The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do
The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do

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Why are people around the world so very different? What makes us live, buy, even love as we do? The answers are in the codes.

In The Culture Code, internationally revered cultural anthropologist and marketing expert Clotaire Rapaille reveals for the first time the techniques he has used to improve profitability and practices for dozens of Fortune 100 companies. His groundbreaking revelations shed light not just on business but on the way every human being acts and lives around the world.

Rapaille’s breakthrough notion is that we acquire a silent system of codes as we grow up within our culture. These codes—the Culture Code—are what make us American, or German, or French, and they invisibly shape how we behave in our personal lives, even when we are completely unaware of our motives. What’s more, we can learn to crack the codes that guide our actions and achieve new understanding of why we do the things we do.

Rapaille has used the Culture Code to help Chrysler build the PT Cruiser—the most successful American car launch in recent memory. He has used it to help Procter & Gamble design its advertising campaign for Folger’s coffee – one of the longest lasting and most successful campaigns in the annals of advertising. He has used it to help companies as diverse as GE, AT&T, Boeing, Honda, Kellogg, and L’Oral improve their bottom line at home and overseas. And now, in The Culture Code, he uses it to reveal why Americans act distinctly like Americans, and what makes us different from the world around us.

In The Culture Code, Dr. Rapaille decodes two dozen of our most fundamental archetypes—ranging from sex to money to health to America itself—to give us “a new set of glasses” with which to view our actions and motivations. Why are we so often disillusioned by love? Why is fat a solution rather than a problem? Why do we reject the notion of perfection? Why is fast food in our lives to stay? The answers are in the Codes.

Understanding the Codes gives us unprecedented freedom over our lives. It lets us do business in dramatically new ways. And it finally explains why people around the world really are different, and reveals the hidden clues to understanding us all.

Customer Reviews:

  • First Impressions are Usually Lasting Impressions
    The world molds us into beings that are far different from our inner selves. Perceptions, norms, stereotypes and the like cause us to consciously change. However, even when the child we were doesn't recognize the adults we've become, we're still that child at heart. Dr. R knows this. He has a method for stripping us of our worldly armor and displaying who we really are. He presents many scenarios where he has consulted with business to tap into the inner child so their products can relate to those subconscious core values. A great read for anyone in any line of work. ...more info
  • A Required Reading for People in International Business
    Why do a lot of husbands in arab countries prefer their wives to be obese rather than skinny? Why are Americans fat? Why are divorce rates in Japan steady at 2% compared to a whopping 50% in America?

    It's all in the CODES.

    I've seen Clotaire Rapaille in a lot of documentaries and read him in books. It's great that he finally revealed his art and science himself.

    The book is invaluable in giving you a new set of glasses to look at the world. Whether you're in business, a traveler or perhaps just plain curious, the book is insightful and at the same time entertaining....more info
  • "must read" code
    It's a great insight into consumers (culture) which some great illustrations of Rapaille's successes and qualitative approaches. However, it is of less utility to the non-Rapaille practitioner.

    An interesting read none the less...more info
  • Stereotypes are real time savers
    This book was recommended to me before taking a job working for NATO. I'm an American that has traveled in the Far East and Europe a bit and I've heard all the generalizations about different cultures including my own and I have found them to be generally true. What this book did for me was explain some of the background of why people are the way they are. It also explains that some people, such as the author, are born into the wrong culture. So the typical American, German or Frenchman may not have the same traits expressed in the book. It does generalize but the author is pretty honest about the basis of his theories so you can decide for yourself if you agree. Besides this book is the result of years of marketing research. If a company is going pay millions of dollars to put an advertisement on television or print, they want to appeal to the general public, hence the generalization. The proof of his theories would be the results of the subsequent marketing campaign which he occasionally mentions. My only complaint about the book was that it seems that the author only wrote based on research that he was paid by others to do. I would have liked to see more written on each subject about cultures other then my own. The most useful chapter was the one about how other cultures perceive the US. In my job with NATO, I found it to be very accurate....more info
  • Started Strong but lost momentum
    Having marketed and sold in every region of the globe, I was naturally drawn to Clotaire Rapaille's "The Culture Code." Rapaille utlizes a one word "code word" which you could characterize an "emoticon descriptor" for a product or service, such as "HORSE" for the the Jeep Wrangler, or "DISAPPOINTMENT" for Love. He caught my interest up front with an overview of the process behind his code labeling, but as the book progressed, never provided a road map as to the analysis behind the process except the end results surrounding vanity areas of health, beauty, sex, home, money and other emotional areas. But nothing regarding hard business analysis. His premise is that we all look at the world differently due to our childhood driven, hard wired cultural experiences, causing stark differences between the emotional quotient of Europeans, Asians and Americans. At the end, the chapters were fairly repetitive recapping the first, and strongest in the book. ...more info
  • Very interesting and informative...
    I found this book to be very interesting since Rapaille reveals some of the major secrets of the marketing and advertising world. These secrects are really about the basic psychology of how we function; they are probably somewhat disturbing to many people but they are important to understand.

