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Meet Rebecca Brooks, Phil Dance, and Angela Woo of Alter Agents

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Brooks, Phil Dance, and Angela Woo.

Alter Agents is a full-service market research consultancy founded in 2010 by Phil, Rebecca, and Angela. They are industry veterans who felt technology had moved the consumer beyond the traditional tools researchers used to uncover consumer insights. Their business began on the premise that established research methods were out of step with how consumers see the world. In collaboration with their clients, they began exploring new ways of talking to consumers about what influences them, how they make decisions, and where brands fit in the story of their purchase decision.

That work led to the creation of the concept of “promiscuous” shopping. Consumers are much less brand loyal than they were just a few years ago. They have so many brands to choose from, some that are even upsetting the category norms, and the frictionless economy of the Internet allows them to pursue whatever they wish. Not only is this changing what is getting bought, but it is changing how we think of the world. Fantastic user experiences in one category – hailing a car from an app on your phone – set our expectations to be higher in all transactions. Consumers now expect innovation in a category. They want to purchase something new and interesting. Online shopping has inverted the role of the brand. Now shoppers search on price, features, reviews and then see what brands come up, rather than thinking of the brand first and then exploring options.

Their work has been vital to their clients – Hyundai Motors America, Viking River Cruises, California Lottery, BuzzFeed, and Google among them.

As industry thought leaders, they’ve published articles, eBooks, spoken at numerous conferences and have appeared in Bloomberg and Forbes.

Has it been a smooth road?
Our road has absolutely been bumpy and I believe we’ve just recently found our stride in the last 18 months. When we began, we had an idea, but no evidence. Also, our idea seemed too impossible to implement for many of our early clients. Traditional research had been essentially unchanged for decades. Asking them to give up standard norms, “best” practices, and trends was quite challenging. Plus, we were not a known entity.

After a few years of trying to figure out how to grow the business, we realized we needed to take our own advice. Stepping out of the business and thinking of ourselves as a brand, we developed a marketing and business development strategy which focused on our clear point of difference from other boutique research firms. We also reorganized our team structure to allow more time for ideation, creative collaboration, and exploring new ways of researching. We also built a data loop involving our client feedback, our financial metrics, and employee experiences. This information helps us iterate constantly – ever refining our messaging and tools.

We didn’t grow overnight. It takes the full 18 months to see the fruits of this labor. But, we are on track to double our revenue from 2017 and now have people reaching out to us from referrals and finding us through our thought leadership. This doesn’t mean we are going to slow down. Our industry is rapidly changing and nothing will stay stagnant for long, so we must continue to push ourselves to stay relevant.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Alter Agents works with brands and ad agencies to elevate the voice of their customers and potential customers. The insights we generate enable them to make smarter marketing, product, and sales decisions. We specialize in deep immersion with client issues, consumer-centric research methodologies, and packaging insights into meaningful, actionable. stories.

We are most proud of our client retention. Deep into our seventh year, we’ve retained all but one of our initial clients from 2010. Those remaining clients have continued to increase their spending with us year after year. Clients we’ve on-boarded in recent years also show increased spend and number of projects. We aren’t proud of this because of the money we are making. Rather, we are proud of the relationships we build with our clients and how they’ve brought us into some of the most complex decisions they are making for their business.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I moved to Los Angeles in 1999 for a better career and haven’t left. LA is full of possibilities. Many of our clients are local – Hyundai, Viking River Cruises, SoCal Gas, Karma Automotive, and Commerce Casino. The diversity and scale of businesses in our area make it a fantastic place to grow our company. We also have the best talent. Recent local university graduates, colleagues from competitive businesses, and even our clients provide us with a wealth of talent to draw from as we expand our business.

We love having our office downtown. Not only are the food options amazing, but the central location of our office allows us to draw employees from Palos Verdes to Valencia to Glendora. The only downside of working downtown is the escalating price of parking. We’re now paying $275/month per employee to park. Metro travel is improving, but is still inconvenient for most of our employees.  As a small business, it is something for us to consider as we plan our growth in LA.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 617 S. Olive Street
    Suite 1010
    Los Angeles, CA 90014
  • Website: www.alteragents.com
  • Phone: 213-612-0356
  • Email: rebecca@alteragents.com
  • Instagram: alter_agents
  • Facebook: AlterAgents
  • Twitter: @Alter_Agents

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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