Overview of the metaphorical map market. Part 1. Selling cards


Metaphorical associative maps (MAC) are increasingly flooding the consulting services market and are increasingly being used by people for personal use, regardless of the type of activity. In this article, we left out the question of the types of MAC and the effectiveness of this tool, and instead decided to turn to numbers and statistics: what exactly interests the audience, what sellers offer and how much it costs.

Metaphorical associative maps are called a psychological tool that appeared in Russia relatively recently and has been actively disseminated in the global psychological practice. Created back in 1975 by M. Egetmeyer and art history professor Eli Raman, metaphorical maps have already become a traditional psychological tool. The cards are based on the principle of projection, that is, the consultant works with the client’s projections on visual metaphors. Usually, metaphorical cards are sets of surreal and metaphorical images the size of playing cards: drawings, paintings, photographs, in which a person can find a projection of his attitude to the world, people around him, to work, to realize the underlying causes of his own experiences and barriers that prevent him from revealing the potential of the individual .

For commercial purposes, the implementation of metaphorical cards is actively practiced by psychologists-consultants, coaches, tarologists, artist-designers and specialists in various fields working with people. Most often, one person acts as a seller in the role of a psychologist registered as an individual entrepreneur. Often there are tandems in the person of two or triumvirates in the person of three specialists working as a legal entity. The most common trading channel is online trading and live sales (for example, after trainings and consultations). The most frequent trade formats are branded online stores, large online stores selling various groups of goods (Ozon.ru), online bookstores (Labyrinth.ru), online stores of metaphorical cards and psychological games (MaCards, “Makomaniya”).

The difficulty in analyzing the market for metaphorical cards is that there are no reliable and even dubious statistics on them, so even experienced players do not judge its volumes, preferring to talk about the market for psychological services. However, here the situation is extremely confusing, because psychologists can call themselves not only those who provide medical services (they can still be somehow counted), but also a huge number of people who are not related to medical activities.

Search terms

Some idea about the topic of metaphorical maps, and in particular, about the level of interest in it in recent years in Russia, is given by the analysis of search query statistics. So, according to Google Trends, the popularity of the query “metaphorical cards” has been steadily growing over the five-year period from 2012 to 2017. The trend is also confirmed by the statistics of the Yandex.Wordstat service, which indicates a threefold increase in similar requests made by Russian Internet users since July 2015.

In addition to the growth of the key request, one can note an increase in the number of users who want to purchase metaphorical cards, which is a more telling characteristic. There is also a threefold increase in requests compared to 2015. The popularity of a similar query (“buy metaphorical cards”), according to Google Trends, is also growing, although at a slower pace than the “metaphorical cards” query. 

What exactly interests users can be understood from related search queries and queries with the content of the key phrase “metaphorical cards”. Table 1 presents the 10 most popular queries on this topic made by Russian Yandex users.

Table 1. The most popular search queries of Russians related to the topic of metaphorical cards*

No.RequestNumber of impressions per month
onemetaphorical cards13 064
2metaphorical associative cards2996
3buy metaphorical cards2007
4metaphorical cards online1 312
5metaphorical cards download1 177
6metaphorical cards free823
7work + with metaphorical cards612
eightmetaphorical cards free download593
ninebuy metaphorical associative cards511
tenDovlatov’s metaphorical cards377

*according to Yandex Wordstat data for 06/14-07/14/2017

It is worth noting that among the total number of search queries, 13.6% are queries for certain types of metaphorical cards. In such requests, users additionally indicate the topics of interest to them, the names of the decks, the authors of the cards, or the names of the companies that create the decks. 18% of users in the query indicate an interest in working with metaphorical cards or learning how to work with them, and a third of the queries indicate that the user is interested in the possibility of online learning or online work. The content of 22.2% of requests reads the desire to purchase metaphorical cards for oneself. Moreover, the number of those who are ready to buy metaphorical cards is equal to the number of those who are not ready to give money and want to download the cards for free. The shares of such requests in the overall structure are 11.1% each.

Buying and selling metaphorical cards

The peculiarity of selling metaphorical cards as a psychological tool is the desire of potential buyers to first get acquainted with their work. Today, according to some of the most reputable market players, the sale of metaphorical cards has become a widespread hobby for non-professionals who want to make quick money. The authors and sellers of many metaphorical cards are not psychologists and do not have a psychological education, which cannot but affect the quality of the product. They also often violate the copyrights of the images used, either by downloading them from photo stocks without permission for commercial use, or by simply reprinting them. Therefore, the key factor is the factor of trust. This explains the desire of buyers to first familiarize themselves with the work of cards online, visit a consultation or webinar from a specialist in metaphorical cards, read reviews. Among power users, there is a tendency to buy several types of metaphorical cards and even collect the best decks for various needs. At the same time, even people previously familiar with metaphorical cards are quite sensitive to their value. At an inflated price, the user first looks for ways to download maps for self-printing, which seems to him a safer solution.