    Rapaille got his start developing a strategy for Nestle to sell coffee to the Japanese. His research and theories revealed that the true basis for "rational thought" is the tangled web of unconscious (sub-conscious?) emotional attachments to decisions. These may be exploited - for example the styling of the PT Cruiser was tweaked to ensure that it evoked the happy memories of the teenage years for people over 40 - the shape of cars from their youth.

    The book explains the theories and applications of culture code very clearly. You may learn a lot reading it. There are also applications to understand management issues as well as mergers and acquisitions....more info
  • a paradigm book
    Very generously the author has made known the power of his work that has been so influencial in successful marketing of many products. As someone working in the social milieu I find the insights equally important to explain many of the impasses to social change : not all culture is good, but here is a way to understand much more deeply what we are dealing with....more info
  • Who is Clotaire Rapaille & why does he dress like Mozart?
    The first question is easy to answer. Clotaire Rapaille is a Frenchman who claims that a candy bar shared by a GI during the Liberation was a key imprint leading him to ultimately adopt the US as home. He holds a Masters in Political Science and in Psychology and a Doctorate in Medical Anthropology from the Sorbonne. As chairman of an organization called "Archetype Discoveries Worldwide" he shows how you too can become an archetypologist and learn the process of decoding culture. While he has taught at a long list of universities, he is better known as an advertising guru to top American corporations whom he helps discover the culture code that unlocks the door to successful marketing.

    So why does he dress like Mozart? Perhaps because he uses a three movement orchestration that he calls "discovery" to penetrate to the heart of the social archetypes--to arrive at the code--the very deep "why" of human behavior, the trigger to an emotional response in the primitive brain that explains why people choose to do what they do and, especially of interest to his clientele, why they buy what they buy. The archetypal resonances of Mozart's The Golden Flute and the passion arousing sounds of Timotheus' lyre are what marketers and advertisers need to be "on code" or "off code" in ways that will essentially determine their success.

    When the author explains that the culture code for US eating habits is FUEL, while the French focus on pleasure, it goes a long way toward explaining why, after close to a decade in France, I am schizophrenic. Eating in a US restaurant, the check arrives the moment I have stopped. It is delivered by an attendant in that very instant when I have set down my desert or coffee spoon indicating that my "tank is full." In France the check doesn't come until I wonder to what dalliance my waiter might have discretely gone off, and then grudgingly bestir myself from the delights of table talk to return to the practicalities of life.

    Below are a few more of the US codes discussed in the book. While a number of other cultures come up in the discussion of the codes, I tease you with these few into finding the quite striking comparisons for yourself in its pages.

    US Cultural Code
    Love=False expectation
    Fat=Checking out

    Archetypes or Stereotypes?
    The codes are, of course, provocative, particularly to many USians in this case, because they correspond, not to how we rationalize our decisions,--what Rapaille calls our alibis--but how we are impelled toward them. Hence many of us are prone to shrug off if not aggressively attack any attempt at identifying or classifying us as "stereotyping." Why then are we at same time so attracted to simple models of classifying people such as MBTI, Belbin, EI, etc? For Rapaille I suspect that this seeming paradox would be resolved in the juxtaposition of the code word ADOLESCENCE that marks the US character as well as the US code for quality, which is, IT WORKS.

