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Watch: On the Couch with Adam Ferrier

Joining RMIT Online’s next On the Couch is Thinkerbell's founder Adam Ferrier, an unstoppable force in the Australian advertising landscape

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Personalisation is everywhere, from the Netflix recommendations you are served, to your Spotify playlist. In a recent study by Accenture, 91% of consumers even said that they were more likely to shop with brands that provided relevant recommendations to them. And yet, are there cases where brands do not need to invest in personalisation for more efficient marketing?

Joining the next On The Couch series with RMIT Online’s CEO, Helen Souness, is Australia’s godfather of brand, Adam Ferrier, who will look at how personalisation and the quest to measure everything might be killing personality in brands. Check out the video above to see the full event.

For the full transcript, see below.

 

Helen Souness:

Welcome on a beautiful day here in Melbourne. And big welcome to our brand guru panelist or interviewee today, Adam Ferrier, welcome. You are on mute when you join. If you could stay on mute we'd really appreciate it just to keep the noise levels down, but you are really welcome to keep putting your questions in the chat, you'll see at the bottom of your screen if you're not a major Zoomer. By now, you probably are in COVID, but if you click chat you can put questions to all of us. So, a really warm welcome to everyone today. Before we kick off and I introduce Adam fully, I do want to acknowledge the original custodians of the lands, the big beak of Australia. We're on a big journey of reconciliation in this country and RMIT and I are very proud to acknowledge the people of the Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung language groups of the Eastern Kulin nations whose unceded lands we serve you from at the university.

Helen Souness:

I'd like to acknowledge the elders of those peoples'; past, present and the all-important future leaders. I'd also like to acknowledge all the custodians, original custodians of the lands across Australia and the Torres Strait Islands where we serve our students online at RMIT Online and undertake the business of this university. Adam, brand guru, author, media personality, original thinker, it's my favourite bit, welcome to this chat about brand experience today.

Adam Ferrier:

Thank you. Hi, how are you?

Helen Souness:

Hi. So first up, we're coming out of an extraordinary period. I need to check in with you. We're about to open up in Melbourne, how's COVID been? How've the Atlas boxes been going?

Adam Ferrier:

The Atlas boxes you're referring to, are the fact that during COVID, I've become a chef for the first time in years because there's a really amazing person called Charlie Harrington who had a restaurant called Atlas Dining. And as COVID happened his girlfriend said to him, "People can't come to your restaurant anymore, why don't you start packaging up your food and delivering it?" And the thing about Atlas Dining is, every week it changes country. So you get Mexican one week, and Israeli the next, and South American the next, and so on and so on. And so, I've been getting these boxes every week, and then cooking. And it's just been amazing, but it's also just a beautiful story about Charlie pivoting from having this fine dining restaurant to now delivering 3,000 - 5,000 boxes a week across Australia. And he's done it over 12 weeks. So I've been suffering, my life is shit, this is terrible, but Charlie's business is going really well.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. And gorgeous experience, those boxes delivered with video. Amazing. It's a beautiful pivot. Look, you've probably been also getting pretty familiar with Netflix between your cooking adventures. Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, they've kind of set the bar on personalisation, haven't they? If you like this, you'll like that, etc. When does personalisation work for you, and are there times when you don't need it?

Adam Ferrier:

I haven't really had a good example of personalisation ever. So, Netflix kind of still says titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and all these other kind of crazy things because sometimes I'll watch a movie with my son and then I'll be alone, and so it doesn't really know me, it's just kind of trying to get it right. The other thing is, what I find about personalisation in terms of Spotify and those kinds of things is, it keeps on giving me an ever diminishing tighter version of myself which after a while starts to build shit. So I think eventually on Spotify is just going to give me Paul Kelly, after Paul Kelly, after Paul Kelly, after Paul Kelly, and you know-

Helen Souness:

That's a big admission, Adam.

Adam Ferrier:

... Which is pretty good, which is pretty good. What I like about radio and broadcast is, I like the randomness, I like the genuine discovery of pushing me out to genres that I haven't heard of or whatever. And so, personalisation optimises who I already am, it doesn't help me grow. But there's very few brands that offer personalisation at any type of meaningful level. When I think about all the brands in my life, none of them offer any type of personalisation or very close to none of them, and nor should they.

