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The Culture Code

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The Culture Code

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


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

If you want to understand why a product sells or sinks, look at how well it fits the market’s existing cultural codes.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


The core idea of this pleasant, accessible book is easy to grasp: Culturally specific codes shape people’s understandings, behaviors and emotional responses. French-born psychoanalyst and marketing maven Clotaire Rapaille brings a useful perspective shaped by his experiences as a U.S. immigrant to his discussion of what he calls “Culture Codes.” His methods for tapping into these codes are straightforward. However, some of his conclusions lead to fairly sweeping, general claims about overall national cultures. His explanations of coded cultural instincts and actions are still interesting, particularly when he delves specifically into American, French, English, German, Japanese and other societies. getAbstract suggests his book to those interested in cultural differences and those responsible for tailoring marketing concepts to reach specific national audiences around the world.


Learning from Your Culture

The “Culture Code” is a combination of imprints shared by an entire culture. The cultural codes that people grow up with shape their responses to all kinds of objects, from cars to toys and ideas, from love to violence. Individuals may not be aware of the “imprint” of their culture, but it powerfully dominates their perceptions, and unconsciously guides their actions, decisions and emotional responses. An individual’s silent cultural code is second only to the genetic code in determining his or her actions and decisions. It governs how people handle essential human behaviors like eating, working and falling in love, and it affects their response to sales messages. When deciphering culture codes, marketers should be aware of five determining factors:

  • “You can’t believe what people say” – Many marketers ask focus groups what they, as consumers, want. However, such studies can be misleading because people can explain only what they think they want. They can share their rational desires without realizing that when the time comes to make a choice, their cultural coding will shape their decisions. Although marketers shouldn’t entirely...

About the Author

Psychoanalyst and marketer Clotaire Rapaille is the founder and chairman of Archetype Discoveries Worldwide.

Comment on this summary

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    M. O. 5 years ago
    Brilliant summary! Im very interested in cultures and so will definitely be buying the book. Welcome onboard Jimena.
    ...And yes, how do you mean its free till Tuesday?
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    A. O. 5 years ago
    The email says I can read it for free till Tuesday, but how?:)
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    M. S. 5 years ago
    Welcome Jimena!! Another super Book for understanding the codes of integration in a new society is :Embracing new Tastes