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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 groundbr 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’Oréal 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.


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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 groundbr 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’Oréal 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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Saellys

    Largely absurd and often borderline evil, this is the tale of one incredibly smart man stealing our memories in order to sell us things we don't need. In one passage, Rapaille declares that since the moon reflects the light of the sun, and the French word for moon is feminine while the word for sun is masculine, the French consider men to be shining and brilliant and women a mere reflection of that. Nevermind that the French language was invented before knowledge of the moon's reflective propert Largely absurd and often borderline evil, this is the tale of one incredibly smart man stealing our memories in order to sell us things we don't need. In one passage, Rapaille declares that since the moon reflects the light of the sun, and the French word for moon is feminine while the word for sun is masculine, the French consider men to be shining and brilliant and women a mere reflection of that. Nevermind that the French language was invented before knowledge of the moon's reflective properties was widespread, or that feminine and masculine words are almost completely arbitrary (please, Dr. Rapaille, analyze the reasoning behind doors being feminine!). It's arrogant, it's baseless, it's marketed as psychological nonfiction when it's really a load of crap. I doubt I'll even bother finishing it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ala

    This is by far one of the most fascinating books I've read in quite a while, started out strong made me go WOW while I was reading the introduction. Actually I've already read it last year but I didn't finish it. So I decided that I would start reading it all over again this year and yeah I did. FEELING ACCOMPLISHED :D. Anyway. First off, the most parts was about American culture so I don't know I found it weird and funny in some points I mean some of his codes doesn't make sense to me and the r This is by far one of the most fascinating books I've read in quite a while, started out strong made me go WOW while I was reading the introduction. Actually I've already read it last year but I didn't finish it. So I decided that I would start reading it all over again this year and yeah I did. FEELING ACCOMPLISHED :D. Anyway. First off, the most parts was about American culture so I don't know I found it weird and funny in some points I mean some of his codes doesn't make sense to me and the rest tbh perfectly does. he says every word has a code like love or coffee and then he gives you the code word and you can take it or leave it. He sites great examples from other cultures and comparisons after reading it, I still feel he made many good points on how humans deal with things. This book was full of information of how people think and why they do things, specifically buy things that they buy. clotaire is a semotician so everything is broken down through language. And this was realy interesting. I found it fast read and full of interesting information about culture codes that have been discovered by Rapaille over time. It's a book about marketing / branding, but it is also a book that is about better understanding human behavior. He got my attention in chapter 3 when he mentioned the code for beauty and fat. He said the code for beauty in America is man’s salvation, from Rapaille’s research, American women always tie beauty to men but In Arab nations, society sees a woman’s appearance as a reflection of her man’s success "like walking billboards for men" Women should be obese to show that their men feed them. And In Norway beauty is reflection of connection with nature no makeup/hair, slim and athletic. While many of Rapaille's insights seem spot on, a few seem to be a bit of a stretch. Rapaille suggests being overweight isn't a problem, but a solution. He says the American code for fat is "checking out" This means people get fat, so they can withdraw from society. That seems a bit like asking for the cultural code for gravity. It doesn't necessarily have a cultural explanation. It really seems more an issue of food tasting good and calories in and calories out at the waist. Rapaille argues each product makes a unique imprint on members of any given culture. This imprint can be described in only a few words. For example, Rapaille says the American code for cars is "Identity" while the German code for cars is "Engineering" here's what he say "The American code for Jeep is "Horse" a go anywhere vehicle. Based on this, Rapaille suggested replacing square headlights with round ones, because horses have round eyes. Luxury interiors weren't part of the code. The Jeep was then successfully marketed as a "horse" in America. But in France and Germany, Jeeps were seen differently. People there associate them with the WWII liberation of Europe. Chrysler marketed Jeeps in Europe as symbols of freedom. #TheCultureCode is a book that represents an important contribution to understanding how cultures work their ways on people. The book should be seen an attempt to answer the questions raised by Ruth Benedict’s quotation that begins the book. She asked what is was that makes Japan a nation of Japanese the United States a nation of Americans France a nation of Frenchmen and Russia a nation of Russians!! Rapaille’s answer is that it is the codes that shape each of the cultures and the individuals who grow up in each culture and he offers some intriguing and suggestive insights into how people arrive at their national cultural identities. Actually my fingers get crampy and tired from typing all day (laugh) I would like to transfer every single word of this book but unfortunately I can't (sad) I know this review doesn't make a lot of sense until you've read the book SO I'm just gonna say DO IT! #50booksyoumustreadbeforedie

