Playing With Cultural Differences

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As some of our recent entries have shown, summer is a time to think of travelling to new locales. Crossing cultures and the fascinating variations which can be observed are always of interest to us so today we’ll share a culturally themed observation and case study from The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille (p. 176-177).

“Lego, the Danish toy company, found instant success with their interlocking blocks in the German market, while sales foundered in the United States. Why? 

(American) children would tear into the boxes, glance fleetingly at the instructions (if they looked at them at all), and immediately set out on a construction project of their own. They seemed to be having a wonderful time, but they were as likely to build, say, a fort, as they were to build the automobile for which the blocks were intended.  And when they were done, they would tear their fort apart and start over from scratch. To Lego’s dismay, a single box of Legos could last for years.

In Germany, however, Lego’s strategy worked exactly as intended. German children opened a box of Legos, sought out the instructions, read them carefully, and then sorted the pieces by colour. They began building, comparing their assembly progress to the crisp, helpful illustrations in the instruction booklet, when they were finished, they had an exact duplicate of the product shown on the cover of the box. They showed it to Mother, who clapped approvingly and put the model on a shelf.    Now the children needed another box.”


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