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Semiotics & Deep Qual Mash-up

Semiotics & Deep Qual Mash-up


Our Claire is a big fan of Semiotics… so she’s got us thinking more broadly about how Qual and Semiotics can work together…

One idea we’ve had focuses on the future gaze and how good semiotics is at identifying emergent codes that can then be explored through more conventional qualitative (even quantitative) research methods…

However, it’s worth thinking about qual and semiotics working in tandem too.

One of the qual methods that Claire and I were introduced to by Qual legend Geoff Bayley at RDSi (back in the day, waaay back), was PCP. Personal Construct Pairs. Could the outputs from these sessions be shared with Semioticians in one helluva analysis mash-up which delivers both a cultural and consumer future-focused perspective?

So what are PCPs and how do you do them?
Friendship pairs are introduced to a value or concept that is being explored, say for example Luxury… and the friends are asked to come up with spontaneous thoughts, feelings associations that come up when they think/ see/ feel luxury…

Key associations are then noted down and the most interesting ideas that emerge are then ‘laddered’ – you explore ‘why that is important to you?’, and aim to get to the absolute highest order value around why something is a strong need or want. You can also look at ‘opposites’, and explore ‘how would I know?’ too… (How would I know luxury..? Someone who loves luxury..?). What emerges are different slants or takes on luxury, connected to what that particular person values, linking back to their life story…

The insight you get is deep, this is all about surfacing thoughts and feelings which are otherwise buried. And to that end the insights can be very future focused because emergent as well as core needs/ drivers bubble up.

Really useful, interesting, insightful qual needs a bit of a do-over. These days we are so often about fast insight we forget to go deep.

AND We love the idea of intersecting ‘deep qual’ with semiotics, or perhaps behavioural science, or perhaps both!


Kath Rhodes, Qual Street Owner

I love love learning and so I invest time and resources with Ambreen and Claire into exploring social psychology, neuro science, creativity and new techniques in research. Read all about it and help yourself to the ideas that will deliver your business the insight it needs

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