  3. 5 out of 5

    Uwe Hook

    This is one of the more fascinating books I've read in quite a while. The author claims that subconscious links created socially" and nationally dictate the meanings of various things. For example, French people form an early Association with alcohol which links drinking with a social family atmosphere, because French children are often given a small amount of wine to drink by their parents at an early age. Americans on the other hand, are not allowed to drink until age 21, and therefore the ass This is one of the more fascinating books I've read in quite a while. The author claims that subconscious links created socially" and nationally dictate the meanings of various things. For example, French people form an early Association with alcohol which links drinking with a social family atmosphere, because French children are often given a small amount of wine to drink by their parents at an early age. Americans on the other hand, are not allowed to drink until age 21, and therefore the association that they create is often one of danger and recklessness, because they learn to drink at a much later age and in an underground fashion. For the rest of their lives, they think of alcohol as dangerous, risky, and forbidden. The French view is social and familial. The book is full of examples such as this. For example, Americans link or form code for automobiles as being about freedom, whereas the Germans have a code for automobile which is engineering. This is why for example, American and German auto executives and marketing people cannot see eye to eye. I found new insights on almost every page of this book. The book is actually quite profound. Many authors try to create the type of insights contained in this book, but they do not have the insight or the knowledge to do so. This book will be of interest to students of anthropology, psychology, international affairs, and marketing of course.

  4. 5 out of 5

    sampath krishna

    The Culture Code started out as a very promising read with a very interesting concept. However, it did not build on the good start. It purports to enlighten why people around the world live and buy as they do. Sadly, it focuses only on why Americans live and buy as they do, while using Europe (read France) mainly for comparison. As a non-american, I found this focus on America rather limiting and dissatisfying. I would have expected some more case studies from other countries from different cont The Culture Code started out as a very promising read with a very interesting concept. However, it did not build on the good start. It purports to enlighten why people around the world live and buy as they do. Sadly, it focuses only on why Americans live and buy as they do, while using Europe (read France) mainly for comparison. As a non-american, I found this focus on America rather limiting and dissatisfying. I would have expected some more case studies from other countries from different continents. Clotaire Rapaille, originally a Frenchman, glorifies America to no end and bashes Europe (read France again). I found this rather amusing. The concept of cultures having Codes, and using them for business, is really interesting and the book has certainly added to my perspective. This concept is not, however, new. We all know that every culture has different views and opinions for same products, acts, situations etc. What the author has done is provide the businesses, corporations a proper way of understanding this and market their products accordingly. This is not a global book in any sense. For the Americans by an American.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Abdullah Almuslem

    The author defines The Culture Code as: the unconscious meaning we apply to any given thing—a car, a type of food, a relationship, even a country—via the culture in which we are raised. The author tries to decode the codes of different cultures in order to help companies to market their product aligning their markitng strategy with their codes. He hold what he calls discovery sessions where he question number of people in any particular culture and from their answer he extracts the culture code. The author defines The Culture Code as: the unconscious meaning we apply to any given thing—a car, a type of food, a relationship, even a country—via the culture in which we are raised. The author tries to decode the codes of different cultures in order to help companies to market their product aligning their markitng strategy with their codes. He hold what he calls discovery sessions where he question number of people in any particular culture and from their answer he extracts the culture code. It is an OK book and the reader may find it useful.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vinod Peris

