we are
strategists
in relentless pursuit of
Insights with soul
to craft ideas that soar.

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The world is bigger
than any one view of it.

With insatiable curiosity, we embrace the human experience to reveal new possibilities and connect brands and people in meaningful ways.  With care and respect, we pursue untold stories that open minds, and provide the rocket fuel for breakthrough outcomes.

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the context of
Real life matters.

To understand what people need and want, we must understand their context.  Socioeconomic realities, cultural norms, interpersonal relationships, unconscious behaviors, and deeply held beliefs – it all matters.  Context clarifies who people are and what they need.  

intimacy creates

True understanding

We honor being invited into the deeply personal spaces where hopes, dreams, fears, and vulnerabilities live. We’ve proven that the more true and real the connection, the better the ideas.

with our whole heart & whole mind, we find the

Connections that others miss

We are seasoned strategists intentionally blending the disciplines of social and cognitive science, business management, creativity and storytelling to transform fuzzy problems into focused solutions.

 

Our Services

 

STRATEGIC
FRAMING

Using the power of curiosity to see a challenge anew. 

HUMAN
UNDERSTANDING

Revealing the untold stories of the human experience.

INTUITIVE
INNOVATION

Expertise in the art and science of ideas.

 

BRAND
ACTIVATION

Integrating brands into the human experience.

RETAIL
EVOLUTION

Modernizing decision-making moments.

HUMANIZING
BUSINESS

Capabilities and training to create human-centric organizations.

 

 

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Our
Knowledge
Areas

We are social scientists, business strategists, brand-building creatives and designers studying what moves and motivates people across all aspects of their lives.  With thousand of conversations, dinners, drinks, shopping trips, hugs and tears, we have developed deep expertise in the big topics impacting all cultures, companies and organizations today.

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We are on a mission to


Humanize the
business world

Over our careers, we have seen that when we start with the human experience, it leads to big ideas that work for real life. We bring years of experience in Consumer Insights, Brand Building, Strategy Development, Innovation, and Behavioral Science to every business challenge. But brains alone don’t cut it.   We bring heart, soul, and truth.  

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katie
Waterson

Opportunities come from examining a challenge with a whole-brain and a whole-heart.   

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When business leaders give themselves permission to bring both to the table, magic happens. I love a complex mystery and the challenge of a messy problem. My journalism roots always bring me back to the best place to start looking for answers – people and their stories. I’m a fierce advocate for the consumer – who they are, what makes them tick, what they believe and why – so that my clients can get beyond the surface and deep into the ways of becoming meaningful, beloved parts of people’s lives. And that takes both brain and heart.

I live for the big stuff – creating game-changing new brands, products, services and business models with the human experience leading the way. For close to twenty years (ahh!), I’ve partnered with multi-nationals, foundations, non-profits and government agencies to create brand and business strategies up and down the value chain at both big and boutique firms like Motiv Strategies, Peer Insight, Interbrand and Brandstorm. From women’s health and men’s grooming, to food, fitness, beauty and home, if you want to get up close and personal to real opinions and points of view shaping today's consumer context, we’re your people to see the world and your business in a new way. Creating Waterson Garner with Maggie and Karen has been an incredible experience; each new project and relationship is a gift.

I have an MBA from George Washington University, and Bachelor’s Degrees in Broadcast Journalism and History from the University of Missouri. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio with my two young sons and husband.

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maggie
Garner

Human understanding is the greatest untapped source of competitive advantage. 

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I have been talking with people about their lives my entire career, and every conversation still feels like a gift. The human experience is endlessly fascinating, always changing, and I am lucky enough to be able to study it to build ideas that make life better. That moment when we reach deeper understanding and something clicks, comes into focus, and goosebumps appear on arms across the room - that’s what it’s all about.

My background is in Consumer Insights as a classically trained researcher at Procter & Gamble, working across many product categories with consumers all over the globe. For most of my 12-year career at P&G, I led efforts to ignite the intersection of insights and ideas, building new capability and methods for driving consumer-centric insights into Strategy, Innovation, and Brand Building. My role in leading Human Insights Innovation at P&G inspired me to dedicate my work to human-inspired business ideas. WatersonGarner is where I am able to demonstrate the promise of insight as true competitive advantage for our clients. And I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Indiana University, and currently live in Boulder, Colorado with my family.

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karen
Hillis-Skipper

Powerful strategies recognize that we far more often act based on how we feel, not what we think. 

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I wrote a letter to ad agency legend David Ogilvy asking for career advice at the age of 13. At least two things remain constant in the more than 30 years since: my geeky curiosity and an insatiable fascination with the intersection of behavior and brands. As scientific research reveals more and more about the relationship between our brains and our behavior, I get most excited about clearly seeing the real human problem to be solved and enabling answers that intuitively work.

Starting out in the advertising world (I was on the team that crafted Coca-Cola’s very first website – unreal!), I moved into brand and innovation consulting. With stops at a handful of inspiring firms along the way, I’ve spent the past couple of decades working with incredible brands that most of us interact with every day across a range of industries from FMCG to Food & Bev and Healthcare. The initiatives that have made me most proud are those that resulted in ideas that could truly enrich the lives of the individuals who bravely let me in to their world and let me see their truths. That’s why my partnership with WatersonGarner feels like home.

I have an undergraduate degree in Business/Marketing from James Madison University, dabbled a bit at Stanford University in Strategic Decision Making and American University in Anthropology before recently completing my Masters in Behavioral Economics from The Chicago School. While raised on the east coast, my partner and our daughter now call Cincinnati, Ohio home.

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