The Meaning behind Death Images in Brand Research

How amazing would it be if brands could peek into the subconscious minds of their consumers? Imagine if they could find out exactly how their consumers feel and what they associate with their brand? With this information, brands will be able to make insightful and data driven marketing decisions that could impact their business.

What you find when you do an I-Factor® study might shock you.

A recent study on the QSR category first shocked, and then, delighted us. Instead of relating  some of the most popular QSR brands like Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut to images of clowns, kings and colonels, consumers chose images that were truly morbid. Images of toe tags, cigarettes, and even a snake eating a mouse came up time after time. We affectionately call these images “death images.” And what they can mean for brands is actually very encouraging.

What’s great about a Death Image?

While death images might seem overtly negative, as a marketer who is really devoted to getting at the truth about what drives consumer behavior, I feel very excited about them and about I-Factor®’s unique ability to get at that kind of imagery and the data behind it. Because I-Factor® uncovers all the things that consumers are thinking but won’t say out loud.

For example, consumers associate Pizza Hut (a billion dollar brand) with an image of a corpse with a toe tag. Wendys, images of cigarettes. And McDonald’s, jumper cables. Initially, these these kinds of results may be hard for a brand to come to terms with, but the learning represents an incredible opportunity for visionary marketers to truly and deeply, understand their consumer’s mindset and use those insights to connect with them through much more compelling communications.

Think about this, even with all the knowledge we have about the poor nutritional value in most QSR ingredients, Americans haven’t stopped eating fast food, although the industry is struggling for growth. We feel that dip in sales and the struggle for growth is coming from the fact that, at the subconscious level, consumers know it’s bad for them, hence the images we associate with death and unhealthiness.

From Death Comes Life

While the images surprised us at first, we quickly realized that from death comes strategic life. But these insights provide a few very clear paths for QSR brands. And they probably don’t point to pretending that the food is good for you. Because even if they’re not saying it consciously, at the subconscious level, consumers know the truth.

So how do we turn this inherent guilt into a competitive advantage? Enter I-Factor®

This combination of data and insight cannot be uncovered with traditional research.

I-Factor®, our proprietary research tool. It is both quantitative and qualitative and focuses on measuring a brand’s Irresistibility Factor®, which we is the true measurement of a consumer’s relationship with a brand.

There are two parts to an I-Factor® study. The first part of the study is quantifiable data that leads to a complete analysis of your consumers relationship with your brand. And the second part is where we dive deep into the consumer’s subconscious and pull out juicy, actionable insights. The Irresistibility Scores are actually the numerical representations of a brand’s Irresistibility, while metaphor elicitation works to explain the reasons behind the scores.

Contact me for a free consultation. It might be just what you need to bring new life back to your brand.