    I have recently read a couple of books that attempt to explain macro phenomenon by looking through the lens of the culture of its people. "Boomerang" by Michael Lewis explains the financial crisis that is unfolding in many European countries and ties it to the cultural traits of their inhabitants. Rapaille on the other hand has written an entire book on interpreting the code for American culture and he brings this out by contrasting it with the culture of other countries, most notably France, wh I have recently read a couple of books that attempt to explain macro phenomenon by looking through the lens of the culture of its people. "Boomerang" by Michael Lewis explains the financial crisis that is unfolding in many European countries and ties it to the cultural traits of their inhabitants. Rapaille on the other hand has written an entire book on interpreting the code for American culture and he brings this out by contrasting it with the culture of other countries, most notably France, where he was born. Way back when Isaac Asimov ruled the Science Fiction world, he introduced the concept of "psychohistory" - the idea that you cannot predict what an individual will do, but with a sufficiently large population, you can apply a probabilistic framework to predict the general flow of future events. When Rapaille describes the peculiarities of Americans, French or Italians, it is important to view it as a description of a large population and not a specific individual in that country. When viewed with that lens, the book offers great insight into cultural norms and how they can be tapped in developing and marketing a successful product. Rapaille's writing style is lucid and is a pleasure to read. His opinionated observations are incisive and I found myself reading several parts multiple times to fully appreciate his view. There are many memorable quotes and passages in the book like "you never get a second chance to have a first experience." This seems cliched, but when you read it again you realize he is talking about "experience" and not "impression". While I did not find myself agreeing with all of Rapaille's codes, the explanations of seduction in different cultures was spot on and hilarious. Another insightful chapter was the differing notions of quality in various cultures. For example quality in US can be summed up as "IT WORKS" and this is quite a far cry from the notion of quality in Japan which is perfection! Many reviewers that were critical of the book, seemed to have a hard time accepting all that Rapaille had to say without any real scientific evidence. While it is true that most of what is written here can be dismissed as one man's opinion, it will certainly get you thinking and more observant of cultural traits. I found myself in agreement with a majority of the observations and was quite amused at the way Rapaille presented them. There is one aspect of the book that I found hard to swallow. The notion of distilling these observations down to a single code word seems a bit contrived. Rapaille goes the extra mile in finding all kinds of circumstantial proof that resonates with the code word to justify it. This is probably the weakest part of his thesis. However, if you take that with a grain of salt and view it as a way to anchor a theme and provide direction to a marketing campaign, the code words might serve a purpose. Overall, I highly recommend this to folks who are in the business of building and selling products in the global marketplace.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gayle

    This intriguing book by Clotaire Rapaille posits an interesting premise; that very often we prefer or purchase things for reasons not apparent to our rational minds. OK, actually we all kind of know that, but his analysis and findings are revealing. His background as a psychoanalyst in Paris working with autistic children turned out to be a goldmine when he developed a clientele of Fortune 500 companies. His skills were ideal for getting past the answers from the conscious mind ("alibis", which This intriguing book by Clotaire Rapaille posits an interesting premise; that very often we prefer or purchase things for reasons not apparent to our rational minds. OK, actually we all kind of know that, but his analysis and findings are revealing. His background as a psychoanalyst in Paris working with autistic children turned out to be a goldmine when he developed a clientele of Fortune 500 companies. His skills were ideal for getting past the answers from the conscious mind ("alibis", which also matter) so often garnered in market research, and delving into what he calls "the reptilian mind," where the earliest experiences are recorded, as well as the emotions attached to them. Rapaille considers these emotions to be of prime importance, because the emotions determine our preferences, even for such mundane items as cars and coffee. Rapaille explains that these imprints are not only individual, but also cultural, and these cultural imprints have codes that bring the emotions associated with these imprints to the fore. If you tap into the code, you can use it to sell a product. Naturally, all this is presented with compelling evidence. If these ideas intrigue you, consider reading The Culture Code.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Patrick

    Not great. This "ingenious way to understand" people is one guy's musings, as produced by focus groups he's done for his marketing consulting business. Don't get me wrong, it's very interesting. But it's not social science. There's no indication any of his "findings" would be verified by a repeated study. The only thing I agree with is that you can't find out what people think about something or want from something by asking them. Author's answer: Just keep asking and get them to talk about it f Not great. This "ingenious way to understand" people is one guy's musings, as produced by focus groups he's done for his marketing consulting business. Don't get me wrong, it's very interesting. But it's not social science. There's no indication any of his "findings" would be verified by a repeated study. The only thing I agree with is that you can't find out what people think about something or want from something by asking them. Author's answer: Just keep asking and get them to talk about it for three hours. My answer: You have to observe behavior. The book presents an interesting way to think about what people think, but it's a little hard to take seriously.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Lost my review! So annoying. Back later.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bastard Travel

