobile cheque deposit service is a very good example of how we understand and respond swiftly to customers’ pain points and needs for greater convenience and efficiency.”
Crispin: Given the growing complexity of competitors, what is the biggest challenge in understanding their strategies and decisions?
The biggest challenge is predicting their next moves in a highly dynamic environment, with new products and services constantly emerging. Therefore, staying ahead requires not only understanding competitors’ current strategies but also being able to anticipate future trends and directions. It is crucial to employ a combination of approaches, including thorough market research, competitor analysis, data analytics, and monitoring industry and consumer trends.”
Hot topic: Getting heard in the boardroom
Crispin: Is it getting easier or harder to get the voice of insights heard in the Boardroom? What would your advice be to get this done effectively?
It is easier as organisations now all embrace data-driven culture. What truly matters, though, is how to present insights in a way that matters to your boss in the boardroom. Distill complex data and insights into clear, concise, and actionable messages. Link insights with corporate values and business outcomes. Put yourself into the shoes of different stakeholders. Present insights in a way that resonates with the board’s priorities. Demonstrating a track record of value generated from previous insights-driven initiatives can help you establish credibility and gain influence in the boardroom.
I’d be very happy for a nice shot on a golf course, but I’d learn a lot more when I make bogeys. Reflect on failures and mistakes with lateral thinking.”
Crispin: Thanks, Winnie. What a great perspective on the impact and evolution of insights and how it is impacting financial services and really almost all industries around the world. Thank you for your time and expertise.