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Where can I get my Culture Decoder ring?

By May 27, 2008January 21st, 2022No Comments

I first learned about Clotaire Rapaille back in 2004 in a fascinating Frontline episode entitled The Persuaders that discussed the way advertisers and some of the world’s largest companies’ are working to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think.

Watch the entire program by clicking on the link above, or your can view a snippet here:

A fair amount of the program was dedicated to Rapaille, a cultural anthropologist that got his start working with autistic children—and his big break with Nestle—where he helped them uncover the ‘code’ for coffee. Born in France, the author has lived in the U.S. for twenty-five years but conducts his research sessions at his 9th century French castle. Fascinating and a bit eccentric, Rapaille made for great television, but he is even more charismatic in person.

During his book tour for The Culture Code, the author presented to a packed American Marketing Association luncheon in Seattle. No notes. No Powerpoint. Just Rapaille and a captivated room full of people that hung on his every word. Every attendee bought a book including three Outsource Marketing team members. Full disclosure: I sat next to the author prior to his presentation.

The Culture Code breaks new ground. Rapaille’s research seeks the subliminal, “reptilian” feelings we all have below the surface that gives us a “new set of glasses” to understand the differences between many Western cultures and offers the “codes” on a host of topics, including:

• Health and Wellness
• Obesity
• Doctors
• Nurses
• Hospitals
• Youth
• Beauty
• Seduction
• Sex
• Home
• Dinner
• Food
• Work
• Quality
• Perfection
• Money
• Shopping
• Luxury
• Alcohol

The codes have obvious mass marketing appeal, and since most of Rapaille’s clients are major corporations it makes sense. True, most marketers are looking for ways to move closer to a one-to-one relationship with prospects and customers, but the codes provide useful customer and categorical insights most marketers have never considered before.

Rapaille has his detractors, but my only real gripe with the book is its Western European/U.S. focus. Economic giants that are reshaping the world’s economy in Asia and India aren’t discussed. I’m hopeful Rapaille will consider that in the next edition.

What do you think? Can a human’s irrational behavior be broken down into a single word?

Comment below to weigh in.


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