Using Semiotics in Retail: Leverage Consumer Insight to Engage Shoppers and Boost Sales

by Jan 12, 2022News

Upcoming book “Using Semiotics in Retail”​ is full of original content. Here’s how it differs from the first book.

Following the success of “Using Semiotics in Marketing” (2020, Kogan Page), a very shiny NEW book on applying semiotics to retail is almost here. Available for pre-order now, “Using Semiotics in Retail: Leverage Consumer Insight to Engage Shoppers and Boost Sales” will publish on 3 February 2022 (also by Kogan Page).

But wait, that means TWO books on semiotics: how are you supposed to tell them apart? Which should you read first? People have questions! Graham Hill is currently enjoying “Using Semiotics in Marketing” (thank you so much, Graham). He asks:

“what has been added over and above your earlier book ‘Using Semiotics in Marketing’ (which I am in the middle of reading)?”

Fantastic question. Here is your handy guide. In the graphic, “Using Semiotics in Marketing” (2020) is on the left, and “Using Semiotics in Retail (2022) is on the right. Here are some helpful notes .


Using Semiotics in Marketing

It’s the most comprehensive and commercially-focused how-to guide to semiotics for marketers and market researchers that has ever been published, taking readers all the way from project planning, through analysis, to debrief.

Using Semiotics in Retail:

The first business book on semiotics which is wholly dedicated to retail, giving a revelatory view of shoppers and shopping, and equipping brand owners and retailers with a wealth of practical marketing actions for today and dynamic strategies for the future.


Both books help businesses to become more profitable, through brands, comms and experiences which resonate with consumers. They both supply specific actions and techniques that brand owners, retailers, marketers and researchers can use right away. But there are some important and unique aspects of each book, what they focus on and how they deliver.

Using Semiotics in Marketing

For agency and client side researchers, this book is a self-contained, teach-yourself course in semiotics. If you do all the exercises in the book, in order, by the end of the book you will have completed a research project using semiotics and be ready to publish your findings.

For brand owners, marketing directors, planners, and brand strategists, this book will give you a deeper, more vivid understanding of semiotics than you’ve ever had. You’ll be able to see the amazing things you can do with it and get better value than ever out of suppliers of semiotics, benefiting from highly original, strategic and creative thinking.

Using Semiotics in Retail

This is a whole book on the semiotics of retail. In previous books on semiotics, the business of retail and shopper insight, category management, retail marketing, business model innovation in retail and all the accompanying large and diverse mix of business activity, was limited to a chapter or two here and there. This is an original and much-needed book in which we give retail all of our semiotic attention.

Retail marketers, retail designers, brand owners, retailers small and large, physical and digital, will find exciting insights and actionable advice on every page of this book. Profit-generating strategies that are easy to action, right for the times we live in and that land well with today’s consumers are the focus throughout this book. The book has an international focus and draws on case studies from numerous countries.

But wait, this isn’t just a book about practical changes you can make in store that boost sales while making consumers happy, as great as that is. It’s also a book about the FUTURE. It’s about the rise of China, especially its success in digital retailing and social media, it’s about smart cities, the future of retail, the reasons why there are epidemics of worsening mental health, and the future of humanity, variously imagined by the Ministry of Defence and by Elon Musk. So that’s why you should read it, even if retail is only tangential to your job.


Using Semiotics in Marketing

– A gold-standard, classic case study showing how a household tissue brand applied semiotics and enjoyed surprise profits.

– Explicit and clear instruction on how to do THREE kinds of semiotic analysis: signs & symbols in communications; culture & social trends; creativity & innovation.

– How to use semiotics with and alongside focus groups, interview data, ethnographic film, social listening and other data.

Using Semiotics in Retail

– Unilever generously participated in the making of this book. Keith Sleight wrote the foreword and one chapter features an illuminating interview with my Unilever clients Iris Cremers and Corinne Trentadue, where they reveal how they use semiotics to improve every aspect of shopping.

– Case studies drawn from an exceptionally wide range of products, services, categories and business models. Features meme stocks, cryptocurrency and digital games alongside fashion, grocery, pharmacy, products for children, and more.

– A deep dive into top-down semiotic analysis. For senior people and busy executives who are excited by the results they see from semiotics but do not want to use their own time to decode ads and packaging. However, they DO want to fast-forward to advanced and strategic top-down thinking which enables you to envision and articulate the state of humanity and the future.

Available for pre-order now!

Get a special pre-order discount of 20% off with the code KOGANPAGE20 at

Publishes 3rd February 2022 #research #mrx #semiotics #retail #consumerinsights #retailstrategy #retail


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