Image of Escher's Relativity

What can Market Researchers learn from Escher?

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Miracle of Escher exhibition at the Ueno Royal Museum. After the visit my mind turned to the lessons market researchers can draw from the works of MS Escher. 1) The first lesson is that humans see patterns, even when patterns are not really there Escher’s Belvedere creates a building that can’t actually exist. If you look at the man and the ladder, you will note that it sits across the narrow dimension on the bottom floor, but arrives at the wide aspect of the upper floor. Most researchers will have faced a situation when there is an error in the data, but their initial response is often to make sense of the data. They tend to see a pattern when one does not exist. 2) Stories can help identify problems By following a story through you can often see the fallacy of a false pattern. Taking the example of Belvedere, If we follow through the story of the man on the ladder we can see that he starts on the narrow side of the building but arrives on the wide side – a contradiction that should tell us […]

Sign with two directions

What is semiotics and how is it used?

At the most basic level, semiotics is the study of how meaning is made. We often hear that semiotics is the study of signs, but that is only true when we take a very broad view of what a sign is, i.e. anything that communicates a meaning beyond itself. For example, the word Rose is a sign that can signify the plant, and the plant (a red rose) can be a sign that signifies love or passion (or the England rugby team). At one level, we all interpret signs every day of our lives, we negotiate the signage of human interactions, purchases, work, travel etc. In most cases we do this successfully because we have learned how to decode and use the signs in our everyday lives. However, the ability to understand how other people interpret signs, how new signs might be interpreted, and the linkage between different signs is a specialised discipline, that of the semiotician. Where semiotics becomes useful to marketers, market researchers, and insight professionals is where we hope to change behaviour, which typically means either creating new signs, or changing the way that signs are interpreted. For example, a brand wants to launch a new breakfast […]

Image of framework of knowledge

What is a Framework of Project Knowledge?

Post by Ray Poynter, 10 July 2017 On 19 July I am running a workshop on finding and communicating the story in the data for the Japanese Market Research Association (and a similar one in London for the MRS on 5 October 2018). One of the concepts I will be covering is how a Framework of Project Knowledge should be utilised. Below I have set out the basics of this way of thinking and working. As the image above shows, the Framework is divided into four segments. Known Unknowns In most well run research projects this segment is usually covered effectively. This is what market research has traditionally focused on. The researcher asks the client what the business questions are, what success would look like, and what actions they plan to take after receiving the insights from the study. From these elements the researcher can define what needs to be discovered through the research process. Known Knowns This element has two key aspects. Firstly, finding out what relevant knowledge already exists. This includes things like previous research projects and published information, but also includes the assumptions that the business is operating under and predictions about the results of the research. […]