The author of the article analyzed the offer of 10 online stores that are on the first lines in search engines and offer metaphorical cards for sale (more than 750 products). The average cost of one deck of metaphorical cards was 1,780 rubles (July 2017), while the price range varies from 197 to 6,000 rubles per deck. It turned out that the cost of more than 56% of goods is from 1000 to 2000 rubles, i.e. most sellers stick to the middle price range. 15.7% are low end decks. These are the cards that can be purchased for an amount that does not exceed 1000 rubles. Finally, the number of goods worth more than 2,000 rubles in the supply structure is 27.8%. 14.4% falls on metaphorical cards from 2000 to 3000 rubles, 10.9% on cards costing from 3000 to 4000 rubles and 2,

The relative ease of making cards, the reluctance to overpay, and sometimes the inability to find the “perfect deck” that meets individual needs, encourages many buyers to create personal decks. To create your own maps, there are even special services that allow you to create metaphorical maps in just a few clicks. For example, one of them is offered by the well-known company in this market “1000 ideas” .

Popular metaphorical associative cards

Among the abundance of metaphorical cards on the Russian market, it is often quite difficult to single out which decks are more effective and better, since there are no criteria for this. However, a certain ranking can be built based on the results of voting among users and authors of the MAC, as well as by analyzing the search queries of the Internet audience.

In 2016, the Macomania project, which unites the largest store of metaphorical cards in Russia and the largest online community of amateurs and professionals MAK, held the first international award “Golden Metaphor 2016”. The selection of the best decks was carried out by online voting of community members in several categories. According to the results of the voting, the “1000 Roads” deck of the “1000 Ideas” company was recognized as the best Russian MAC deck. The first place among the Ukrainian nominees was taken by the “Source” deck authored by Y. Demidova, and among the Kazakhstani ones – “Memories of Childhood” by T. Fedorova. The cards of some well-known foreign manufacturers of MAK decks (German Oh, Dixit) were divided into separate categories, among which the best decks from the series were selected. Full voting results for 25 nominations are given in Table. 2.

Table 2 Best Metaphor Decks*

The best Russian MAC deck1000 roads.Author: 1000 Ideas Companyresources and forces.Author: S. Filina.Whips and gingerbread.Author: T. Ushakova.Alter ego.Author: K. Dovlatov
The best Ukrainian MAC deckSource.Author: Yu. DemidovaArchetypes.Author: N. Borisova, N. ChukinaLife is like a miracle.Author: E. MorozovskayaDreams about the future.Author: E. Morozovskaya
The best Kazakh MAC deckMemories of childhood.Author: T. FedorovaWoman’s world.Author: T. FedorovaTales of life.Author: G. BalmakhaevaSeasonsAuthor: T. Fedorova
The best Israeli MAC deckMerlin. Messages and insights.Author: I. ShmulevichAnima.Author: I. ShmulevichAnibi.Author: I. Shmulevich
Favorite Mac Deck1000 roads.Author: 1000 Ideas CompanyShe is.Author: K. KrugerSore.Author: O. Oyalon
The best all-around MAC deckEmotions.Author: Konstantin Dovlatov1000 roads.Author: 1000 Ideas CompanyDixit.Author: J-L. Rubira
Best Portrait Archetypal MAC DeckAlter ego.Author: Konstantin DovlatovFaces.Author: G. Demidov, Y. DemidovaTotem animals.Author: L. Kuznetsova
The best MAC coaching deck1000 roads.Author: 1000 Ideas CompanyHow.Author: S.GrachevaLooking for an answer.Author: S. Romulus
Best Resource Deck MACresources and forces.Author: S. FilinaSource.Author: Yu. DemidovaBig little me.Author: M. Davidenko
The best MAC deck for working with the I-image, I-conceptTotem animals.Author: L. KuznetsovaThe image of a woman.Author: Yu. DemidovaThe image of a man.Author: Yu. DemidovaAbout you. Metaphor of female identity.Author: Galina Batishcheva
Best Women’s MAC DeckSvetoch.Author: S. PankratovaAnima.Author: I. ShmulevichAbout you.Author: G. Batishcheva
The best MAC deck for working with traumaFrom the chest of the past.G. Katz, E. MakhamatulinaSay goodbye to live.Author: M. TravkovaWhips and gingerbread.Author: Tatyana Ushakova
The best MAC deck for dealing with relationships and the family systemDuet.Author: I. ShmulevichAnibi.Author: I. ShmulevichMan and woman. Force of gravityAuthor: N. Ognenko, E. SchannikovaRelationship WorkshopAuthor: V. Muromets, V. RateevaAbout you. Metaphor of female identity.Author: Galina Batishcheva
The best MAC deck for working with childrenFrom the chest of the past.G. Katz, E. MakhamatulinaFairy tale master.Author: T. Zinkevich-EvstigneevaCatomotions.Author: K. Dovlatov
Best natural MAC deckThe voice of the heart.Author: A. HudanTree as an image of a person.Author: G. Katz, E. MakhamatulinaRiver.Author: G. Salpeter
Best MAC Fairy Deck (for storytelling)Svetoch.Author: S. PankratovaFairy tale master.Author: T. Zinkevich-EvstigneevaYarn Mama ShamanAuthor: Y. Mori
The best tarot deck used as MACNicoletto CecolliAuthor: N. CecolliOSHO Zen Tarot.Author: Osho78 doors.Author: A. Pietro
The best narrow focus MAC deckMy true path.Author: N. MatrukhanovaRalph.Author: V. GoloborodovaSay goodbye to live.Author: M. TravkovaWhips and gingerbreadAuthor: T. Ushakova
Best Abstract MAC DeckColors and feelings.Author: M. ZhigamontPortals.Author: K. DovlatovFire flickering in a vessel.Author: T. Ushakova
Oh-Verlag’s Best MAC DeckOH-CARDSCopeMoraine
The best deck of Dixit (Dixit)Dixit 1 “Basic Set”Dixit 7 “Revelations”Dixit 2 “Opening”Dixit 3 “Journey”
The best electronic MAC deckHome of my soul.Author: Yu. Loginova-Karaseva, Yu. VoroninaRelationship branches.Author: E. PerevalovaEarthworm Ivan cardsAuthor: E. Truskova
MAC deck with the best methodological guide1000 roads.Author: 1000 Ideas CompanyFairy tale master.Author: T. Zinkevich-EvstigneevaTotem animals.Author: L. Kuznetsova
The best book-manual on MAC1000 projections.Author: T. Nikitina, L. Sysoeva, E. Nazarenko, N. Blagoveshchenskaya (1000 ideas)The world of projective maps.Author: E. MorozovskayaStrawberries outside the window.V. Kirschke.
Opening 2016About you. Metaphor of female identity.Author: Galina BatishchevaSay goodbye to live.Author: M. TravkovaThe image of a man.Author: Yu. Demidova

