Semantic Differential

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Companies, corporations and organizations often use ways to understand how their customers perceive their products. This allows them to gain a better understanding of what can be changed, while maintaining their core mission and vision. One way companies, corporations and organizations build upon the strengths of their brand is through the use of the Semantic Differential survey. 

The Semantic Differential survey "provides marketers with a highly flexible tool for understanding how customers perceive product offerings. With this information, marketers can take steps to build upon product strengths and reduce or eliminate associated weaknesses" (Fortenberry, 2012). The survey, or scale as it is often called measures conceptualizations that people have about the products that companies and corporations offer. The scale is "set up using polar adjectives at each end. There are two aspects of meaning: denotative and connotative. The semantic differential measures connotative meaning. After examining the connotative meaning of thousands of concepts, Charles Osgood and his associates identified three major dimensions of meaning: strength, value, and activity" ("Semantic differential," n.d.). In addition to being an evaluation survey, the Semantic Differential "can also provide valuable insights into competitive offerings. Gaining this knowledge simply requires that marketers circulate an expanded survey that includes a section for respondents to complete concerning competitive products" - such s those from Tory Burch (Fortenberry, 2012). In determining how both customers and employees felt about a particular company, the company chosen was Banana Republic clothing store. 

The same survey questions were administered to both consumers and employees. First, the consumers were asked to provide their opinion on Banana Republic. The scale was not modified in any way as there were differentiating factors that allowed customers and employees to speak their minds about the organization. Five consumers were asked, and five employees were asked. All but one consumer noted that Banana Republic parking was convenient. The one customer that did not marked in the neutral area. It was not that this customer was indecisive in their decision, the person just could not significantly indicate whether the parking at Banana Republic was convenient or not. All of the consumers felt that Banana Republic had convenient hours which were the next question on the survey. None of the consumers felt that Banana Republic had low prices. All of the consumers marked near the high prices side of the scale. This will provide Banana Republic an outlet to perhaps lower their prices given the responses. The fast service question received a blend of responses. These fell in the middle of the scale, which indicated that the majority of the consumers (at least those that were asked) had a neutral or somewhat felt that the service was not fast at Banana Republic but were not completely convinced either that the service was slow. All of the consumers noted that they felt Banana Republic had clean facilities. The product selection question fell in the middle.

Banana Republic in itself is a clothing and accessories retailer that is owned by Gap Inc. When examined underneath the microscope of the Gap Inc. stores (Banana Republic, Gap & Old Navy), Banana Republic is the upscale of the three stores. It has been denoted as being a luxury clothing retailer as the theme of the store is typically high-end and one of a kind items. Many of the consumers added that they felt that Banana Republic did not have a wide-ranging clothing selection, but the responses were in the middle of the scale. This indicated that the customers felt that Banana Republic was not weak in terms of product selection but were not as a strong as proclaimed either. When asked if the staff was friendly, the consumers felt strong about Banana Republic having a friendly staff. The consumers felt that Banana Republic was stronger than its competitors in their survey responses. Overall, the consumers felt positive in their assessment about Banana Republic. Gap Inc. will not have to make too many changes to the way Banana Republic operates based on the consumer responses.

To gain a better understanding of the store, Gap Inc. administered the survey to 5 employees as well. While they are employees, Gap Inc. wanted to know and understand how the employees felt about the brand. All of the employees felt that Banana Republic had convenient parking and convenient hours. This they felt was one of Banana Republic's strengths. 3 employees felt that Banana Republic had extremely high prices, while 2 felt that the prices fell somewhat in the middle. All of the employees noted that Banana Republic had fast service and clean facilities. 4 employees felt that Banana Republic had a somewhat wide product selection marking 'X' in the third space on the line for product selection. The other employee marked an 'X' on the fifth line indicating that this person felt that Banana Republic has a narrower product selection, but not completely narrow; yet not wide either. All of the employees felt that the staff at Banana Republic was friendly, once again showing that as being one of the strengths of the company. When asked about competitors of Banana Republic, the employees all stated that Banana Republic was stronger than its competitors. 

Attitudes are identified with the Semantic differential. It is essentially a marketing communication and psychological tool that express customer satisfaction based on words, phrases and statements. In the Banana Republic semantic differential, both the consumers and employees evaluated the overall strengths and weaknesses of the store and it would seem as though Banana Republic's strengths lie in their friendly staff, high prices, convenient hours and parking. Where Banana Republic can stand to stay a cut above the competition is in their product selection. Both the consumers and employees offered that Banana Republic did not necessarily have a narrow product selection, but that it was not necessarily wide-ranging either.

References

Fortenberry, J. L. (2012). Nonprofit Marketing (1st ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning. 

Semantic differential. (n.d.). Retrieved March 7, 2013, from UC Davis, Department of Psychology website: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/sommerb/sommerdemo/scaling/semdiff.htm