Cognitive Ethology in Cross Cultural Perspective: A New Approach to International Consumer Market Research
For the marketing practitioner a critical understanding of the psychology of the consumer is essential if individual and societal needs and wants are to be met. This is especially true in an international context. The normal approach to understanding the consumer is through market research. However, the high rate of product and service failures and short product life-cycles indicate traditional market research does not always supply the answers. Rapaille, originally a French psychiatrist working in linguistics, has adopted a radically new approach to understanding the consumer in a cultural context. He is a market researcher servicing 50 of the Fortune 100 companies. Rapaille's method differs from traditional market research which normally takes a survey approach reflecting reasoned, logical and conscious responses of users and potential consumers. By contrast Rapaille's approach discovers subconscious 'archetypal linguistic icons and codes'. These codes act as triggers and motivators to behaviour at below the level of the conscious mind. The theoretical foundations of his work can be seen against the theoretical disciplines of anthropology, sociology, neurology and is clearly identified with cognitive ethology. The later being a science derived through animal psychology in examining genetic behavioural blue prints. For the market researcher it is essential to discover the 'reptilian code'. Every marketable item for an individual in a cultural context can be identified with a 'code'. This is discovered through a series of regressive focus group interviews. This code once found becomes the foundation point for designing the product, segmenting, targeting, positioning and blending the elements of advertising. promotion, packaging and pricing. This paper explores the psychology literature which underpins the concept and critically evaluates Rapaille's approach. Further, the paper examines the implications for marketing researchers in the cross cultural context.
Keywords: Cognitive Ethology, Reptilian Codes, Rapaille, Marketing Research
Dr Terry Gatfield
Lecturer and Researcher in International Marketing, Department of Marketing, Griffith University
Dr. Stephen Anthony Larmar
Lecturer, Social services, Griffith University