according to the results of the Golden Metaphor 2016 award

Most of the nominees are among the top 15 decks with the highest search volume. As follows from the statistics of the Yandex Wordstat service for July 2017, among foreign MACs, users most often searched for products by the German company Oh-Verlag, as well as the Israeli art therapist Gali Salpeter and the Belarusian artist Natalia Zhigamont.

Table 3. What metaphorical cards Russian Internet users are looking for*

Position (requests)Deck NameDeck AuthorCompanyThe country
Foreign MAC decks
1 (1055)Persona (“Person”)Eli Raman (Oh-Verlag)Germany
2 (301)Morena (Morena)Valde Mar (Oh-Verlag)Germany
3 (298)SoretOfra Ayalon, Marina Lukyanova, Moritz Egetmeyer (Oh-Verlag)Germany
4 (248)Roads (Roads)Gali SalpeterIsrael
5 (236)colors and feelingsNatalia ZhigamontBelarus
6 (212)SagaEli Raman, Moritz Egetmeyer(Oh Verlag)Germany
7 (143)Personita (Personita)Eli Raman, Marina Lukyanova, Moritz Egetmeyer(Oh Verlag)Germany
Russian MAC decks
1 (621)From the chest of the pastG. Katz, E. Mukhamatulina (Genesis)Russia
2 (555)Ways-RoadsG. Katz, E. Mukhamatulina (Genesis)Russia
3 (170)Alter egoKonstantin DovlatovRussia
4 (135)Master of fairy talesTatiana Zinkevich-Evstigneeva, Pavel BorozenetsRussia
5 (111)Emotion (Emotions)Konstantin DovlatovRussia
6 (88)1000 roadsTatyana Nikitina, Lilia Sysoeva, Elena Nazarenko, Natalia Blagoveshchenskaya (1000 ideas)Russia
7 (82)ArchetypesKonstantin DovlatovRussia

* according to the Yandex Wordstat service as of July 2017.

Among the Russian-made metaphorical maps, Internet users were most often interested in the maps of the Genesis publishing house (G. Kats, E. Mukhamatulina), as well as the maps of famous psychologists K. Dovlatov, T. Zinkevich-Evstigneeva and the 1000 Ideas company. The most reputable market players, as a rule, are the authors of programs, trainings, courses, books and manuals based on their own methods. For example, K. Dovlatov’s method is “Spiritual integration”, which the author defines as the ability to enter a state of fine-tuning of the mind, body, energy, emotions and fate, T. Zinkevich-Evstigneeva has “Complex fairy tale therapy”, based on psychological work with adults and children using fairy tales, the company “1000 Ideas” has a method of psychological cards – an improved model of metaphorical cards,


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