Helen Souness:

So you've written a book, it's against the usual wisdom hence the original thinker. You've written a book saying, "Stop listening to the customer." So you both don't think they should personalise it and don't even think they should listen to the customer. There it is, plug, plug. What should we be doing?

Adam Ferrier:

I do a lot of public speaking and whenever I go to a company and they brief me on what the company is about, the first thing they say is that, "We're customer obsessed. And we want everyone to know that we're customer obsessed and we put the customer at the heart of our business." And it just started to sound like bullshit to me because no matter what company I went to they all said, "We're customer obsessed." And so, I started to kind of investigate that a little bit more, and I wondered if you truly were customer obsessed, would your business exist at all? Like, are you adding value to the world, or should you just disappear? Like, does the world need another cheese cakes provider or does the world need another car company? And then many years ago I had dinner with Malcolm Gladwell and somebody said, "What do you think people want from brands?" And he said, "I think they just want to be left alone," and I loved that comment.

Adam Ferrier:

And if you truly listen to the customer, you'll stay out of it, why? You wouldn't advertise, you'd be there only when and if they needed you. But we know from marketing science that's the opposite of how brands grow. Brands grow by mental and physical availability which is a fancy way of saying "be in their head all the time and being near them when they want to buy you." And so, being in their head all the time isn't being customer centric, that's being business centric. So what I try to talk about is, try to understand what your brand is, what your brand offers, be really true to your brand and then push that message out to the world. And that's what people buy. That's also the reason why I don't like personalisation because marketing always is and always has been to me, a mass market game. You stand for something, get really clear on that, you push it out into the world and people will gravitate towards that message will buy into it. You don't need to tailor that message for every individual person, but you need to stand for something and let people buy into it.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. And yet the MarTech, the kind of targeting that we now have has avoided, I mean, there was a lot of spray and pray in the old days. Reach twice the people who you are going to be relevant to, where's the line on that.

Adam Ferrier:

The spray and pray is what works as opposed to targeted messages which doesn't work nearly as well. So again, we know that for a brand to grow you need to reach as many light users of your category as possible. And they're the people who may not have entered your category for a long time, they're the people you don't have any data on. And so, as long as you can kind of keep on bringing new users into your category, your brand will grow. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses don't have the money to that approach. And so, they'll still kind of target within a smaller group, and then as they grow, they'll be able to get more and more mass. So we do see with all the tech companies is, as soon as they can afford to advertise, they do advertise and they advertise using broadcast mediums because it becomes more effective for them.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. So you're not researching your customer, you're not doing targeting.

Adam Ferrier:

No.

Helen Souness:

You're trying to tell your story. But as you say, the bulls**t meter is pretty well tuned on most consumers today. How do you tell your story in a way that doesn't come off as insincere?

Adam Ferrier:

So, not to disagree with everything you're saying, Helen, but I don't think, come on, I don't think the bulls**t meter is very well attuned to people these days. So I think this generation and forgive me for insulting a lot of people right now, but I think the younger you are, the less marketing savvy you are because, I think, people today are growing up in a marketing super saturated solution. So it feels like the cat and the apartment, everything is branded; your communications, your entertainment, the way you interact with everyone, it's all branded. When I grew up, brands used to behave themselves and they stood on the supermarket shelf, an outdoor ad or TV ad. And so, you're able to delineate much more from what marketing was versus what it's not.

Adam Ferrier:

So I think today it's really hard to delineate what's marketing, what's not marketing, but I also think worryingly, we started talking about, I don't know. So I don't think today's generation is particularly marketing savvy, but I do think they've got a high strong need, which is good, to be trying to make the right decisions to stop the world from being f****d. And so, people who can kind of promise something ethical or some kind of a way of making the world a better place, the same way as having a capitalistic business model where the brands seem to be on the whole potentially doing well at the moment.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. Interesting. I've got a really interesting question that I'm not sure I completely understand, but I'm hoping you understand it, coming from Will Calvert, which is, "What's your view on personalisation versus personification? Personification seems to be growing, given people don't want to hand over their personal data."