    Before closing the author recounts his engagements with US corporations in search for the US culture code held by other national markets as well as their own codes and what is needed to mix and match in promoting US products abroad.

    Out of the box
    My purpose in this as in my other reviews is to search the significance of thinking for our intercultural field, which is tending to become fossilized in some of its classical research, models and theories of culture. The best books about culture that I read every year are generally not written by people who call themselves interculturalists but by people who lead me outside my box. Rapaille applies a Jungian archetype analysis based on such widely disparate sources as on his work with autistic children and his observation of successful brujos--these are not places where most of us spend our time.

    In this respect, I found The Culture Code both affirming and tantalizing. It is affirming, because it is very much aligned with training in Jungian and Gestalt psychology that was a strong part of my education and because of my current work in the development of products in the Cultural Detective line that investigate core or key values of cultures as motives of behavior. His work also seems to confirm that the cultural stories we learn are not ingrained in us so much by their constant repetition but by their initial impact. The concept of Pr?gnanz generated in Gestalt psychology and Lakoff's understanding of semiotic imprinting support this and suggest that cultural codes as identified by Rapaille are more rooted in the physical and historical experience that interculturalists have tended to believe. Nature and Nurture may be more in cahoots with each other rather than the polarities we tend to make of them.

    The Culture Code is also tantalizing, because it leaves me hungry for missing detail in Rapaille's process that I as a professional am eager to lay my hands on. This being said, the book itself brushes past me, being brilliantly "on code" for the US market, i.e., IT WORKS!-witness its stand on several bestseller lists.

    My country, `tis of thee I sing...
    The Culture Code ends in a paean that addresses Rapaille's principles of discovery to AMERICA, that larger than life DREAM that the US has of itself--perhaps a code word in its own right. Like many immigrants before him, AMERICA is obviously the author's Promised Land. It is a land that ever looks to a MOSES to lead it and, when needed, regenerate its spirit of "never growing up" and "never giving up," above all never yielding to the crime of pessimism. Of course confrontation with the shadow, as Jung would put it, is locked in each of the culture codes for the USA as in those of all other lands, but on these shores, woe to him who turns that key.
    ...more info
  • Outstanding Analysis
    This book opened my eyes to concepts that I never knew existed. The contents of The Culture Code are essential to understanding why people do the things they do. Well-written, with real life stories that are engaging. By far the most important book that I have read in years. I have recommended it to all of my friends. ...more info
  • A Glimpse at the Puppet Master
    The author gives us a look at the cultural archetypes that drive our thoughts and actions and are used by advertisers and politicians to manipulate us like puppets, just below the conscious level. Rapaille is himself a consultant to these puppet masters. Born in France and now a US citizen, Rapaille is able to draw on personal experience in his study of differing culture codes.

    Of course generalisations are necessary here and Rapaille doesn't claim that one code fits all in a population. It isn't neccesaary. The idea is to identify the main idea which defines the culture and use that to appeal to the large percentage of the people.

    One weakness I found is Rapaille's expalnation of the origins, historical usually, for the codes. The last chapter especially sounds like a poitically correct feel-good commercial for America. Yes, Americans were rebels, tamed the wilderness, immigrated to the new world, etc. But the cultural values of the early Americans have nearly dissapeared, not to mention the people themsleves who are in decline. Yes we rebounded from 9-11, but other people in other cultures experienced much worse and rebound from it faster. What Rapaille leaves out is the role of the media in actually creating the codes in the first place. That would be an equally interesting book....more info
  • The human condition by culture....
    We are products of our environment, rearing and experiences. This book may have value from a marketing stand-point. It is not why I read it.

    Culture Code is insightful as to the behavior of people based on their life experiences. Our values as a society are reflected in our actions and our purchases. We do what is accepted by the majority and reject many things that are unpopular.

    When a culture embraces a behavior we accept it as we grow within that culture. Sometimes it makes sense, other times, it does not.

