I had been working with a client on a new product positioning. It was a very valuable product offering and not very complicated to explain to potential customers. We were on the way back from a busy one week trip to Japan. We had been presenting the product for five days of double two hour meetings followed by wonderful working dinners, where each night the great sake threatened to open the locks to our as of yet unannounced product features. We were taking a few notes and talking about what we had learned. Then the client put his pen down on his note pad and asked “How do you think Europe will react to this. With all sensitivity extracted by the previous nights and days, I responded: “Europe? Which Europe?”
If you watched the World Cup of Soccer, you probably noticed the difference in styles, speeds and organization in the different teams. You may have noticed the French team exercising their individualism even against their own coach, the German team fast and well organized with few outbursts of anger, while the Spanish and Italian teams were full of fire and showing their frustration with pouts, grimaces and much hand flailing. You may also notice the nationalism and rivalry amongst their supporters. This should convince you that Europe is not a country, but rather a continent with different cultures, rules of conduct and ways of doing business. Europe isn’t any more uniform in its ways than the soccer fans are in the color of their face paint (see reference reading below).