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New research from TNS reveals why we love brands with the highest 'IQ'

7 May, 2014

Irresistible Brands 2014

LONDON — 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 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 TNS and companies can access the tools to make their brands more desirable than ever.

To diagnose irresistibility, 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, 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, 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 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, 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.

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.”

About TNS
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, 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. 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 TNS NeedScope
NeedScope is 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

For more information:
Tina Mathiesen
Senior Manager, Internal Communications and Engagement
d +44 (0) 20 3130 7385
m +44 (0) 79 4990 0477

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