The undeniable 6 Vital Roots are the basis for our collective behaviours, character flaws and good qualities as a people. I’ve identified 36 of these traits and named them The 36 Heartstrings of Quebecers.

So why 36? Why not 50? It’s because if we go any higher than this number, the formula loses validity. I feel I have to guarantee that each Heartstring resonates with at least 50% of all Quebecers. Some will apply to more than that number, but none will apply to less. Averages rule in advertising. With the mystical power of numbers on my side, I am sticking to 6 times 6 Heartstrings. I’m completely satisfied with how the grid is self-sustaining and how, as a tool for advertisers, it includes everything that is needed to appeal to the key collective emotions of Quebecers.

Lotto games often involve 6 or 36. Young earless seals start their family on the volcanic-sand beaches of the Galapagos Islands with 6 female companions. Once they reach their prime, they’ll have 36. Welcome to Heartstring 20!

So how can you tell if a Heartstring is really a Heartstring? Consider this: a survey revealed that 63% of English Canadians – versus only 13% of French Canadians – thought that having the picture of the Queen of England on a stamp was a tradition worth upholding. If I were listing English Canadian Heartstrings, this discovery would lead me to think that Loyalty to the Crown (Royalism) is indeed one of the Heartstrings of the English Canadian community. And then, to make sure I was right, I would put my theory to the test in the consumer lab using several practical observations.

Inspired by the poster described earlier, a Chicoutimi student sent me his list of 63 Heartstrings with No. 51 being Thirst for Beer. Our penchant for Goethe’s holy hops stems from many different factors. First, there’s background. Anglo-Saxons drink a lot of beer. Second is our history. Jean Talon set up the first brewery in Quebec. Third is our climate. Vines don’t grow well in Quebec. And finally, there’s the economy. Beer is cheaper than wine and whiskey. The amount of beer we consume (which is often exaggerated) is proverbial, but any food or drink we overconsume is not a Heartstring in itself. The act of drinking too much or eating more than others are just two of the 12 components that, once put together, give us Heartstring 34. You need more than just one component to confirm a Heartstring.

This is how readily observable factors, and others that are on a more psychological level, influence our consumer choices, whether it’s for something as simple as potatoes or something a little more refined like pea soup.

We also know that social classes in Quebec are not as clearly defined as in other places and that makes the differences in buying power between groups of individuals almost negligible. This means that buying items, even luxury items, is not necessarily linked to disposable income just as it isn’t a trait found only in the elite. Doctors and plumbers who swear the same both drive their Cadillacs to Miami after the first snowfall.

As soon as several behaviours that are popular among Quebecers and pretty much exclusive to them seem driven by the same engine, this engine, which can have many pistons, becomes a Heartstring. Individually, each Heartstring is not necessarily exclusive to Quebecers, but all 36 Heartstrings put together are. We’ll see that in crowd psychology, flaws often become good qualities and vice versa.

Discovering our emotional engines will enable us to weigh options before deciding on a purchase and to think before spending or voting. I want Quebecers to find out how they work on the inside as well as on the outside. I don’t make things up. I observe, and I use the hard data I gather in my BCP lab to tweak my numbered grid of emotions to help Quebecers decode, interpret and understand all the messages they receive from advertisers and politicians, propagandists and songwriters, journalists and priests, and all the others who make a living off the collective unconscious of Quebecers.

This grid of numbered behaviours will show you how the commercial from the Banque Provinciale tugs at Heartstrings 1, 7 and 9 in major, and 11, 17 and 22 in minor. It will reveal how Rodrigue Biron uses Heartstrings 2, 4 and 5 of the Earth Root, and how Claude Ryan opposes Heartstrings 7, 20 and 30 with Heartstrings 16 and 23. And then someday you’ll catch yourself decoding songs by Gilles Vigneault and Pauline Julien, as well as Quebec novels and films.

If you’ve fallen in love with a pretty girl from Lac Saint-Jean, you may want to write her a letter based on Heartstrings 25 to 30. It’ll be easy for you to decode her reply, and not let your guard down too quickly.

You’ll quickly learn that as soon as someone has something to sell, whether it’s an idea or a product, they’re tugging at your Heartstrings. And that’s what you need to become aware of.

Once initiated to the grid of our Heartstrings, you’ll become aware of what is going on. And thanks to the code, you can decipher the emotional (and/or logical) content of any message without error.

The tables will turn, and consumers who were once being stalked will start doing their own stalking for a change.

© 2014 – English translation and website by Lawrence Creaghan. Published online with the permission of Guérin Éditeur Ltée and the Fondation Jacques-Bouchard.