World pairs: semiotic cross-cultural stimulus material

John Nolan (The Collage Shop, UK), Al Deakin (University of Westminster)
and Monty Alexander (Semiotic Solutions, UK)


The MRS Dictionary of Market Research defines stimulus as:

... any means of provoking a response, the commonest form of which (it goes on to say) is the question.

This paper, however, concerns itself with the narrower category of visual stimuli and in particular with the collage board.

Visual stimulus material fulfils a number of roles within qualitative market research. It is used, for example:

  • to introduce (and sound out) responses to new (or existing) concepts, ideas, prototype ads, new packaging, store designs, brands, corporate identities, etc;
  • to help respondents articulate their feelings and opinions about all these matters;
  • to stimulate their imagination, creativity and interaction in discussion..