Adam Ferrier is a Consumer Psychologist with degrees in clinical psychology and marketing and he is also the Founding Partner at Naked Communications. Ferrier began his career working at a maximum security prison in forensic psychology and has since worked everywhere from advertising agencies to marketing consultancies and has even run his own private practice.
In 2004, Ferrier founded Naked Communications and the company focuses on building brands while also changing behavior. Ferrier is a member of the Australian Psychological Society and the Society for Consumer Psychology, and he sits on the Ethics Board of The Communications Council.
Ferrier also runs the website, The Consumer Psychologist and his unique specialty interests make him a sought-after guest for television and talk radio. He is also a regular columnist in a number of publications.
How did you become involved in Psychology? Was there a seminal moment or did it happen gradually?
It was actually a seminal moment in my life. I wasn't doing well at school, so when I was about 16 I went to see a tutor. The tutor asked me what I was interested in and I said I was interested in money and I was interested in people. He said, you should become a consumer psychologist. At that moment I thought to myself, well that is exactly what I want to do then. It was weird. The guy's name is Kim Soia, and is now running a tutor school in some dodgy area of Australia. True story.
How did you get involved specifically in consumer psychology?
When I graduated, I got a job in the forensic setting and I went to work at a prison and in a private practice for a while. A friend of mine, who was a brand manager working on cake mixes, was running some focus groups on women baking cakes. So he rang me and asked if I wanted to get involved in this project. I said "yes".
From there I rang up a recruiter and the recruiter got me an interview with a company called "Added Value". So then I made the switch from criminal psychology to consumer psychology and I've been here ever since.
So what would an average work day as a Consumer Psychologist entail?
We have a number of different clients. One of the first things we need to do with clients is to try and understand the consumer insights and consumer motivations. Then we work on strategies and ideas of how to change consumer behavior on behalf of our clients.
For example, lets say we have a car client, and they want to launch an electric car. Well our job is to understand the motivations behind buying that car versus buying a petrol car. So we need to understand those motivations for consumers as well as point out ways we can change the consumer's behavior. This will then form ideas and creative development.
What are some of your favorite things about being a consumer psychologist?
I love the diversity of challenges. I like being involved in helping co-create the brands that end up shaping the world. You get to see the brand actually influence yourself as a consumer, and you get to see it begin to influence others as well.
Is there anything about your job that can burn you out, or negatives about your job that wear you down?
I really enjoy cynically optimistic people-people that are very, very cynical of the world but remain optimistic throughout that. So no, I don't get burnt out. I try to remain entirely optimistic all the time. Yet if you saw me on any given day, you would think this guy is completely over his job, but I'm not, I love it.
Do you have any advice for people with an interest in a career in consumer psychology?
Yeah, the only advice I would give is that this career is a lot of fun. If you're vaguely interested, I would say give it a go. It's very rewarding.
You will need a psychology degree, and to become a licensed psychologist, and then consider getting a marketing degree. The first step would be becoming a psychologist. You have to be a licensed psychologist to get a job, but then I would focus on marketing for your education. It's important to understand marketing and business in this field.
So at one point you worked in the forensic field, can you talk a bit about that?
I was a criminal psychologist for a while, and I loved it. I absolutely loved criminal psychology. I tried to do both for three years. I would do consumer psychology Monday through Friday and then, on the weekends, I would go and do criminal psychology. I'd go into the prisons, see an inmate, and then write a report. I did that for three years and then it just got exhausting after a while ,so I had to stop. But it's fantastically interesting and rewarding. Funnily enough, my mom likes to say that "I used to be saving the world but now I'm destroying it."
Do you see the field of consumer psychology changing rapidly and what do you expect in the future?
In the world of marketing, it's becoming more and more difficult to create a brand in an increasingly crowded environment, with increasing business pressures. So people are looking for more assurance. Consumer psychology and behavioral sciences are helping clients get that assurance. It's a growing field and it's going to get bigger and bigger as clients are looking for a more robust human understanding of their brands.
For more information about what exactly a consumer psychologist does and how to become one, please feel free to visit our Consumer Psychologist page in the careers section of our website.