All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to Amazon.com through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Culture Code, by Clotaire Rapaille


The Culture Code, by Clotaire Rapaille, is a study in what makes us buy what we do. And it turns out that we have deeply held attachments to certain products which are practically formed at birth. Why? It's our culture.

Rapaille studies what people buy and why they buy it. He consults with companies that want to develop a new advertising campaign in another country, for instance, or have attempted to market a product unsuccessfully. His technique has three parts: Ask a representative pool of potential customers to describe the product as if he's unfamiliar with it; have them associate words with the product cut from magazines or other print; and finally, ask them what they are feeling when they think about the product. This third step often reveals early memories, and people with positive early memories are more likely to find a place for it in their lives (and spend money for it) as adults. He calls this link from feelings to pocketbook, "the Code."

In the United States, "the Code" for Jeep is "horse." Americans, he found, tended to associate the vehicle with the freedom of riding on the open range--a feeling that one can "go anywhere" and that there are no boundaries. But in Europe, Jeep wasn't synonymous with horse at all. The Code for Jeep in Europe was "liberator." To French and German car buyers, jeeps were the vehicles American servicemen drove in World War II. An American marketing campaign equating a Jeep to a horse wouldn't work at all in Europe.

Nestle wasn't "on Code" in its first efforts to sell coffee in Japan. The Japanese were traditionally tea drinkers. They had no memories of waking to the smell of coffee or the example of parents who drank coffee while reading the morning paper. Coffee sales were poor. Marketing efforts to sell coffee failed because they weren't "on Code." An education in "the Code" led Nestle to try a different approach--build a history by appealing to the younger generation with coffee flavored desserts. Early imprinting makes the flavor of coffee more familiar and opens the market to coffee as a beverage when the younger generation reaches adulthood.

If you've ever wondered why Disney struggled to find success with its theme park in France or why a wildly successful Jeopardy! winner appeals to the television viewing public, knowing "the Code" will give you some insight.

The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy As They Do was published in 2007 with an updated afterword by Broadway Books, a division of Random House. It is dedicated by the author "to the GI who gave me chocolate and chewing gum on top of his tank two weeks after D-Day . . . and changed my life forever."

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