Global and Multi-National Advertising

By Basil G. Englis | Go to book overview

12
Developing A Text-Theoretic Methodology for Analyzing Subcultural Market Segments: A Pilot Study

Robert J. Corey West Virginia University

Jerome D. Williams The Pennsylvania State Unlversity

Marketers typically look for segmentation bases, such as culture, race, ethnicity, gender, and so on, that allow consumers to be placed in homogeneous categories so that specific advertising programs can be targeted to them. Because language is the device most often used to convert private thoughts into public expressions, it has the potential to play a crucial role in the development of our understanding of any market segment. Some psychologists believe that no other activity gives the same sort of insight into another person as does language. In fact, some early psychologists believed that higher mental processes could not be analyzed experimentally; they felt that the only way to understand complex psychological processes was by analysis of cultural products, which put the study of language in a central role ( Miller, 1990).

Analyzing the use of language by different market segments builds on interpretivist methods employed by other researchers who have recently examined the use of language by consumers and advertisers; For example, word associations to capture the psychological meaning of products ( Friedmann, 1989), linguistic characteristics to create brand names ( Vanden Bergh, Adler, & Oliver, 1987), and symbolic anthropology and semiotics to understand the meanings of products (Durgee, 1986).

However, these interpretivist methodologies are not without controversy, particularly as they relate to the familiar consumer research debate between the proponents of positivism and interpretivism ( Hudson & Ozanne, 1988). Researchers in the latter domain would reject the positivist notion that consumer segments could be studied like the physical world in a controlled experiment. They would argue that each segment must be examined from

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