    If you are interested in why things are accepted as relevant for no seemingly good reason, read this title....more info
  • Good marketing and general information, opens mind.
    The information and analysis offered by the author are very interesting, it changes the way questions and investigation are offered so that more interesting answers can be obtained....more info
  • easy, enjoyable and interesting read
    This is an easy, enjoyable and interesting read. The Culture Code does a good job picking out the trees from the forest in the sense that many of the insights is has are intuitive or obvious once someone has pointed them out to us. A fun book to read if you are a marketer or sociologist....more info
  • Disappointing generalities
    A colleague thought I would enjoy this book, and I understand why. Cultural relativism is usually intersting. It is not uncommon for pop business books to feel like overextended magazine articles...that's not all bad. But I must say, this book seems to me to be an overextended chart of cultural differences...and the author didn't even provide a chart; instead he provides meandering prose. I realize I'm in the minority in terms of reviews, but this book is at best mediocre. It is superficial and not informative. But please note: I have only read 100 pages of this 200 page tome. I didn't want to waste anymore time so I recycled the book....more info
  • Very interesting read
    If you are looking to implement his process yourself, this book is deliberately a little vague. Some of his insights are very interesting, however - about how food and sex and love are coded differently in different cultures.

    And he's spot-on describing American cheese zipped up in its body bags......more info
  • Great Information
    I really enjoyed reading his book; it let me understand even some of my aptitudes with life....more info
  • If other cultures interest you
    You'll find this book very interesting if you enjoy reading about other cultures. It's easy reading and you'll find out how other cultures live and how they buy. For instance, Americans buy automobiles according to how the vehicle makes them feel and Germans buy automobiles with engineering in mind.....Great for conversation....more info
  • Why do you like some products?
    This book is an interesting read that weaves information of what has been intertwined from childhood and adulthood experiences and use of products to how we use that prism to view the products in the marketplace. These imprints help us to determine if we will be attracted to a new or existing product along with the feelings associated with the product. Much of the imprinting has much to do with where you live and things that have happened in your life, or your culture. This book explains in some instances why you would pick or choose one product over another or how some products are off target for the suspected buyers especially if you are new to an area or country.

    If you have ever wondered why you have a product that people have not bought you may have not done enough research for the product, or you just marketed tot he wrong group of people. Overall a great read. I had to read this book in sections and could not read it all at once. ...more info
  • insights from from a French-American
    The author, Clotaire Rapaille, has fascinating insights into what makes groups think and act the way they do. His background in psychology mixes very well with his French origins and American inclinations. The book covers various code-words for products and people around the world. He loves America but has us pegged when he labels us, "adolescent"....more info
  • Delivers the goods
    Clotaire Rapaille delivers the goods in this outstanding exeplanation of what makes people tick. In my 20 years working in marketing and branding, I've spent more time studying psychology, sociology, anthropology, and politics than much of the standard marketing fare.

    At the core, marketing is about understanding the messy world of human interaction - what drives and moves us, what frightens and stops us.

    This book - and Dr. Rapaille's work - reveal the power in undesrtanding these principles. In my own work, this book has opened intellectual doors through which I continue to explore how to better understand the audiences we address in growing our business....more info
  • Excellent insights and connections between culture and marketing
    One of the best books on culture and marketing. Rapaille is precise and right on the spot in his description of people's inner motivation and cultural impressions.

