Clotaire Rapaille, The Culture Code

Everyone knows that cultures are different, but how exactly? Clotaire Rapaille, creator of the highly successful Chrysler PT Cruiser, thinks he has found the answer in our reptilian brains as described in ‘The Culture Code’. His theory? Marketing research might reveal insight into what people think and feel, but not into what they really want. He uses stories and their associations to uncover the psychological metaphors that govern how we perceive our culture. These run deeper than linguistic ones and rarely change, even over generations.

My favorite example? For Rapaille, the American Code for food is ‘fuel’. Small portions, spread over several courses, is very off-Code (why not put all those portions on one plate? why not put all that food in one buffet?); for the French, on the other hand, food is ‘deferred pleasure’, best enjoyed over time (an “all-you-can-eat buffet” causes the French to shake their heads).

For marketers, and people fascinated by what makes a culture tick, this is a must-read.