    Jung is doing kickflips in his grave right now. My dude Rapaille rolls out the premise that we have strong associations that we build in childhood (what a novel concept), and these help us decide what things we'll buy. That would be fine, and if he hoarded this knowledge he could use it to make a trillion dollars and wind up on retainer for, say, half of existing Top 500 companies. (He is already, that's the joke) Instead, he publishes this book and lets us use his discoveries as a lens through w Jung is doing kickflips in his grave right now. My dude Rapaille rolls out the premise that we have strong associations that we build in childhood (what a novel concept), and these help us decide what things we'll buy. That would be fine, and if he hoarded this knowledge he could use it to make a trillion dollars and wind up on retainer for, say, half of existing Top 500 companies. (He is already, that's the joke) Instead, he publishes this book and lets us use his discoveries as a lens through which to view ourselves and the world around us. Every chapter, every code, every connection he discovered was an absolute stroke of genius. His methods were a little shaky, but ultimately he was just trying to uncover larger patterns of symbolic thought, both Jungian archetypes and the collective unconscious, both no longer relegated to the realm of self-important untestable prescriptivism but larger than life and in living color, shrieking from each culture's undercurrents, desperate to be recognized but just obscured enough to make it difficult. This is one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time. Now, admittedly, it won't stand up to pure scientific scrutiny. If a council of pedants really wanted to, they could claim that this is all guesswork and conjecture, and they would be right. Thing is, whether or not it is replicable in a lab, the dude has used it to make a fortune for himself and hundreds of huge companies. In light of this, I'm gonna say he doesn't need to shoulder the burden of proof any further. But more important than money or the dry, conceptual intelligence is the insight and wisdom that can come from these observations. It's easier to understand the American people when you know their secret categories. It's a glance at the inner clockwork. We are really troubled by sex; this isn't a guess, this is a fact. We do tend to look at love as disappointment waiting to happen. Health is movement; when you stop, you're dead. Food is our fuel to ensure that doesn't happen. Beauty is our hope for redemption, although we can't explain how (thanks, romanticism). We want a messianic president -- it doesn't matter what kind, so long as he causes us to have a stronger emotional response than the other guy. Now, obviously, these aren't universal values held across all Americans, but it's cultural context by which you can get a better understanding of our country 'tis of thee and its inhabitants. It's seeing the color of the backdrop isolated, and extrapolating about the different shades in the rest of the painting. This is bound to be controversial book, but I think it's a masterpiece.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This is a super cool book!! Perhaps the writing isn't amazing, but the CONCEPT is fascinating. And it's not very long. And it is interesting to read. I will be thinking about some of the stuff for the rest of my life. Especially interesting for anyone interested in marketing or advertising. But really interesting just to analyze your own motives and throught processes as well. I want to own this one just to remember the codes - or maybe I'll just write them all down before I take it back to the l This is a super cool book!! Perhaps the writing isn't amazing, but the CONCEPT is fascinating. And it's not very long. And it is interesting to read. I will be thinking about some of the stuff for the rest of my life. Especially interesting for anyone interested in marketing or advertising. But really interesting just to analyze your own motives and throught processes as well. I want to own this one just to remember the codes - or maybe I'll just write them all down before I take it back to the library. The idea of America as an adolescent culture makes so many things make sense. And the stuff about presidents and the government was particularly interesting to consider during this election time. But the thing that hit me the most was the culture code for obesity - CHECKING OUT and food - FUEL. I know this review doesn't make a lot of sense until you've read the book, so I'm just gonna say, DO IT!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nam Pham

    There are two key concepts: code and alibi. I'm not sure if these are all new or just different names to similar concepts (say... relevancy? truth? reason-to-believe? insert more advertising terminologies here). But, it would be much more interesting if there are more information on how he conducted his focus groups. We probably understand the destination but getting there is an entirely different subject matter. Also that analysis on the code of American president is hauntingly true.. There are two key concepts: code and alibi. I'm not sure if these are all new or just different names to similar concepts (say... relevancy? truth? reason-to-believe? insert more advertising terminologies here). But, it would be much more interesting if there are more information on how he conducted his focus groups. We probably understand the destination but getting there is an entirely different subject matter. Also that analysis on the code of American president is hauntingly true..

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    This book is brilliantly evil. The author, in real life, found ways to sell chocolate to the kids in Japan when kids didn't even like chocolate. He seeks to reveal the code of what different culture really think about when they are presented with an idea. He covers presidents, sex, cars, etc. The logic isn't compelling but the results are stunning. This book is brilliantly evil. The author, in real life, found ways to sell chocolate to the kids in Japan when kids didn't even like chocolate. He seeks to reveal the code of what different culture really think about when they are presented with an idea. He covers presidents, sex, cars, etc. The logic isn't compelling but the results are stunning.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrzej

    Interesting idea propelling the book very well. Maybe some Codes are questionable, but generally matches my international experiences. Could have been a bit more concise, but has its charm.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anneta