Adam Ferrier:

Personalisation versus personification, personification seems to be growing. Now, give us more information, Will? I don't quite know in that context what you mean by personification. I reckon one of our really interesting emerging trends is data ethics and companies starting to use data to help position themselves in the right way. So having a really strong point of view and really open policy on how they use their data, and entering into a more equal relationship with the customer on that. But that's all I could add onto that question, I'm sorry.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. And that's where I disagree with you. I reckon our younger generation is much more savvy around their data. My daughter is much more aware.

Adam Ferrier:

No, no. I agree with you on that, Helen. I reckon they're much more savvy and it means a lot more to them about data. And I reckon having a really clear data policy is something older people who run businesses are trying to catch up to.

Helen Souness:

... Yeah. Here's a great question. I'm sure you get from the odd client. "If you were a brand custodian in a low involvement category and didn't have much money for spray and pray, what is the single most important thing you do for your brand?"

Adam Ferrier:

I'd stop referring to my brand as being a low involvement category, yet as we in life say, there's only low involvement marketers, not low involvement categories. So what we see the most opportunity in, is categories that have a lot of emotional appeal, but it's still treated like a commodity. So take milk for example, milk is treated as a commodity, it's really even pricey, and yet milk is really, really obviously emotional, mother's milk and all of that kind of stuff. The milk category is just dying for somebody to come in and triple, quadruple the price and do that at a mass scale. And we started to see that like, Jones milk and stuff like that. Eggs is the other one. Eggs recently has moved from everything being priced at about two bucks a can and now get $16 and $20 cans of eggs. They treat their hens really, really well and so forth. And so, we often look for commodity categories that are treated badly and if there's strong emotion in those categories, then you can brand it and then charge a lot for perceived value.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. Really interesting. "What's your prediction on marketing budgets in the year ahead?" Is another question from the audience. "And if so, where would you spend MarTech spending?"

Adam Ferrier:

That's a really good question. One of the changes I've noticed over time is, all of my clients used to be obsessed with trying to understand the language of the board. And so, we used to have lots of marketers trying to do these really boring courses about company directors courses and s**t like this, which I've no idea what they teach. And they all did that to try to understand the language of the board. What I now see is the board being obsessed with the marketer and the board is obsessed with trying to understand the language of marketing, emotion, creativity, innovation, and things like that.

Adam Ferrier:

And we're starting to see on board structures, old board matrices is starting to build; innovation, creativity, marketing into the matrices of the board to make sure they've got those things covered. So I think what's starting to happen is, businesses are really starting to understand that the whole concept is branding, everything is about marketing. And therefore, I think marketing budgets will go up, but advertising and promotional budgets will probably go down because the more you get that it's all marketing, then the less you necessarily need to spend on just doing advertising or promotional activity.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. Interesting. So we've just done a course with you, Adam, around brand experience. How do you contrast that, contrasted marketing, legit advertising from brand experience? Where are those lines and where should the focus be?

Adam Ferrier:

We have a simple saying, which is BX before EX before CX, which is brand experience before employee experience before consumer experience. And understanding what the brand stands for and then making that permeate through everything is another way of saying business strategy, brand strategy, brand experience. So ideally, it's all one and the same thing. So if I take my agency Thinkerbell, our proposition is measured magic, which is marketing sciences meets hardcore creativity. That philosophy drives what the brand's about. It drives the functionality of how we do our meetings. It drives the types of people we employ, it drives everything, and it almost becomes our business strategy, is just pushing that one branded message out as much as we possibly can.

Adam Ferrier:

So I think brand experience is kind of... And pushing it out there as much as possible is what I would call marketing strategy. And then advertising, I think, Seth Gordon, or someone said, "Advertising is the taxi pipe for not having a remarkable product," I kind of liked that, and I think the new emerging area of creativity is earned media and trying to get as much earned stories, whether they peer to peer at all with journalists or whatever, and trying to use earned to build saliency and maintaining a constant conversation and culture without necessarily having to pay for it is what really excites me.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. And how do you get the attention? I mean, there's a question here that you can almost feel the toughness of the market at the moment at a manufacturing driven businesses just in survival mode, say, for that marketer, asking that question, Matias. How do they get the attention on that whole experience when companies are in survival mode? Those marketers doing those company courses, that was because they couldn't get cut-through at the board. How do you get cut-through today to have this conversation and focus on that brand experience?

