London: 7 May 2014 – Ground-breaking new research has revealed the drivers of irresistibility, telling us specifically why the world loves L’Oreal, Red Bull and Audi – and why other brands never quite make the cut.

Experts at Kantar TNS have analysed over a thousand household names to identify the collective components of the world’s most irresistible brands. What was once thought to be an intangible quality has now been quantified by Kantar TNS and companies can access the tools to make their brands more desirable than ever.

To diagnose irresistibility, Kantar TNS has developed the Irresistibility Quotient (IQ) based on how well a brand meets the needs of its target consumers.

Using NeedScope, a proprietary research system, Kantar TNS has uncovered what lies at the heart of irresistibility, which will be critical to helping brands actively improve their IQ. Eight drivers of irresistibility contribute to a brand’s IQ: Know-how, Momentum, Differentiation, Emotion, Symbolism, Nexus, Alignment and Unity. It is only when applied as a complete framework that businesses can take their brands a step closer to becoming an irresistible choice.

A perfectly irresistible brand would have an IQ of 100 against a particular consumer desire. Only four percent of brands evaluated achieve a score of 80 or higher, underlining how few have unlocked the secret of irresistibility. Unsurprisingly, there is a correlation between those brands with a high IQ and commercial success. For example, Kantar TNS has found that one of the world’s most famous pen producers, Parker, achieved an IQ of 80 or higher in some of its strongest markets.

When Johnnie Walker, the no. 1 Scotch whisky brand in the world, was assessed against its target consumer desires, it was found to have greatest potential for irresistibility with consumers who want to feel assertive and confident. A deliberate focus on activating the eight drivers of irresistibility has helped the brand globally score an impressive IQ of 79 with these consumers.

Roz Calder, Director of Kantar TNS’s NeedScope International, says: “Competitor brands have long wondered what gives Johnnie Walker a hold on the market. We now know that it is irresistible because the brand has become almost synonymous with what these consumers want; once they decide they want a whisky, there is only one choice they can make. This makes competing with them very difficult – unless you are equipped with your brand’s IQ and can unlock the drivers of its irresistibility.”

For every brand with a high IQ, Kantar TNS found hundreds that are insufficiently applying the drivers of irresistibility and therefore underperforming. Almost one in three brands (29 percent) have an IQ under 50, failing to recognise their consumers’ primary needs and the motivations behind their purchase decisions.

Generally, brands performed less well in developing markets, averaging an IQ of 54 compared to 62 in Europe. In mature and highly competitive markets, brands in well-developed categories can only survive by carving out and defending distinct territories with truly irresistible brands. What’s more, those brands that remained true to all the elements of irresistibility are also the ones that have best weathered the economic storm, suggesting that irresistibility helps recession-proof brands.

Kantar TNS found that brands with the highest IQ are also the bravest in recognising that they can never appeal to every individual. Category leaders like Audi (automotive) and Bose (technology) know what their most loyal customers want and, in applying this, are prepared to turn others away. This explains why courageous ‘love it or hate it’ brands have gone on to become category leaders.

Roz continues: “Becoming one of the world’s strongest, most popular and recognisable brands does not happen by accident. These brands have scrutinised and applied the drivers of their irresistibility. These traits are deliberately and determinedly engineered over time, to make the brand an instinctive choice, and to make competing with it impossible. Rivals in their categories have two choices: either they can focus on becoming irresistible themselves, or they must be prepared to get out of the way.”


The eight drivers of brand irresistibility


1. Know-how: Is your brand a credible expert?

Credible know-how is a basic hygiene factor for any would-be irresistible brand, providing the System 2 brain with conscious proof that this particular brand knows what it is doing. Know-how can be earned over time by product performance (Bang & Olufsen), instantly achieved through technological breakthroughs (Dyson) or acquired through expert endorsement (Nike and sport).


2. Momentum: Can you stay ahead of the game?

Irresistible brands evolve in ways that keep consumers interested and engaged. They remain true to the characteristics that made them irresistible while anticipating and leading change. For Coca-Cola, gradual evolution over the course of a century has delivered exactly the cadence required; for Samsung, in a category defined by constant change, a wave of high-quality innovation has been required to deliver real momentum.