    Interesting book. Interesting how different cultures have meaning and understanding to different things. Would recommend to read it to anyone.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    This was a really fun read about how Americans are wired and why, and how that differs from some other European cultures. I especially enjoyed that it was written in 2006 so the references weren’t necessarily current but the patterns absolutely hold up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Very interesting take on the perspective of Americans.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Rapaille argues that America, and by extension, our culture is an adolescent nation. Not only in age, but also in the things we love - fast food, blue jeans, loud and violent movies, Coca Cola, Nike, etc. The author argues that it also explains our fascination with celebrities and the adolscent mistakes they always seem to be making. America is a nation of extremes - rich vs. poor, liberal vs. conservative, etc. Just like adolescents, we're either high or low; there is no middle ground. After th Rapaille argues that America, and by extension, our culture is an adolescent nation. Not only in age, but also in the things we love - fast food, blue jeans, loud and violent movies, Coca Cola, Nike, etc. The author argues that it also explains our fascination with celebrities and the adolscent mistakes they always seem to be making. America is a nation of extremes - rich vs. poor, liberal vs. conservative, etc. Just like adolescents, we're either high or low; there is no middle ground. After this introduction and new way of looking at things, Rapaille discusses different "culture codes" he was consulted to identify by various companies such as Proctor and Gamble, L'Oreal, and others. They seem a little off the wall when they're first revealed, but the author makes a fairly convincing argument for them in most cases. Case in point - the code for alcohol in America is gun. We view alcohol as something that needs to be carefully controlled lest it cause unintended consequences. The consequences of not handling it with respect can be disastrous, if not fatal. Overall, it was an interesting read, if for nothing more than to think about how I think about things. I especially liked when the author discussed how different cultures view themselves and others (i.e. the French view Americans and "space travelers") and how businesses can use this POV to be more successful in marketing their products abroad. Nothing earth-shattering here, but interesting nonetheless.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Varsha

    I started reading this book in early March (before the pandemic shutdown) and was not impressed. Then the shutdown happened and I read the absurd stories of the toilet paper runs on grocery stores. Rapaille says that the code for toilet paper in America is independence so hey he might actually be onto something here!! ;) But overall, it was a sad indictment of marketing being manipulative (case in point: selling coffee in Japan).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tennessee O'Donnell

    I really found this extremely interesting and very thought provoking! quite the conversation topic among my friends...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    This book points out the emotional subtext behind why we do some of the things we do in our culture. It was an interesting read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Wild

    It's a "one idea" book but VERY astute insights into American (and other) culture. Particularly interesting when you've come into that culture from somewhere else. It's a "one idea" book but VERY astute insights into American (and other) culture. Particularly interesting when you've come into that culture from somewhere else.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Nguyen

    Very insightful. But its scale is quite limited somehow. From time to time, the author inevitably makes some lame assumptions.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Juwon Park

    What is Culture? For Rapaille, ‘culture’ is our “village of origin”, or to be specific—the way of life in our “village of origin”. Even as the ever-increasing wave of globalization takes place in our global world of interconnectedness, leveraged by massive advances in communications and transport, only few of us ‘welcomingly’ embrace it. Most of us stick to our own particular cultures, the ways of life in which we come from (and have lived by) than to surrender to the global norms of ‘singularit What is Culture? For Rapaille, ‘culture’ is our “village of origin”, or to be specific—the way of life in our “village of origin”. Even as the ever-increasing wave of globalization takes place in our global world of interconnectedness, leveraged by massive advances in communications and transport, only few of us ‘welcomingly’ embrace it. Most of us stick to our own particular cultures, the ways of life in which we come from (and have lived by) than to surrender to the global norms of ‘singularity’ and ‘sameness’ that tends to define/go along with this wave of globalization. This is why, as Rapaille believes, marketing strategies that emphasize the product’s ‘global-ness’ traits, or those that with a one-size-fits-all approach, tend to fail. Rapaille then goes on to argue that as we approach this age, we need to look at each individual markets (with each individual unique culture) and decide our strategies based on the information gained from these cultures and the people living in them—dubbed as “The Culture Code”. This book provides just that: various analyses of various Cultural Codes that are useful for marketers and advertisers of large corporations. Only after analyzing these Codes can we truly (and successfully) market brands and products in various cultures. In a sense, this book is a guide or a strategy book, “cheat code” if you will, for future strategists wanting to see their brands and companies across the world. As mentioned earlier, there are many Codes in this book, which are categorized by common characteristics/uses: The Codes for Work and Money, The Codes for Health and Youth, The Code for the American Presidency to name a few. However, the category of the Codes that I found the most interesting, and the most intriguing, was the last chapter: The Code for America. Rapaille, as a French American, who immigrated to the “Land of Opportunity” in search for his dream (something that we think of when we are presented with the idea of immigrants coming to the United States) was able to provide his somewhat ‘objective’ analysis of the American Code (having lived in France during his childhood only to immigrate later, he is able to compare his experiences of the French culture with the American culture), combined with multiple accounts by subjects in research sessions. What he came up was that the Code for America was DREAM (he capitalized it in the book). As quoted from this chapter, “The dream of explorers discovering the New World… The dream of entrepreneurs forging the Industrial Revolution…. We are the products of dreams and we are the makers of dreams”. This is precisely what is in the typical American mindset, planted since they were very young. Being a non-American and having went to four years of an ‘American’ international school in my early experiences of being abroad, I am in agreement with him; America and the Americans that I have met and I think of is closely associated with the Code—something/one that dreams, that aspire for something great (even though it may be deemed as impossible), and through its journey inspires others to do so as well. It is probably not a surprise that superhero movies (such as the recent blockbuster hit Avengers: The End Game, or the Dark Knight trilogy) are especially popular and well-liked in America. Not only do they provide the audience (in this context, an American audience) enough action to interest them so that they hold on tightly to their seats to see what would happen next, but they also re-affirm the characteristic of American-ness to the American people: a hero that inspires and does the ‘impossible’ through dream. This may sound stereotypical, or somewhat un-true in reality for some (or many; Joseph E Stiglitz, the author of The Price of Inequality famously argued that this dream is dead, with huge amounts of inequality that makes it hard for most Americans to dream of prosperity anymore). But I believe that they still occupy a central place in the American culture, and the perceptions of Americans from foreign cultures such as mine (Korean). Furthermore, this chapter led me to question what Code (or Codes) Korea has. Having seldom thought about this, I would be intrigued if the author, Dr. Clotaire Rapaille gets a request by companies to look into the Korean culture in order to advertise to the Korean market. I would love to see what foreigners think of Korea, and what Koreans think of Korea. Having read this book, I see myself not entirely as an autonomous individual (unaffected by the surroundings), but as a product of a culture that I inhabit. This book was somewhat a ‘a-ha’ moment to me, something that opened up my thinking in this area. Five out of Five.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jumana

