Imperfection can make brands more desirable in age of authenticity says Adam Ferrier

Adam Ferrier talking at Mumbrella360 today

Adam Ferrier talking at Mumbrella360 today

Brands could become more desirable if their marketing contains flaws or blemishes, behavioural scientist Adam Ferrier has claimed.

The global chief strategy officer at ad agency Cummins & Partners, said that mistakes can increase brand preference because consumers in developed markets such as Australia and Japan like marketing to reflect reality, not an idealised portrayal of a brand.

Talking at the Mumbrella360 conference in Sydney, Ferrier said that a desire for authenticity and a move away from mass produced goods was making imperfection more desirable in mature consumer markets – as long as brands already have a solid platform of trust.

Ferrier used as the example of craft beer Little Creatures that benefited from peeling labels on its imported bottles. “Being craft you get forgiven,” Ferrier quoted the co-founder of the brand as saying.

Blemishing may work in “review culture” too, Ferrier suggested. Some bad reviews, mixed in with the good, can help make a restaurant or hotel more desirable he said, citing the ‘Reverse reviews’ campaign for Art Series Hotel in Melbourne, where hotel staff reviewed the clientele.

Brands that can admit they’re not perfect and communicate that will gain favour, Ferrier said, referring to ‘The pizza turnaround’ case study for Domino’s in the US.

However, the consumer psychologist noted that the idea of “purposeful blemishing” would not work in developing markets such as China, Indonesia or India.

“In developing markets, this wouldn’t work. In these markets, brands still play an aspirational role. But in developed markets, brands are expected to reflect reality, so people tolerate blemishes – as long as they trust the brand to begin with.”

The thinking is based on a social psychology theory called The Pratfall Effect, which is the idea that the attractiveness of a individual will increase if they make a blunder, as long as they perceived to be competent beforehand.

Robin Hicks


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.