Author: Rachel Lawes
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 44 Quarter 3, © 2002 The Market Research Society
On the one hand, semiotics seems to be everywhere one looks. It has been around for a long time, it gets at least a cursory mention in the standard textbooks on researching consumer behaviour and there probably isn’t a single market research supplier or client who doesn’t know of its existence. On the other hand, in practice, semiotics is hardly used. Not many agencies offer it and I find that while clients are often quite excited about semiotics once it has been properly explained, few people request it as a service up front. When they do, it is rarely the only thing or the main thing they are interested in – it is treated more often as a supplement to another form of research such as qualitative groups. Things are changing – there is more interest in semiotics now than there used to be – but generally people remain cautious about dipping their toe in the water. I think that is a great pity because as someone who has been involved with semiotics and its wider family of research methods for a long time I am tremendously enthusiastic about what it can do for clients that more traditional forms of market research cannot offer. I will share some of those benefits with you in this paper. Ultimately I hope to help spread semiotics around. I would like to see it become much more mainstream so that it is more widely available through more agencies, and so that more clients come to see how easy semiotics can be both to understand and use.
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