Adam Ferrier:

Well, I think is, just to be crass about it, there's two ways do it. Number one, look at the consumer and wondering what they're doing in COVID, post COVID, coming out, or number two, look inward and understand what your brand stands for, and also understand what your core competencies are as a business. And then looking at how you can shift those or mitigate those. And just to give you two quick examples of how we've done that with two clients. One of our clients is, 13 Cabs. At the beginning of lockdown they realized that there were going to be less people on the roads. They looked at their competencies, they can move things from A to B. So they said, "Right, we're not going to move humans, we're going to move things. And so they pivoted to become 13 Cabs to 13 Things. Now, they're a really successful career business.

Adam Ferrier:

The other one is Vegemite. And so Vegemite, we constantly use their media and one of the things, we wanted to launch an easier form of Vegemite. And so, we just tried to launch, I think, Vegemite squeezy where you can just squeeze it on to stuff. But in order to launch that, we pretended to launch it using a double sided knife. So it was a knife with two ends it, so your Vegemite and your butter didn't cross contaminate. We launched that pretending we've solved the solution of mess around the kitchen with Vegemite, but that was just kind of a pretend solution. The real solutions is Vegemite squeezy. And that's just an understanding that we're going to launch this new product, but let's get as much attention with it as we possibly can, and then focusing on creative solutions on how to do that.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. I liked the double ended knife, Adam.

Adam Ferrier:

Yeah, it's great. It's good. I did too, but people aren't using it. It's a little ad. And again, that's just a little ad in the kitchen for Vegemite as well which helps to reinforce brand saliency.

Helen Souness:

Brad's new to digital marketing and he's currently doing an email nourishment automation. What's your advice to him?

Adam Ferrier:

Go forth and conquer. Is there any more specifics to the question?

Helen Souness:

No. I mean, I guess, we all now as marketers and business people are doing these email journeys. I mean, is that back in your... If they haven't logged in for a while send this, these are the nourishment journeys that CRM system's are commonly using now. If they showed interest a while ago and haven't yet bought, let's ping them again, etc., with the latest offer. Is that, back to your enemy, you don't think that's appropriate, do you think there's a way to do that well? Is this back in your kind of competencies?

Adam Ferrier:

Yeah. I'll say, I reckon you're not doing it for what's good for the customer, you are doing what's good for your own business. I mean, let's just start with that and be frank. We've realised lots of people kind of get obsessed to trying to work out what they can do for the customer whereas brands that get obsessed about what the customer can do for them are the brands that tend to succeed really well. So brands that get the customer to invest back into the brand do well. So IKEA would be probably the most famous example of that. You invest a lot of time shopping, invest a lot of time in the store going around this big maze. You buy the thing, you co-create it, by the time you've done all of that you've invested loads in IKEA therefore you'll love it.

Adam Ferrier:

There's a really good marketing scientist called Steven Dooley, and he talks a lot about behavioral economics in the world of direct communications. And one of the big findings is, open rates of brands or open rates of emails that ask for something rather than offer something, get opened a lot more. So just in your world, if you can just re-orientate yourself to stop thinking, "How can I add value to my customer?" And start thinking, "What can my customer do for me?" You'll get more open rates, and then you potentially, if you get a customer to do something for you, if you get them to give you feedback, if you can get them to answer why they keep ignoring you and don't like you, then they're one step closer to liking you. So try to get them to invest into you rather than you offering them something.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. And maybe it's the same answer to probably getting to some of our last questions. You'll be pleased to know, Adam, we've kept around 300 people on, so well done. Good work. But a great one from Sarah Wolf to say, "How do you get brand cut-through in a digital environment where there's just so much noise, we've all been living on our computers for months, how do you get cut-through in that world?" What would your advice to her be?

