A couple of weeks ago I attended a Winter School training course on Semiotics, run by the most excellent Susan Bell (you can find her here).

She started the session with a video clip that I love, and had used before to ‘define semiotics’

BBT: Sheldon Explains Semiotics


I think Semiotics is a fascinating area, which warrants further exploration amongst researchers.  It’s one that people often say they use or are informed by, often because they think it sounds impressive, rather than because they possess any real knowledge on the ins and outs of what it is.  It is a cool word to put into proposals – but one researchers are often not sure how to back up.

Yet at the same time, I think it is something that many of us unconsciously use to some extent when we are doing our research.  We just don’t know the frameworks or the language.  However we do know (or our participants know) that something about the way the pack is presented, the colour of that logo is just ‘off’,  just ‘not quite right’ for that category.

As researchers, we tend to come at issues from the consumer perspective, using psychological theories and training to get to the heart of the issue.  In contrast, Semiotics allows us to explore the socio-cultural influences on consumer behaviour – which gives us another side of the story and in the end, a more well rounded picture of any issue.

I’d encourage everyone to have a look at the frameworks of semiotics in more detail.  They will give us a language and system to explain dominant, emerging and residual trends within a category.  To help give guidance on how to better express a feeling, and idea or an insight in a category to the consumers.

Where to start?  Well, here’s something I prepared earlier



One thought on “Semi-WHAT?-ics

  1. Thanks for the ‘most excellent’ Victoria! I am glad you have been inspired by semiotics. Semiotics has many applications, some of which we haven’t even thought of yet. It gives us insight into consumers, into categories and target markets that we cannot get from conventional research.

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