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Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing

Edited by Russell W. Belk

The Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing offers both basic and advanced treatments intended to serve academics, students, and marketing research professionals. The 42 chapters begin with a history of qualitative methods in marketing by Sidney Levy and continue with detailed discussions of current thought and practice in: research paradigms such as grounded theory and semiotics; research contexts such as advertising and brands; data collection methods such as projectives and netnography; data analysis methods such as metaphoric and visual analyses; presentation topics such as videography and reflexivity; applications such as ZMET applied to Broadway plays and depth interviews with executives; and special issues such as multi-sited ethnography and research on sensitive topics.
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Chapter 23: Critical Visual Analysis

Jonathan E. Schroeder


Jonathan E. Schroeder Marketing often relies on strong visual identity. Products and services are promoted via images, corporate image commands increasing attention and images of identity pulse through marketing communication, consumer households and mass media. Many battles of the brands take place in the visual domain. Furthermore, the Web mandates visualizing almost every aspect of corporate strategy, operations and communication, bringing visual issues into the mainstream of strategic thinking, and spurring research and thinking about perception and preference of visual displays. Critical visual analysis offers researchers an interdisciplinary method for understanding and contextualizing images – crucial concerns, given the cultural centrality of vision. If marketing depends upon images, including brand images, corporate images, product images and images of identity, then research methods in marketing must be capable of addressing issues that such images signify. By connecting images to the cultural context of consumption, researchers gain a more thorough (yet never complete) understanding of how images embody and express cultural values and contradictions. This chapter presents qualitative methods for researching images, including advertising images, websites, film and photographs. I draw on a theory of visual consumption to show how cultural codes and representational conventions inform contemporary marketing images, infusing them with visual, historical and rhetorical presence and power. To illustrate how theory informs critical visual methods, I invoke an analytical concept of consuming difference to describe a relational framework of contemporary branding campaigns. I discuss how marketing communication draws upon the ideology of the group portrait as a visual technique...

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