Adam Ferrier:

Pretty similar answer. Think about the consumer as the departure point, not the end point for anything you do. So be honest with yourself and think, "I'm going now to give the consumer something. Is this worth them doing something with?" And if it's not, if they're just going to get a chuckle out of it or wry smile, then it's probably not a good enough solution. If they're desperate to share, to pass it on or whatever, then do it. The other alternative is, create stuff that's got in-built share-ability. So create stuff that your customer will get a benefit from if they push it to their friends or pass it on like a really crude example is, member get member type of things, Uber, Facebook and all of those kind of businesses have got socialisation built into the actual product. And that's what made those things spread. And you can do the same thing in your communications. You can have socialisation built into your communications, so they have to kind of spread it. So think about the consumer being the departure point, not the end point for anything you do.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. I had the timing wrong. Sorry, Adam, I was about to cut us short. We've got longer, we've got another 15 minutes. So apologies everyone, I was about to cut us.

Adam Ferrier:

That's all right.

Helen Souness:

... I know. Let's see how we go with keeping everyone for another 15. Awesome. Yep. When you said earned, by the way, there was a followup question, what do you mean? Do you mean just PR, do you mean social, etc.? What do you mean when you say...

Adam Ferrier:

I mean, earned is the whole thing, anything. One person talking to another person I have a back pain, it's one person passing something on that you're not paying for in organic. A journalist writing about it, just any kind of thing that you don't have to pay for. I'm sorry, I think I said Steven Dooley, I think it's Roger Dooley and his book is called Brainfluence, Roger is asking that question.

Helen Souness:

Awesome. Thanks. This is a really interesting question. In terms of getting to creative outcomes, having these amazing ideas, what do you think is more important; creative people, or your creative design processes? I guess this is getting a bit more inside your agency.

Adam Ferrier:

Wow, I love that question.

Helen Souness:

It's really cool.

Adam Ferrier:

Design processes. I think we're all creative but some of us are more creative than others, and some of us have better creative solutions. But as a business owner, if I can create a process that extracts the most creativity out of everybody, then my business is going to be better rather than relying on brilliant creative people. So as a business owner I would say create an environment that allows that to happen and allow that to be replicable, it would be the right thing to do, I think.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. Awesome. And what do you do to create those processes without giving too much to it?

Adam Ferrier:

No, no. We try to get rid of baton passing and we try to get rid of silos, we try to empower everybody within the agency to have creativity. We don't rely to a few separate people although some people, if nobody else can crack it, some people have to. We form squads to the size of a problem. So if it's a really small problem and really simple then one person will get assigned to it, if it's bigger or more complicated there'll be more people.

Helen Souness:

Great idea.

Adam Ferrier:

And then we also tend to separate cracking the central idea to then cracking bits of creativity that then bolt on to that idea. So it's kind of feels like a layered thing. Once you've got a creative solution. So a brand called Klarna, that makes it easier to do shopping and pay for things later, which is launching today. This kind of idea we've got, is launching later, and it's a really beautiful central idea, but then there's lots and lots and lots and lots of bits on how it comes to life around that as well. And so, they're two separate things, you get the central idea first and then agree on that and then let that go wild.

Helen Souness:

And individuals run with that kind of process?

Adam Ferrier:

Yeah, and report back to the two people who had the original idea, importantly, because they're the ones who understand the idea of the most.

Helen Souness:

Awesome. Some great comments. Sorry, I'm just looking for... Oh, this is a good one. I bet you've got an opinion on this. In a world of share-ability and media, etc., What's your view on the relevance of net promoter score, that old chestnut?

Adam Ferrier:

God, I do love that question. I like that question could we debate it a lot. We do the NPS at our agency, so we track our NPS with our clients and we track it with our employees as well. And I love it because it's benchmarked across industry and it goes up and down. When we're doing well, it goes up, when we're doing not so well, it kind of goes down. So I think it's really useful, and it's an easy thing to have a conversation about because everybody understands what you're kind of talking about. So yes, I'm actually a massive fan of it.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. Interesting. There's someone a bit more on the career advice side. Jess with a psychology background like you, what's your advice for utilising that background in a marketing career?