    This is a fascinating and excellent book when you keep in mind the author's intention: to help businesses around the world sell products to mainstream (read: white) U.S. consumers. This book was written before Obama & Trump; before the #MeToo movement; before national marriage equality, and before the murder of Trayvon Martin launched the Black Lives Matter movement. The author ignores the U.S. Culture Codes of racism and white supremacy that drove the extermination of indigenous peoples (Rapail This is a fascinating and excellent book when you keep in mind the author's intention: to help businesses around the world sell products to mainstream (read: white) U.S. consumers. This book was written before Obama & Trump; before the #MeToo movement; before national marriage equality, and before the murder of Trayvon Martin launched the Black Lives Matter movement. The author ignores the U.S. Culture Codes of racism and white supremacy that drove the extermination of indigenous peoples (Rapaille mentions the expansion Westward as a positive trait of the American Dream), embraced slavery, perpetuated Jim Crow laws, exploited and then deported and debased Mexican, Chinese, and Indian workers who were brought in for manual labor. Rapaille does begin to touch on long-standing cultural misogyny related to gender, but he makes the issue more palatable by noting the relationship between Sex & Violence - rather than the more accurate (in my opinion) codes related to Women & Violence. Overall, this book does a great job explaining the ways mainstream U.S. culture unconsciously feels about shopping, luxury, love, sex, etc., in part by showing how viewpoints are different in other countries' majority cultures. His explanations helped me understand our country's choices in a new way. I would love to see a similar book written from a social perspective to help inform advocates and activists about growing public support to address inequalities between different races, ethnicities, low-income, and other marginalized groups in the U.S. Rapaille has worked for many years to help multinational companies make more money - maybe he can now turn his attention to those working to make the world a better place.

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Petrocelli

    Review: Full title is sort of arrogant, and author's writing comes off as if he's is a genius. Granted, the author has some good ideas, but very little of what he claims has been supported empirically. He qualifies his claims by arguing that not everyone adheres to the code - that there is variance in code adherence among the masses. Chapter 7 focuses on the codes for quality and perfection, and it is clearly my favorite. He argues that Americans find perfection boring, signifies the end, and th Review: Full title is sort of arrogant, and author's writing comes off as if he's is a genius. Granted, the author has some good ideas, but very little of what he claims has been supported empirically. He qualifies his claims by arguing that not everyone adheres to the code - that there is variance in code adherence among the masses. Chapter 7 focuses on the codes for quality and perfection, and it is clearly my favorite. He argues that Americans find perfection boring, signifies the end, and they don't actually want something (or perhaps someone) that is (who is) perfect. In another chapter he argues that the code for money and possession sin America is "proof." He only qualifies his imprinting-laden theory once or twice throughout by stating that the codes are general tendencies and that people do vary in the degree to which they adhere to them. In Chapter 1, he outlines how a notion is born, and relies primarily on first impressions and imprinting. He also outlines an interesting method for how he uncovers the codes, focusing on five principles. Also interesting is his discussion of alibis, and how people don't really know why they do what they do; and offer the most logical sounding reasons, although they may be way off target. Favorite Quote: "'I think it is fascinating that the other speakers today have suggested that education is the answer to our country's obesity problem,' I said. I slowly gestured around the room. 'If education is the answer, then why hasn't it helped more of you?'" (p. 63).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Blyden

