Major U.S. Publisher
Approached with the task of driving innovation in an “old media” company, my team delivered not only a slew of product ideas as requested, but also a heuristic for developing many more of them. We took the task a step further and developed a single, frame-breaking product that would create new opportunities for value generation and growth and provided a product development plan that realigns the company culture to create the conditions for continued innovation.
To capitalize on the company’s wealth of quantitative data, we had to first step back and understand its brands and their audiences qualitatively. We focused initially on the company’s high profile women’s magazine and, through editor interviews, we learned how editors use intuition to filter content ideas through the persona of their target reader: the stylish woman.
Through questions, introspection and observation we discovered that reading a magazine is a ritual, personal and sacred, which we called “magazining.”
This process was externalized on our living wall to generate feedback and develop the raw data into three personas — psychographic profiles that represented the character, values, and activities of the target readers’ real and aspirational lives.
A thorough understanding of our reader personas allowed us to create a single composite persona, Olivia, and develop a “week in the life” of her daily activities. From the trend data the company had collected, we identified trends most relevant to the brand and to Olivia. Randomly “mashing up” trends with daily activities provided a starting point for brainstorming an endless number of product and service ideas specific to the company’s readers.
A growing female biker trend inspired us to turn our study on its head by performing the same qualitative investigation into another publication, one focused on motorcycling. What hidden connections were we missing between these readerships? How had other media handled their audiences’ fragmented interests and demands…Tivo, Pandora, etc. How does reader browsing behavior influence their selection of content to consume?
We created a product, or rather a digital media platform, that allows the reader to become a curator and coproducer of content (building on Richard Norman’s theory of dematerializing business assets and rebundling them to maximize user capabilities). While editorial intuition still drives the selection of content to be produced, the curation of content to be consumed — across all of the company’s magazines — is reassigned to the reader and aided by powerful like/dislike algorithms.
Developing this platform, which we named TRIM, to align the company with the changing publishing landscape required a new way of working internally across disciplines and across publication silos.
Through open communication and eventual policy change, departments collaborate, silos diminish, leadership and innovation emerge.
The new culture is necessary to support a new business model revolving around the new product, TRIM, one that enables the company to sustain a competitive advantage in the ever-changing landscape.
- Ethnographic Research
- Trend Analysis
- Vision Setting
- Experience Design
- Strategic Consulting
- Presentation & Pitching