Adam Ferrier:

Get registered. Everyone's got a psychology background, sorry, Jess, was it?

Helen Souness:

Yes.

Adam Ferrier:

No, was it? So lots of people have a psychology background. Everyone does undergrads in psychology, but if you can call yourself a psychologist, psychology is really interesting. People still think that you can read minds and all that kind of shit. It's got massive perceived value to be a psychologist. So if you can do anything to get registered, and then make sure when you do get registered, that it doesn't suck all the creativity out of you. Psychology is so obsessed with the scientist practitioner model, but it's very risky business as an industry. But anybody who can genuinely claim to understand human insight is going to have a very, very successful career. It's a really hard skill for the robots to take off us, and with creativity as well. But whoever owns the insight can kind of start to own the brands.

Adam Ferrier:

So being really, really good at understanding people is very, very important. And being a psychologist is a good shortcut to proving that you understand that. And the other thing I'd say just on that, I reckon what I always look for in people is people who've got an interesting story to tell. So going deep on something obscure is a really good way to get a job because then your employer will always have something interesting to say about you because you're the person who is in the punk band, or you're the person who does this and it just helps pull you apart. So go deep on something obscure.

Helen Souness:

What's yours?

Adam Ferrier:

Mine is, I used to work in the prison system so I can always drag out stories on prisoners and those kinds of things.

Helen Souness:

All right. Yeah, I do. A really interesting one from Famel, in one of those podcasts that you're talking about, I think, from Dooley, he heard Gary Vaynerchuk say, "Why do one big brand idea when you can do multiple customer centric ideas for different platforms?" In your opinion do you believe one universal brand idea will still work on lots of different platforms?

Adam Ferrier:

Yeah. I mean, try not to listen to Gary V. about anything I think is probably the most sensible thing to do. So brands work by having common understanding. So a person doesn't buy a Ferrari because it's really expensive. A person buys a Ferrari because they know that everybody else knows it's really expensive. So brands work by having shared cultural meaning. So the brand has to stand for something at its core for everybody to kind of buy into. Once you've understood something at its core, absolutely, you can have different parts of that brand offering different things to different customers, if you want to. And having a sugar-free version for people to watching their weight or whatever, whatever. But having a central idea, a really strong central idea of what the brand's about and rolling that through everything, is vital and I think always will be.

Helen Souness:

And what...

Adam Ferrier:

But maybe not, you look at Amazon and I've got no idea what their idea would be. So, you can either be the big global company that takes over everything and f***s the world, or you can have a clearly defined brand, but you have to do it. It could be one of those two things.

Helen Souness:

... Yeah. Those monolithic companies that gets pretty hard, doesn't it? Google is the same. It's pretty hard to know where they stand.

Adam Ferrier:

Yeah.

Helen Souness:

Yeah. An interesting one around kind of, and maybe it was spurred by your kind of thinking around making a consumer act with your brand. What do you think about these companies that are allowing customers to bespoke? Coke with its putting your name on it. Nike custom shoes, Spotify playlists. What do you think of that?

Adam Ferrier:

What's interesting is those brands don't care whether you're bespoke or not, those brands are getting you to invest into them. So those brands are getting you to put time, effort, self identity into that brand, and through a process called cognitive dissonance, that's what hooks you into that brand. So if you ever create your own personalised pair of Nikes, you will be much more loyal to Nike after doing that than before you did that. There's something called the effort paradox, it's the same thing that drives IKEA's business. The more effort you put into something, the more you value it. And so, all of those types of examples and Share a Coke was one of the things I did with an agency many, many years ago. It's all about just getting people to invest something of themselves into it and Share a Coke was about you buying a Coke for somebody else. And so, once you do that, once you do the brand a favour, you're going to like that brand more for having done so.

Helen Souness:

Yeah, amazing. It's the psychology purchase. Here's an interesting one from Varsha, "If a brand is starting a new service, I mean, maybe it's even for milk example from earlier, where the pricing is really high in the market relatively, how do you convince the customers to really come to that brand? It might be justified by the costs behind it, how do you take that premium position and succeed?"