    This is a fascinating book and a very easy read. As I was reading it I thought it could be a good book to start a conversation in an American Culture or Intro Sociology course. In the introduction and first chapter Rapaille lays out his core thesis and theory, such as it is (Chapter One) - though he adds significant further elements in later chapters, particularly the concept of "alibi" in Chapter 9 and the primacy of the "reptilian" in Chapter 4 - and a summary of his research method on which t This is a fascinating book and a very easy read. As I was reading it I thought it could be a good book to start a conversation in an American Culture or Intro Sociology course. In the introduction and first chapter Rapaille lays out his core thesis and theory, such as it is (Chapter One) - though he adds significant further elements in later chapters, particularly the concept of "alibi" in Chapter 9 and the primacy of the "reptilian" in Chapter 4 - and a summary of his research method on which the findings are based. Chapter Two gives an overview of the U.S. "cultural code" for itself and an exploration of U.S. cultural codes for love and sex. Chapter Ten looks at how other cultures see the U.S. Chapter Twelve is a conclusion and summary. The bulk of the book is looking at the U.S. cultural codes for various aspects of life: love, sex, beauty, fat, health, work, money, quality, food, shopping, luxury, and the Presidency. Rapaille offers at least a few of these in a critical light, and no doubt some readers will take exception to these, and possibly others. I think Rapaille frequently oversimplifies. He catches broad trends and occasionally subcultural variations, but largely omits finer variations (e.g. regional subcultures, class subcultures, individual idiosyncracies, etc). As far as it goes I think Rapaille's analysis tends to be very insightful and on-target, as the marketing success of his clients would seem to confirm. Beyond the question of validity is the issue of value: the difference between what is and what should be. Although he is clearly value-critical on some of the U.S. codes, his view of U.S. culture seems largely appreciative, or at least balanced. One with a more critical bent, such as myself, could easily read into his book as a damning critique of much of what is wrong with U.S. culture. At the heart of his analysis, the U.S. is described as adolescent: immature, dreaming, oversexed, prone to violence, having unchecked appetite for "abundance", and having little regard for quality. The ideas that Americans look at income/money as validation and shopping/consumption as an indicator of social rank ring true to me, but I see that as a negative, a critique rather than as something affirming or positive. Similarly with a number of other aspects of U.S. culture as presented in his book. Rapaille's work is built around the concept of a "cultural code", "the unconscious meaning we apply to any given thing... via the culture in which we are raised". That things have different meanings in different cultures is self-evident. The core idea is only slightly less obvious: that the shared meaning of a thing has to do with how it relates to other things within a particular historical, cultural context, as experienced by the people of that culture, particularly when the experience is deeply emotional, when the experience is a culture-wide event, and especially what is experienced in childhood with the potential to be an imprinting memory, which then subconsciously shapes future behavior. It is here that Rapaille's model starts to depart from those of other scholars. Rapaille argues that human brains are tripartite: the cortex, which is the conscious part of the brain that "makes sense"; the limbic system, or emotional brain that "feels good"; and the neural core that he refers to as "reptilian", which moves us to survive and to reproduce. This partition may be valid, but when Rapaille asserts that the reptilian always trumps the emotional and implies that the emotional always trumps the cerebral, he stands on thin ice. While this may be a tendency, there are clearly times when people's rationality over-rides their emotions, and even times when people sacrifice survival for a non-survival goal. In line with this model, Rapaille offers a few principles of research. One, a researcher cannot accept what people say about the motivations of their own behavior because their explanations will be at the conscious level, while their true motives are, or tend to be, at the "reptilian" level. It is thus necessary to have some means of delving down to the more primal roots. Two, in delving down to these roots, what is important is the relational structure between the person and other persons and object, not the specific content. Rapaille ties this in to Levi-Staussian structuralism, but one could more generally look at it in terms of social and semantic structure broadly. Three, to access the meaning of a thing within a given culture, you must learn the "code" for that thing in that culture. These three principles all make sense, IMO. On two other principles, I think Rapaille's model may overstate the case. Emotion, he writes, is the energy required to learn anything. He goes so far as to suggest that nothing can be learned absent emotion. While I accept that emotion offers the intensity with which a lesson is incorporated, the power of the memory, if you will, I don't think emotion is necessary to learning generally. There is a window in childhood for this kind of emotional imprinting. No doubt childhood socialization offers the strongest opportunity for imprints, but I think it is a mistake to think that cultural meanings exist entirely in the form of childhood memory imprints. A couple times Rapaille says that the change of culture is "glacial" in pace, but this assertion seems to run contrary to many of his own examples, which include how WWII altered French and German culture, or how corporations were able to incrementally alter cultures in a way that favored their product. One has only to look at differences between generations to see that cultures change at least with each new generation. That may be slow, but hardly "glacial". Moreover, the idea that cultures only change glacially is at odds with the theory he offers, which suggests that childhood experience are a motor of cultural meanings, including the meaning of self, i.e. identity. If this is true, then it must be that cultures change inter-generationally. A lot of interesting, productive ideas come out of the cultural codes revealed in this book, including insight on Presidential elections, which might go a long way toward explaining, and perhaps predict an improbable result to the current, 2016, election. I recommend reading it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tan Doan