3. Differentiation: Do you have the courage to stand for something?

Irresistible brands don’t just need a point of difference; they need a point of difference that really matters to consumers, and the courage to focus on this point of difference even when it means rejection by some. In Dove’s case, a differentiated and decisive brand positioning around ‘Real Beauty’ has enabled it to claim ownership of product qualities such as moisturising, in a way that others find difficult to challenge.


4. Emotion: Do you know what your emotive meaning is?

Emotion gives irresistible brands unique meaning in the eyes of their consumers, and an instinctive attraction that goes beyond rational reasons for purchase. Mastery of emotion in relation to particular consumer needs lies behind the magic of irresistible brands. For instance, a pharmaceutical brand may use white laboratories and lab coats to address an emotive need for reassurance and control; financial institutions may use symbols of tradition and power to evoke emotions of stability. Irresistible brands know what their emotive meaning needs to be.


5. Symbolism: Do you have your own emotive language?

Symbolism is the language of emotion and a key set of triggers for decisions by our fast, intuitive brain. Irresistible brands understand the symbolic meaning in everything and apply the secret language of colours, shapes and images to evoke particular emotions. In the fragrance category, perfume brands rarely use words to describe their products, but differentiate themselves through symbols such as the materials of the packaging, shape of the bottle and the colour of the liquid within it.


6. Nexus: Do the different elements of your brand add up?

Brands satisfy three layers of conscious or unconscious consumer need: functional, social and emotional. When the ways in which it addresses these needs flow naturally from one another, the brand has high Nexus. These types of brands are more convincing as the emotions they stir are strongly reflected in their function and social identity. Red Bull’s bold, adventurous proposition ladders through all layers of the brand. The social identity is young and cool, the product has many active ingredients and promises to vitalise body and mind by giving you wings.


7. Alignment: Is your brand consistent across touchpoints?

Aligning look, message and emotion across every different touchpoint is one of the greatest challenges for would-be irresistible brands. Once achieved, alignment enhances irresistibility and maximises marketing budgets. Audi’s promise of refinement and class and emotively linked product promise of cutting-edge technology and design, informs every aspect of its identity: from brand logo to retail showrooms – every touchpoint is a temple to design and technology.


8. Unity: Could your brand remain recognisable across products and categories?

Irresistible brands provide owners with a powerful asset that can often be leveraged across several products and categories, stretching their appeal while retaining an inherent unity of brand architecture. Virgin has proved an irresistible brand in categories broadly related to entertainment, where its maverick emotive positioning has strong resonance; when it stretched into Cola this brand unity was challenged. In contrast, Johnnie Walker has maintained impressive unity of brand architecture across a range of variants that enable it to appeal at many different price points.

- ENDS –

Notes to editors

Methodology: calculating the IQ score

Kantar TNS uses its proprietary research system, NeedScope, to evaluate how well a brand meets consumer needs and in doing so, determines its Irresistibility quotient, or ‘IQ’. A brand has multiple IQs, each one relating to a different consumer needstate. The single IQ given to a brand is its maximum IQ, relating to the needstate where it is, or has the potential to be, most irresistible.

To calculate a brand’s IQ, Kantar TNS evaluates consumers’ needs and their image of the brand, measuring both against the same criteria. These include functional, social identity, emotive and symbolic perceptions, all of which are measured using projection to help reach the subconscious layers driving choice. 

To determine a score, the measures are correlated to evaluate the fit between what consumers need and how they see the brand. These correlations are then scaled to create a 0 – 100 index.

Below an IQ of 50, the brand has no advantage within the needstate. From 50 to 70 the brand has good potential for irresistibility. By 80 the brand has a very significant advantage within the needstate.

About Kantar TNS

Kantar TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and customer and employee relationships, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, Kantar TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world.

Kantar TNS is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit for more information.

About Kantar TNS NeedScope

NeedScope is Kantar TNS’s world leading research system designed to help develop and manage irresistible brands. NeedScope has identified eight drivers that combine to deliver irresistibility in brands. These are applied, along with a psychological framework, a consumer–brand relationship model and globally validated projective tools to diagnose and build your brand’s irresistibility throughout the marketing process. NeedScope provides marketers with a powerful brand planning framework to drive brand strategy and achieve their brand’s ambition of irresistibility.

About Kantar

Kantar is the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. By connecting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 28,500 employees work across 100 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. For further information, please visit us at