Adam Ferrier:

There's probably three different answers to that. Number one, look at a concept called the price placebo. So the price placebo means the more you pay for something, the better people instinctively are going to think it is. So pricing is positioning. So the more you charge, the better it's going to be. The second point is, you're going to have rationalisation as to why people are going to buy that, but that rationalisation could be wafer-thin. So on your shampoo bottle there's 5 little ticks at the bottom of every shampoo bottle. Nobody knows what those little ticks are, and nobody's ever read them, but those 5 little ticks mean, "Oh yeah, s**t, this shampoo is good," same kind of thing. So the more expensive you are you have to have rationalisation.

Adam Ferrier:

And then the third thing is, just remembered, nobody ever wants to buy the cheapest of anything. None of us do. We all want to buy the most expensive thing of whatever it is that we can afford. So we shop in price bands, and we look for the most expensive thing that's within that price band and that's what we buy, and that comes back to the price placebo. So, the more mature a category is the more they realise this. So cars through the roof, ice cream realised this about 15 years ago. And so ice cream has moved up from $1 a punnet to $16 a punnet, huge emotional value, and it just happens. That's why with milk, I still think in the next 5-10 years is going to quadruple in value because people want to buy the best version of what it is, whatever they can afford.

Helen Souness:

You obviously don't have a Scottish background Adam if you think that's why...Tell me, in terms of your views on brand experience, soon as the Scottish...The people doing the best job in 2020 in your view, and in terms of brand experience and really telling their story?

Adam Ferrier:

In Australia, Koala. I love what they're doing. I love how they've built their brand. I love their approach to earn, I like how true they've build their style into their brand experience.

Helen Souness:

Can you give us some examples on that, just what do you love about it?

Adam Ferrier:

I like the way they use earned media, I like the way they get lots of talk-ability in the marketplace and I like their slightly punk attitude to marketing, I think it's quite cool. Closer to home as well, I like Four Pillars Gym and I like their view and they stay very, very true to their product and kind of keep on delivering a product story, product story one after the other. I don't think any of these brands are doing consumer research. Globally I love IKEA and Apple and I like Apple because it's so non consumer centric, nothing about that brand gives a f**k about the consumer at all. It makes life really hard for consumers. It has extreme inbuilt obsolescence, got lots of dongles, and all these kinds of things. It's got weird payment systems that locks people in, it doesn't care about us at all, but it's a massively successful business.

Helen Souness:

Yeah, amazing. There's a UX researcher here, Tara, she is just, obviously, spends lots of her days, I imagine, doing customer research. "What is your view of the value of understanding customer problems before building a new service or product with some of your other comments?"

Adam Ferrier:

I like the way that question is framed. Just in my experience, I've seen solutions developed before the need, and more of the need has been identified before the solution. And so, I know that goes against what I should be saying. And then on the other thing on human centered design is, what I see about that is, I see human centered design is really good at solving issues, but not good at creating magic. So there's issues in the customer journey or whatever, and then it kind of plugs those. The metaphor I use is, "it's like fixing potholes with post it notes", it just creates a smoother road, but it doesn't add any value or any magic or anything beautiful. It just eliminates bumps. And so, I don't think that's particularly cool, but I do like the question I do value customer insight.

Adam Ferrier:

Our approach to customer insight is, go to marketing science first and then go to people around the consumer you want to speak to, but don't speak to the consumer directly. So speak to people who know the consumer. So it might be the barman, it might be their parents, it might be their husband or wife, but never speak to the consumer about the consumer because we all lie. And the third thing is, if you are going to ask consumers something then ask them about the immediate context. Don't ask them to project forward, don't ask them to project back, just ask them to speak about what's happening directly around them at the moment because they're terrible historians, and we're even worse predictors of our own behavior.

Helen Souness:

Amazing. Well, I think, we might end on that note. We've kept most of them, Adam. We've done all right.

Adam Ferrier:

Thank you everyone for listening. Thank you, Helen, this has been fun.

Helen Souness:

This has been really fun. Thank you. The audiences is obviously a really interesting bunch. There's been awesome questions. I abandoned mine very early because yours were better. So thank you everyone for participating.

 

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