    Best of all, unlike some marketing books that go on and on, this book is very easy to read. You'll have plenty of WOW moments when you read this book!...more info
  • culturally exposed
    Using base methodology of "image conceptualization, recognition, evaluation" as his technique to evaluate and understand cultural phenomena Rapaille has fairly accurately observed and assessed what drives the American culture in its life style choices and buying habits. As one who lived as an expatriate, I can agree that is often easier for an "outsider" to more truthfully assess a culture than one of its own. Rapaille has understood and exposed a lot of what it means to be American, for better or worse....more info
  • Want a fresh look around?
    It's a book that makes you see everything in a different light. Curious? Just read it....more info
  • Very inspiring book
    This book really helps to understand the most important culture codes for USA. It is very interesting for everybody, it is a must for each marketeers and communitations manager....more info
  • Depressingly Poor Subsitute for Legimiate Scientic Inquiry
    Though the Culture Code truly is a valuable tool, and Rapaille presents us with several important insights, this book is ultimately a failure. Rapaille's attempts to extrapolate on his "Culture Code" to draw broader conclusions about human behavior become extreme generalizations. In a few careless sentences Rapaille manages astounding cognative acrobatics that leave his processes, and thus his conclusions, utterly unscientific and unreliable. Not a single citation (in all his talk of the "reptilian brain" never does he cite a single scholar of evolutionary psychology), laughably weak premises (the United States of America is in it's "adolescent stage" because of the relative age of the country? ok there might be SOME value in that framework, but Rapaille takes it beyond beyond....its just silly), and a predictably limited scope of research (USA, England, France, tiny bits about Germany, Italy and Japan.......since we are generalizing about the behavior of all human societies here, maybe devote a little time to the other five sixths of the planet?), render The Culture Code basically a waste of time. Skim through it for the bolded words (the "Codes"), read the following paragraph, and you have basically derived all worthwhile information from this book that couldn't be gleaned from another well researched, academically responsible, insightful and historically accurate souce....more info
  • Suckered by the Intro.
    I purchased this book after reading the introduction about the circular headlights were used on the jeep to resemble a horse/deer which connected with people more thus more sales. I thought that was interesting so I bought the book and was surprised by many of the claims he makes. He pretty much says overweight people are compensating for issues in their lives, and ignores various other factors. He never considers it may be a legitimate medical reason for some people. Clotaire knowledge on evolutionary psychology/DNA is mild but he comments like he knows what he is talking about (there are scientific reasons why diets do not work not your opinion). He also comments on isolationism and how it wouldn't work for America's foreign policy. Again he shows his lack of knowledge in an area yet comments on it (our country started isolationist). Clotaire has a few interesting ideas (love, sex, early childhood impressions) but will say something so fallacious that it becomes a turn off. I wish I did not the buy book, and I hope people do not take him too seriously....more info
  • A New Way at Seeing How People See Us
    The first time that I got envolved with cross-cultural marketing was with the Chevrolet Nova. Nova is, of course, an exploding star. A massive explosion with the underlying understand that this car was hot. It was inexpensive so should have done very well in Mexico and South America. It took a while to understand that 'no va' in Spanish means 'no go.' Not nearly so good a name for an automobile. And that was only a language problem.

    In this book, the author, who was trained as a child psychiatrist is looking at the base emotions of consumers around the world. He explains a lot about the different ways different cultures view products, people (such as how do the French view Americans, or the American President).

    It is kind of a rambling book, that left be both fascinated with the incidents he describes and with a desire for more. For instance he talks about the vision people have of the Jeep. Americans see it as a HORSE, as in riding off into the unknown back country. The French and the Germans view the Jeep as a LIBERATOR from the Nazi's. Obviously this calls for a different marketing approach in different countries. But how do the Japanese, Mexicans, Chinese, et al view the Jeep. And beyond the Jeep, how do they view other things.

    Still, I guess that he simply hasn't had enough time to research everything. This is a fairly small book and a fast read. It opens a series of doors that force you to think in different ways....more info
  • Truly new - not just insight - TYPE of insight
    It's an amazing and really fresh approach to understanding our deepest feelings about many things - the role of the "reptilian" brain. How do we - not "see" - but deeply "relate" to food, sex, money...and Presidents? And regarding Presidents, that chapter is one of the most eye-opening and immediately "right". It's at the end of the book and I'm not going to give it away, but it confirmed my feeling that the Democrats will be in big trouble if Hillary Clinton gets the 2008 nomination, and explains the extraordinary impact of Barack Obama. The Code for President begins with "M" . . .

    Dr. Allaire deserves applause for developing his unusual session technique and for his perception in bringing out the hidden "Code" for every topic. Yes, there are perhaps a few over-simplifications here and there, and his own personal affinity with everything American leads him to gloss over some underlying strands that I think play a significant role - for instance, what about the Native Americans? Would the Code for them be GUILT? But that's a guess based perhaps too much on "the cortex" which is usually a false front...the real code would only emerge after the three-level sessions with respondents.

