Data vs. Intuition in brand decisions: a symbiotic relationship

Exploring the interplay between data-driven insights and intuition in making effective brand decisions.

Data plays a crucial role in business and brand decisions today, often making us question relying solely on intuition for important decisions. However, intuition remains essential even in data-driven processes. While data helps us understand the world as it factually is, but also validates and guides creative and intuitive actions, intuition is crucial to help us come up with novel ideas, on a creative level of course, but also on a strategic level. Intuition can indeed help us set directions for data collection and help generate hypotheses to be tested. Furthermore, experience-based data is a key component of what we consider pure intuition. These were some of the discussion points raised during the breakfast session “Data vs intuition: What drives successful brand decisions, organized by Seventy Agency this June.

Before data became integral to decision-making, marketing was a labyrinth brand owners delved into without clear outcomes. As Harry Elonen, Senior Brand Manager at Minecraft humorously noted during Seventy Agency's latest breakfast session, "Marketing was like a rabbit hole [brand owners] went into and never came out of." Harry Elonen emphasized that data insights combined with communication volume are vital for successful brand decisions. Essential data insights emerge from continuous category analysis, revealing what people buy, what drives a category, and offering insights on brand awareness. "What you often overlook is the importance of brand awareness," Harry noted, highlighting the significance of salience—being top-of-mind in purchase decisions. Additionally, data on share of voice should inform communication strategies.

But what if data insights point one way and gut feeling suggests another?

Caroline Forsshell, Chief Marketing Officer, Kronans Apotek, suggests considering two aspects. First, data insights reflect current market conditions, which might not forecast future developments. "Maybe the data shows how customers act today, but [today] may not be what I need for my decisions," she explained. On the other hand, experience-based insights remain valuable. Caroline Forsshell tries to rely on her intuition but also ensures data collection is targeted. "I gather data knowing beforehand what I want from it," she says. This raises a critical question: If intuition is based on experience or client interactions, isn't it data-driven to some extent? Also, when collecting data for insights, it is important to consider whether the aim is to uncover new insights or validate existing decisions. The line between data-driven insights and intuition-based hunches is not always clear-cut.

"Think about 'Mad Men'—brand decisions were all intuition and force-fed ideas. Modern marketing is not the Don Draper way. We have overestimated intuition and image power. But intuition still matters in data analysis," Harry Elonen pointed out.

"You can get an intuition from looking at data," Caroline Forshell agreed, suggesting that data often points the way.

Eight key insights: Data vs. Intuition in brand decisions

  1. Market reflection: Does today’s data reflect what you need for tomorrow’s decisions?
  2. Category insights: Different insights are needed for category leaders versus challengers.
  3. Timeline Importance: Are your brand decisions aimed at short-term or long-term results?
  4. Right data collection: Collect data with a clear purpose to create actionable insights. Base collection on accurate assumptions.
  5. Intuition in questioning: Use intuition to frame the right questions.
  6. Bias awareness: Data quality depends on the questions asked. Biased data collection can confirm pre-existing biases.
  7. Insight generation: Data insights might be the final goal but can also spur new intuition-based insights.
  8. Cross-Industry learning: Data needed for one industry’s brand decisions might come from another industry.


If intuition is shaped by experiences and client interactions, it can be seen as data-driven, albeit less rigorously. Can we derive the best insights from data without intuition guiding the questions, data gathering, and transformation into insights? The balance between data and intuition in brand decisions is crucial.


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