Visit a well-known supermarket (ie. Tesco/ Asda) buy two food products from different ranges e.g. (Value/ Finest). Using a semiotic analysis, analyse both products, thinking about the way social differences are created through supermarket goods.
"Semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign". (Eco 1976 in Chandler D, Semiotics: The Basics).
After visiting the supermarket Tesco, I have chosen to do a semiotic analysis on a strawberry Tesco value yogurt and a strawberry finest yogurt.
The first image shows Tesco own brand 'Value' strawberry yogurt. The plain (white) plastic packaging and blue colours reflect that this product is part of the Tesco range, the use of the word ‘Value’, also signifies that the product is good value for money. The red 'Value' also connotes the products cheap prize. The plain bold writing, along with the lack of images also suggest a cheap price range.
In contrast the second image of Tesco finest range of yogurts have connotations of wealth and have a higher status value reflecting marx's idea of 'Goods being socially valued', as the packaging is silver and black, also with a large image of a strawberry reinforcing the desirability of the product, with bright vibrant colours.
Veblen's theory of consumption relies on Marxian analysis of social difference as people amass socially valued goods to portray identity and achieve social status. Again this also suggests Lasch's idea of grandiosity with reference to narcissism as a result of capitalism. For example 'shoppers' believe Tesco finest range has higher social class/value as a result of distinction with capitalism.
Baurdrillard believes that consumerism is made through a 'system of signs', for example using Barthes theory of semiotics, the Tesco Value range yogurt and Tesco finest range yogurt's main difference is through visual signs such as colour of packaging and the packaging itself, as the white, blue and red connotes the supermarket Tesco, where as the silver and black packaging along with the pictures on the luxury yogurt pot connotes wealth as silver has associations with money. Tesco Finest generally targets the higher class consumers, for example as a stereotype lower class consumers have a lower income, therefore higher social class consumers earn more, and as a result social difference is created through the price and marketing of a product. Reflecting Bourdieu's theory of three types of capital as stars (celebrities) often endorse a brand e.g. Stacey Solomon and 'Iceland', therefore suggesting that 'Icelands' products are highly prized like the celebrity. This suggests that supermarkets create social differences through the advertisement of different brands, i.e value and luxury items. "I shop for things that make me 'better' than you."