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Position your business for profit in France

By François Reynier


Doing business in France could mean better profits and more significant margins than in the UK, so why ignore such an easy market to approach?

It is easy to forget that France is a golden opportunity to Kentish businesses, and not only because of its geographical proximity, writes François Reynier, Creative Director of Acacia.

Did you know that France is the fifth largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest consumer market in Europe?

Also, the French economy has also proven remarkably resilient to recent recessions. An attractive proposition to businesses concerned about possible economic turmoil following Brexit. 

By the way, don’t let Brexit lead you to think that you shouldn't consider this vast market. On the contrary - 2018 might be the best time to explore France while access remains friction-free. Strong business connections made before Brexit will become even more valuable post-Brexit.

To maximise your chances of success, you need to carefully prepare your entry into the French market. So what is the most common and rarely mentioned mistake to avoid?

At Acacia, we've seen many businesses not realising the need to position themselves differently in France than in the UK. It is easy to assume that a marketing message that works well in the UK will foster similar positive results in France. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Marketing campaigns which might have done well in the UK could backfire in France. 

First impressions matter, and there are no second chances, even more so with foreign audiences. 

It is critical to accurately assess how best to position your products and services to potential French clients before making any initial approaches. More often than not you will need to position your business offer differently than in the British market. On the upside, this might enable you to command higher prices and better margins than in the UK.

“First impressions matter, and there are no second chances, even more so with foreign audiences.”

For example, an independent Kentish brewery is only one among many competitors with similar offering in the UK market. In France on the other hand, its Britishness could be a distinct competitive advantage and even a key selling point. Therefore this Brewery might focus its entire marketing efforts in positioning itself as quintessentially British to French audiences and target customers willing to pay more for imported beers.

The same beer could sell for much higher prices and generate more significant margins in France than in the UK. Isn't that an opportunity worth exploring?

This doesn't just apply to products, but also to services, one of the major exports of the UK economy worldwide. British innovation is in high demand, notably in technology, engineering and life sciences.

If deciding how to position your business in France seems confusing, you could enlist specialist expertise from a consultant with real knowledge of the French market. Making your business offering attractive and distinctive is an essential step to success in France like anywhere else.

Lastly, it's important to remember that when targeting a new foreign market, your export project is first and foremost a communication project before being an export project. 

François Reynier is Creative Director of Acacia, a multilingual marketing consultancy working across borders, languages and cultures.