    I agree with the reviewer who took issue with the Publisher's Weekly hatchet job. Hey, PW, are you smarter than all the top business executives who have commissioned Dr. Rapaille and found that his analysis WORKS?

    A fascinating read with many moments of "Aha! of course!"...more info
  • fascinating
    Although the writer mainly does his (extremely highly paid) work for marketing and advertising purposes, the book gives an unusually deep insight into the underlying meanings of certain concepts for various cultures.

    Based on the learning of the particular culture as constructed in early childhood, he defines (for instance) what the word "love" means to several different cultures - and backs up his claims. He says that to the Americans (an adolescent culture) "love" really means "false expectation"; that in France "love" and pleasure are intertwined; the Italians expect love to contain strong dimensions of pleasure, beauty and (above all) fun (and that for them true love is maternal love); and for the Japanese (an older culture) love is a "temporary disease".

    No, it's not terribly well written, but most of what he says resonates as true (I have lived for more than a decade each in Western Europe, US and Japan). He provides valuable insights and I'd love to read more on this subject by this author.
    ...more info
  • Basic Psychological Triggers

    Rapaille has discovered that people identify themselves with their objects. That is the basis for his marketing research. When we buy something we are not just buying a utilitarian object such as a car, a CD, clothing, etc - we are buying a 'self.'

    Marketing any more speaks very little about the item advertized - sometimes its hard from the contents of a commercial to even figure out what the product is. Marketing today sells lifestyle, self-esteem, hope, envy, etc. Marketing is about emotion, and Rapaille's ultimate marketing research occurs with people lying on the floor with pillows and blankets, like pre-schoolers having their quiet time. During this 'emotional regression' Rapaille gets his most important feedback - the subconscious emotional triggers and memories that we associate with cars, coffee, even toilet paper.

    One of the more startling Codes, to me, is the sex and beauty Codes. Rapaille makes a convincing point that sex in our culture evokes deep emotional triggers related to violence. Paired with this is the Code for beauty, which is 'Man's Salvation.' This chapter brings to the surface primal tensions between the animal and the spiritual/civilized sides of our psyches and our culture.

    I consider this short book as recommended reading for anyone interested in why we really do and think the way we do, and for those of us who have never thought about how much our tastes and opinions are the result of our childhood conditioning.
    ...more info
  • A look at our cuture
    In The Culture Code the author, Clotaire Rapaille, compares and contrasts the culture code of products and habits of Americans with those of people in other countries, most often France, his native country. He asserts that what we say we want isn't what we really want and what we want is determined by previous experience or 'imprinting'--and that is different from culture to culture, often determined by the culture we grow up in.

    Rapaille introduces us to the culture code with the example of cars. What we say we want is fuel economy and safety. But what we really want is image and a feeling of freedom, feelings we associate with cars from our 'imprinting.'

    He continues to unlock the 'code' for many of our most closely held behaviors from work and money to the American Presidency. And, he describes how cultures and corporations have created their own codes in order to promote ideas, concepts and market merchandise.

    The Culture Code isn't a new concept, but it is an interesting one that you might want to be fully aware of the next time you go to make a big-ticket purchase, or formulate your stance on a political issue or cultural icon.

    Armchair Interviews says: Another way to look at our cultural norms and expectations. ...more info
  • Hit and miss, but some of the hits are very very good.
    Not an academic heavyweight, but with some very interesting qualitative insights. This book uses in depth interviews to come up with metaphors that describe the way Americans (and, in a few cases, people in a few European countries) really think about thins like cars, freedom, alcohol, and seduction. Sometimes Rapaille really puts his finger on the pulse of things and makes you look at them in new ways, other times he heaves up air balls. But it's a pretty quick read, and certainly a provocative one. It makes you think, if nothing else....more info
  • Some gems
    I found this book fascinating (couldn't put it down) but also lightweight and quick to read. You get the sense that each of the Codes was originally presented in a broader way to his corporate clients, with more context, probably some alternative explanations, typical alibis and rationalizations, ambiguities.