    Many fascinating culture's stories of difference nations were told. Of course, as an American author, he talks most about American. Are there a little bias, a little personal emotion of the author for his country? Maybe, maybe not. But, the most importance thing is: "It gives you a new set of glasses with which you can see the world in a new way." "I keep thinking that Americans are going to fail terribly sometime soon. How can you succeed when you know so little about how the world works? Someho Many fascinating culture's stories of difference nations were told. Of course, as an American author, he talks most about American. Are there a little bias, a little personal emotion of the author for his country? Maybe, maybe not. But, the most importance thing is: "It gives you a new set of glasses with which you can see the world in a new way." "I keep thinking that Americans are going to fail terribly sometime soon. How can you succeed when you know so little about how the world works? Somehow, though, they tend to wind up on top. It’s a complete mystery to me. —a forty-year-old French man". Here's just a typical paraphrase, not the most worth part, but when you meet this sentence near the end of the book, you possibly also have a cheery smile, like me. Not perfect, but still deserve 5 stars as a reward. After this book, The U.S. is more elegant and attractive. P.S. Nghĩ về VN, lí do gì khiến chúng ta vẫn là một dân tộc mờ nhạt, biết đâu vì thiếu mất một tiếng nói chung trong văn hóa?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    Really a 2.5 star book His assessment of American culture is a bit interesting considering that he considers us to be in our adolescent/rebellious phase as proven by our welcoming of immigrants...even though America has a long history of being rather unwelcoming of immigrants (despite the fact that we are a nation of immigrants). His assessment of why Americans are fat also feels a bit stretching. Frankly, several of the "codes" and facts he claims seem doubtful. For example, he boldly states "Am Really a 2.5 star book His assessment of American culture is a bit interesting considering that he considers us to be in our adolescent/rebellious phase as proven by our welcoming of immigrants...even though America has a long history of being rather unwelcoming of immigrants (despite the fact that we are a nation of immigrants). His assessment of why Americans are fat also feels a bit stretching. Frankly, several of the "codes" and facts he claims seem doubtful. For example, he boldly states "Americans work longer hours than the people of any other culture"...yet statistics, even for back in 2006 when the book was published suggest that this is not actually the case with the average worker in countries like Korea and Mexico working longer. However, his analysis of what Americans want in their president seems a bit closer to the truth given the 2016 election: "[Americans] decidedly do not want a president who thinks too much".

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jona Taylor

    Wow! Usually books that cost next to nothing are worth next to nothing. Not this one, Culture Code was the best book I've read in a long time. I only give 5-stars to those books worth reading a second or third time. Even though the book is in the category of business and marketing it is more in the realm of practical anthropology and is definitely worth a second read. The author told us there would be several ah-ha moments in the book and he wasn't kidding. I have a better understanding of Ameri Wow! Usually books that cost next to nothing are worth next to nothing. Not this one, Culture Code was the best book I've read in a long time. I only give 5-stars to those books worth reading a second or third time. Even though the book is in the category of business and marketing it is more in the realm of practical anthropology and is definitely worth a second read. The author told us there would be several ah-ha moments in the book and he wasn't kidding. I have a better understanding of American culture and now know exactly why Trump was elected and will be able to predict winners in future races. I wish he would write a book describing culture codes of other countries like China, Israel, Australia, oh, just every country in world!

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