The French market generally
Why should we be interested in France?
The French market offers a number of attractions for Polish and American companies:
√ France is the second largest market in continental Europe, with almost 63 million people
√ France is a “reference market” for much of western Europe, particularly for consumer and high-technology goods and services; rollouts of products successfully sold in France will benefit from the prestige of French sales
√ France is centrally located in western Europe and benefits from excellent infrastructure links to a number of other European markets
√ France is geographically and economically centralized; a distributor or partner based in the Paris region can generally cover the entire country
√ Contrary to popular opinion, both Poles and Americans (particularly individually) have a very favorable reputation in France
What products are particularly attractive for the French market?
France is a wealthy, sophisticated, demanding market. Products attractive for the French market include:
√ Fruits, vegetables, wines, almost any high-quality food products
√ New, fashionable products from the US that represent new trends in American culture
√ Sophisticated high-tech products and services that offer “cutting-edge” technical solutions
√ Cost-competitive products that can compete with high-cost French products (and take advantage of the currently strong Euro)
√ Labor-saving products and services (as French labor costs and market rigidities push French companies to keep staffs as lean as possible)
Do we have to speak French?
The French have come to terms with English as the lingua franca of the business world and the 21st century. French children learn English from an early age, and particularly the younger French are more than happy to practice their English with willing foreigners. The percentage of fluent English speakers appears to be higher than in many western European countries (e.g., Italy).
That being said, learning a few French phrases and a smattering of French history and French current events is a very worthwhile investment of your time and effort (and can even be fun). The French believe that it is their duty as Frenchmen to transmit the sacred flame of “la civilization” to all those not fortunate enough to be French, and showing an interest in all things French indicates your recognition of this basic truth. More than most others, the French want to be admired for their sophistication, savoir faire and discernment. If you show an interest, you will find that the French are delighted to explain all the wonderful aspects of living and working in France.
What is WELA’s connection to France?
Windham Loopesko’s love of France began with his first visit in 1973 and has continued through more than 175 trips; he has been working with French companies as well as government, not-for-profit and educational institutions since 1983. In 1986 he married a French national and subsequently acquired French nationality himself; he and his wife have raised three bilingual and bi-cultural children. He is bilingual in French and has taught for three years at the University of Lyon, as well as lecturing frequently in French in front of a variety of audiences. He has will have visited all of the 96 départements in metropolitan France. In 2012 he published his first book in France, “Pourquoi Bill ne n’achète-t-il pas mon fromage?” (“Why won’t Bill buy my cheese?”) , an explanation of American business culture to a French exporting audience.