“This is intended in good spirit, but I’ve got horrible things to say,” joked consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier as he took to the stage at August’s AMSRS conference. As an opening gambit to a room full of market researchers, it proved to be spot on.

“I worked for many years in market research. I love research, but the whole industry needs to be blown up… and it’s killing brands. We need to stop listening to the consumer and hear our brands instead,” Ferrier stressed.

As for how this was to be achieved, Ferrier’s wisdom can be neatly summed up in these seven talking points.

1) “You can spend 20 to 30 years in research but never learn about marketing,” Ferrier explained. This is not a good thing in Adam’s world. “We need to train researchers in marketing and team researchers with marketers. If you understand marketing better, you will get so much more out of your research,” he added.


2) “Brand is a promise kept and the most valuable thing the company owns,” Ferrier stated. Strong brands, he added, marry what people want, with what people do.


3) Putting the customer first above all is something of a trap. “Everyone talks about customer obsession and it’s doing my head in. Stop listening – it’s not accurate, it eliminates value and makes you homogeneous,” Ferrier advised.


4) Putting too much focus on what people want is also buying into a false economy. “It’s starting to dominate the conversation over what we do. Data is getting out of control. Customer knowledge is going through the roof, but knowledge of what a brand stands for is plummeting,” Ferrier said.


5) According to Malcolm Gladwell, “If you asked the consumer what they really wanted, they’d say they want to be left alone”. Mental availability is actually created largely by advertising, Ferrier says. “Essentially, you need to be persistent. Building brands means being in consumers’ faces and ensuring things are sticky.”


6) The most powerful business card must be the Chief Brand Officer, not the CEO. “Apple might be consumer-unfriendly, but one of their keys to success was putting the CEO and executive creative director together in the same room every week,” Ferrier revealed.


7) “Be honest about the limitations of market research: dive into how inaccurate it is and lean into its weakness. What we really need are stronger insights at strategic level,” was Ferrier’s parting advice.

Ekas Research
Ekas Research jaxon@ekas.com.au

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