Rather than presenting clients -- like DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group -- with statistic-filled spreadsheets and flip charts, Organic physically immerses them within physical spaces that it designs to closely mirror target consumers and their lifestyles. The spaces, according to a recent Forrester Research report, "serve as meeting places that surround stakeholders with a shared vision to plan strategy and tactics for wooing real customers that the personas represent."
Encompassing a wider world
But, because consumers don't exist inside of isolated environments, Organic is expanding its persona program to encompass the wider world and the platforms people use to stay connected to their digital lives.
"We looked out at the rapidly changing media landscape and figured it was important that we be in a position to advise our clients on how media consumption is changing, and how customers are using devices, platforms and media differently," explained Organic CEO Mark Kingdon.
Chad Stoller has been brought in to lead the new "Experience Lab" effort as executive director of emerging platforms. "Beyond learning who a consumer is, we need to know how he or she is interacting with people and media over the course of the day, whether it's through gaming, social networks or mobile devices," Mr. Stoller said. "The goal of the Experience Lab is to showcase how all these new products and platforms integrate into a person's life."
At marginal costs, Mr. Stoller will be leading clients into the field to investigate how people are living and consuming media on a daily basis. "It's not out of the question that we'll go out drinking with the consumers a client is trying to reach," Mr. Stoller said. "We'll go to ballgames; we'll go to the movies; we'll hang out with people at a party and observe how they're interacting with each other."
Enhancement, not just presence
Having represented top-tier brands such as Banana Republic and McDonald's while at the Arnell Group, Mr. Stoller knows that mere brand presence will no longer suffice. "A brand has to be seen as adding something to a person's life, enhancing it in some way."
"Working with DaimlerChrysler back in 2001, developing their gaming strategy wasn't about just putting billboards in games, because that wouldn't do anything to improve a gamer's experience," Mr. Stoller said. "So what we did was to create about another 20 hours of playability to the game -- that's about a brand enabling a gamer and adding something they wouldn't have had before."
Mr. Kingdon, while unwilling to discuss specific client initiatives, said the Experience Lab was a natural outgrowth of the persona room work, which Organic has pursued with existing clients.