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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2014, Issue 199


Measuring the luxurious in advertisements: On the popularization of the luxury perfume market

Dimitri Mortelmans
Published Online: 2014-04-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0125


This article looks at the different cultural codes that create the luxury sign value. Research data were gathered from a sample of 1,372 magazine ads taken from six magazines, comprising twelve product categories. We deal with only three products from this sample. The analysis focuses on the construction of perfume ads. Our main hypothesis is that the image of perfume as a luxury product is lowering. Until well into the 1960s, perfumes were exclusive luxury products. Since the 1970s, however, the perfume industry has developed explosively. The article examines the effect of this boom on the construction of the perfume sign value within advertisements. A comparison is made with ads of exclusive watches on one hand and household appliances on the other hand. The results confirm the devaluation hypothesis, showing a few luxury codes combined with advertising codes regularly found in advertisements for mass consumption products.

Keywords: social semiotics; luxury; perfume; advertisements; content analysis

About the article

Dimitri Mortelmans

Dimitri Mortelmans (b. 1972) is a professor at the University of Antwerp 〈dimitri.mortelmans@ua.ac.be〉. His research interests are in sociology. His publications include ``Repartnering and (re)employment: Strategies to cope with the economic consequences of partnership dissolution'' (with M. Jansen & L. Snoeckx, 2009); and ``Content versus style: Acquiescence in student evaluations of teaching?'' (with P. Spooren & P. Thijssen, 2011).

Published Online: 2014-04-12

Published in Print: 2014-04-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2014, Issue 199, Pages 193–217, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0125.

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©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

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