How to research your market in French (and 10 things you didn’t know)

How to research your market in French

Do you like France? The French language? The French?

How well do you know France?

When you hear “France” what comes to your mind?

The spacious Georges Pompidou Museum? A stone house on the hills in the South of France? A good-wine-good-food restaurant in a Brittany hamlet? An empty motorway through the Auvergne region? The azure sky over an Alpine ski resort?

A fresh baguette? A glass of Bordeaux wine?

All lovely things British magazines, blogs and websites talk about all the time.

Does it draw the picture of France? Do you think clichés help to understand a culture? To connect with the people?

Discover less-known things I found for you.

Did you know that?

1) In 2013 Paris was the only town in the world to get the AAA rating. (Source: Journal du Net)

2) Paris was also the best city for students. (Source: QS-Top Universities)

3) French multinational groups hold more than 33,300 foreign subsidiaries. With 5 million employees. (Source: Ministère de l’Economie et des Finances-Ministère du Commerce Extérieur)
And 20 000 foreign-owned companies are doing business in France. Two million people work for them. (Source: Embassy of France in London)

4) The French social and family policies have softened the impact of the recession. Unlike its neighbours, France has no “crash” demographic. In 2011 the French had more babies than other European families, but Ireland. (Source: Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques)

5) France ranks second among the countries of the European Union for the number of patents issued. French companies have filed over 12,000 patents in 2012. (Source: Ministère du Commerce Extérieur)
Can you read French? Discover the 10 French companies that have filed most patents in 2011. (source)

6) In 2013 the European Institute of the History and Culture of Food made honorary doctorates four chefs from abroad. The Institute is part of University of Tours. (Source: RFI)

7) Did you know that France has the most hunters in Europe? 1.2 million license holders.
Did you think football was the most popular sport in France? You are right. More than 2 million people play football. Men and women. Do you want to know about French women? Meet “Les Bleues.” (source)

8) The Haute-Savoie department in the North Alps is a paradise. Skiing. Hiking. Rock-climbing. It’s also a place where companies export all over the world. Evian, Fruité, S.T. Dupont, Salomon, Patagonia Europe to name a few.
Many SMEs are leader in their field. Robotics. Mechatronics. Hydraulic components. Metals and special materials. Nanotechnology. Some companies are world leaders.
Did you know that a company making anti-friction systems contributed to Curiosity, the NASA’s robot? (Source: Agence Economique Départementale de la Haute-Savoie)
And I can’t resist to show you my sister’s first toy: Sophie la Girafe. Made in Haute-Savoie in 1961 it’s now in babies’ hands all over the world. (source)

9) Since 1936, 10 French researchers received the Fields Medal. It’s described as the “mathematician’s Nobel Prize. For this honour France is in second position behind the USA and in front of Russia. (Source: Wikipedia)

10) In 2013 the Saint-Marcellin cheese received the Protected Geographical Indication (IGP). It refers to agricultural products linked to a geographical area. For European food producers this is serious matter because it means quality. (Source: European Commission, Agriculture and Rural Development)

Did you know all that?

What’s the point of this strange list?

From a NASA robot to a small cheese.

Each example represents a French industry sector. For each of them you can find lots of data and information on the Internet.

But do you know where to search?

What to select and what to delete?

Do you know how to check sources?

Understanding French words and expressions is not enough to research your market in France.

You need to understand the cultural context, too.

Think about it like this: imagine you join a big family meal, but you don’t know anyone. The young guy at your left is joking. You laugh, but you don’t get his jokes because you don’t know the people he’s talking about. The older lady at your right is talking about a wedding. When? Where? She opens her handbag and shows you a photo.

You don’t have a clue.

When researching the French market, it’s the same.

Knowing the cultural framework and the French context helps to associate ideas. To select the data. To make sense of it for your project in France.

The research can involve reading annual reports and white papers in French. Comparing French statistics. Running interviews with French people.

None of these activities is possible without the French language.

What helps you make marketing decisions?

A general brochure on your industry sector? Is it recent? Updated? With the list of the main companies in your field? Is it published in French? Or in English?

Do you want to know about the pricing of your main competitor in a particular area of France? How they display their product in French shops?

Where they publish their press releases? How they use Twitter?

Do you need to see French advertising campaigns or French packs?

Ask your agency or your marketing specialist for helpful stuff. Like samples. Pictures. Magazines. Packs. Adverts. Sometimes trivial things bring clarity.

Official data can be confusing because people disagree on statistics all the time.

Verbiage can drown you like a brackish pond.

Ask for facts. Ask for local insight.

And decide.

Want to know the best wines for the Saint-Marcellin cheese? Bourgogne Rouge or Vallée du Rhône.

Santé !




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