Year Zero Ltd
Year Zero Ltd

Year Zero is a qualitative research agency founded in 2000.

We specialise in using Semiotics and Ethnography to generate insights not accessible through conventional research.

Putting brands in context

We believe that context is the key to understanding consumers.

Ethnography gets us closer to their daily lives.

Semiotics reveals the cultural trends that influence values and decisions.

We use these tools to deliver forward-looking, actionable research to the world's leading companies.

How we work

We bring together high level cultural analysis with years of experience observing consumers' daily lives


We often combine different approaches in one project.

For example, we’ll conduct ethnography to complement semiotic desk research or use traditional methods to test hypotheses and concepts.

We are dedicated to finding the best research package for every brief.

Vivid Reporting

We’re a visual company. We bring our reports to life with photography and video creating engaging documents that inspire thought and creativity.

Going Deeper to Get Results

We pride ourselves on the depth of our analysis. But we also understand that insights must be relevant to business challenges.

Our focus is on clear findings that drive real change.

"I've worked with Year Zero since 2001 on projects for both Inbev and Cadbury. They've consistently delivered inspiring work that drove change and innovation, combining clear understanding of cultural trends with a down to earth grasp of consumer reality. We found ourselves returning again and again to their reports when developing strategy, communications or NPD."

Phil Rumbol, Founding Partner, 101/London

Our research toolbox

Desk Research

  • Segment your
    competitive set
  • Break down brand DNA
  • Reveal contradictions
    and noise
  • Pinpoint relevant new trends
  • Analyse consumer lifestyle cues and retail spaces

Contextual Observation

  • See brands and behaviour
    in context
  • Get behind what consumers say and see what they
    really do
  • Understand receptivity and word of mouth
  • Get closer to reality

Traditional Qual
Testing & Validation

  • Feedback on new concepts
  • Projective work
  • Work with larger
    respondent base

Boutique service
Global reach

We're a small, flexible agency, offering a high quality client-focused approach.

When you work with us you work directly with research executives.

Our network of independent researchers allows us to undertake large projects across the globe but retain centralised control on the process

"Year Zero provided us with a great depth of insight
which clearly outlined opportunities and challenges for our brands
and helped move our innovation plans forward"

Caroline Young, Consumer Insights Manager, CPUK - Nestle

Case studies



Evolving the
Christmas Range


Cadbury wanted to assess their role in Christmas gifting and celebrations and generate insights to improve and evolve their product design and communications.


We delivered a semiotic segmentation of Christmas designs and claims in media and retail, highlighting new trends and looking at the codes that might threaten Cadbury.

We followed that up with inhome ethnographic interviews in the run up to Christmas, uncovering routines and rituals and documenting decorations and products.

We showed that Cadbury had a unique positioning in relation to the down-to-earth values of family Christmas but that many of its products lacked the creative flair of competitors. We recommended straightforward changes in design and communication which were immediately implemented and improved performance.



Fabric Care Barriers
in Germany


P&G wanted to better understand barriers to purchase, going beyond the familiar reasons expressed in focus groups. The new insights would have to be actionable, proposing new ways of connecting with consumers and better meeting their needs.


We conducted filmed, inhome ethnographic visits with a broad cross section of respondents.

We observed their laundry routines, their wardrobe choices and overall lifestyle and also ran in-depth projective exercises to reveal both the conscious and unexpressed barriers to purchase.

We produced a video debrief that brought to life our observations and recommendations with concrete examples from consumers’ lives. The work delivered fresh thinking and acted as the foundation for workshop sessions leading directly to the creation of new concepts and communications strategies.



Better Promotions
for Pubs and Bars


InBev wished to develop the point of sale and promotional material of their different brands so they fit with the values and design ethos of contemporary bars and pubs.


We documented bars and pubs across the UK creating a detailed photographic record of their interiors and clientele.

This material was the basis for a semiotic analysis that interpreted and segmented the different environments, revealing the cultural values that they expressed and showing how these values were communicated.

We created a comprehensive overview of drinking venues showing how different spaces connected to different InBev brands. Our work enabled InBev to create new strategies and designs, fine tuning their promotions so they resonated with their target audience.

Our clients

About the founders

David Panos & Simeon Tiller

Motivated by a desire to find new ways to do research we set up Year Zero after a period working in qualitative research and media.

Alongside Year Zero David has lectured on contemporary visual culture at institutions like Goldsmiths and the Royal College of Art.

Simeon indulges his interest in things vehicular with a consultancy at an automotive design research agency.


Contact us for more information

Unit 75a
Regents Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN