Understand Culture First; Plan Experiential Marketing Events Second

As marketers, we know one of the most powerful things we can do is appeal to people’s emotions. But consumers’ emotional responses to our products, services and marketing efforts can be very different depending on their culture.

That’s why it’s essential to understand your audience’s language, history, art, food — all those essential parts of culture — before you plan any type of marketing effort. Experiential marketing efforts in particular can fall flat if you don’t tailor them to the needs and interests of your audience.

To demonstrate why understanding culture is so important for marketers, we turned to the work of Dr. Gilbert Clotaire Rapaille, founder and CEO of Archetype Discoveries Worldwide. Rapaille is an author and highly sought-after speaker who pioneered a marketing methodology called the Culture Code (and wrote a very popular book by the same name).

In this article, Rapaille describes the Culture Code as a way to unearth hidden truths within a culture using psychoanalysis and a deep understanding of people’s norms and values. He works to identify what he calls “imprints,” or positive impressions made on people from a very young age. Once he’s discovered those deep-seated impressions that appeal to the most fundamental and simple parts of their brains, he helps brand understand how to use that information to create highly successful marketing campaigns.

One of the most fascinating examples Rapaille shares is from his work with Folgers coffee. After extensive study, he found that Americans develop a positive association (or imprint) with the smell of coffee from a very early age. “The whole culture imprint is of mother preparing breakfast in the kitchen and the feelings evoked: I am going to be fed, she loves me, I am home and I am safe,” he says in the article.