    The two interesting aspects were the fresh overview of American culture and tidbits about European cultures (France, Germany, Italy). The book ties a number of ideas and concepts I'd only half-considered, like the code for quality being IT WORKS (e.g., good-enough versus near-perfect or long-lasting). While the author states that the results are non-regional, in this case further discussion of whether the concept persists across economic classes and regions (the coasts versus middle America) would have filled out the explanations.

    The book is worth reading through once. Looking over a list of the keywords and codes, there's minimal reason to reread it. The sections on love, seduction, sex, alcohol, and maybe youth and beauty, are the most insightful; the rest seem straightforward. ...more info
  • Once in a great while...
    ... someone will introduce you to positions or ideas that on some level you already know, but in a way that makes you say wow. Now I get it. This is one of those books. Filled with insights that are both revolutionary and obvious, it is a book that will make you re-think the way you talk with your product developers, frontline staff and creative department....more info
  • Rapaille's book = SHILL
    I went into this book expecting a well-researched comparison of different cultures and how those differences affect how products are perceived and marketed. In the end, I was short-changed. The "research" is largely absent and is presented as anecdotal impressions from survey participants that don't hold consistent themes. Unfortunately, Rapaille chooses to make sweeping generalizations about these results, always trying to distill the entire spectrum of participant responses into single catch phrases. But if he couldn't do that, he wouldn't have a book, would he?

    Further, he overemphasizes the American point of view far too much, and provides too little on other non-American cultures.

    Save your money and check it out from the library if you're remotely interested....more info
  • Very welcome new aproach
    This book gives us a new approach to understand the "rules" of marketing. Very interesting and a very nice reading. At least, it's a very questionable way to view marketing as it is today....more info
  • Clueless
    A Frenchman trying to psycho-analize and understand the American culture. While he is successfull in some extent, he is completely clueless most of the times.
    One clear conclusion is that Mr. Rapaille has some fixed ideas imposed by his "Cultural Code" impeding him to deeply understand other cultures.
    In my opinion, this book is very shallow appreciation of the cultural differences that goes nowhere.

    ...more info
  • Great Book Worth Reading
    I enjoyed this book. It does really bring to light the differances in cultures. Nestle trying to get the Japanese consumer to give up tea for coffee?? ...more info
  • It's a bigger world than this...
    I found this book to be not such a great read. Considering the author's background (on retainer with 50% of the fortune 100) I would have thought the book might have been a little more adventurous and a little more insightful. Considering the title and sub title I would have thought the book might have been a bit more revealing of a few more and diverse cultures. The author is French become American so the book is about American and French cultural idiosyncrasies primarily, with a rare mention of the Japanese or Germans.

    So, it seems, the many years the author has enjoyed working with the creative minds of the top companies in the US, if not the world, boils down to a handful of barely revealing observations about US consumers.

    The Codes (or Key Words) are perhaps a useful system for identifying or more likely relating a cultural concept to top corporate CEOs, the author has found much success in doing so, but alas, no surprises.

    The book in a nutshell is an egocentric much ado about the author's genius in devising his Code system. So, with no big or wonderful revelations, I was a disappointed in this book.
    ...more info
  • Very Disappointing
    Seeing the number of strong reviews, I bought this book expecting deep insight into how consumers across cultures differ in how they make buying decisions (as indicated by the subtitle). At the very least, I was hoping for a thought-provoking framework for thinking about this stuff.

    Instead, I got surface-level assertions primarily targeted at the American psyche and seemingly supported only by casual observation and a few focus groups. Indeed, the lack of real scientific rigor and foundational theory supporting his words make it pretty easy to blow holes in every one of Rapaille's arguments (especially the ideas of the Reptilian Brain and America's Cultural Adolescence) and make the book frustrating to read. Like some other reviewers, I also nearly put it down after 100 pages.

    On the other hand, the Codes that he's defined for Americans' views of things like food, quality, health, and money are reasonable enough. So to some foreign audiences and perhaps also to Americans and Marketers without previous exposure to cultural anthropology, I can understand how some of his ideas may seem profound.

    If you don't fit into either of those categories, don't bother buying this book.
    ...more info


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