Doing business in France
An overview on French culture
The scholar Hofstede developed four dimensions to look into how cultures differ from each other. We can have an overview of French culture using the framework. (1)Individualism vs. Collectivism. Generally speaking, France is more of a collective country, which means that groups play an important role in people’s life. French tend
to conceive themselves as part of group. (2) Power distance. France rank high in the PDI, and it shows that people in France have respect for authority and are more tolerant to the fact that people in higher status enjoy privilege. (3) Uncertainty avoidance. The score of France in this index is high too. French people will feel anxious about uncertain things, and usually in French company, they set up lots of written formalities to reduce the risk. (4) Masculinity/Femininity. The French society has a feminine feature because they put an emphasis on the quality of life and they care more about the relationship between people.
Negotiation in France
France is a modern and dynamic country, which had a very long and influential culture. They are very proud of their culture and also the culture had a significant influence on people’s life there.
Preparation. Before starting a negotiation with French, one should get well prepared about the culture there and also get some acquaintance with the French style negotiation. During the process of preparation, company should try to arm themselves with knowledge about the country and some French if possible. French
people like people who know France well. It is because of their national pride. Also Chinese company should learn more about the company which is to negotiate with, especially the history and achievement of the company, since French culture shows past-oriented feature to some degree and history is very important to them. Negotiation. When attending a meeting, Chinese company should be ware to dress properly and formally, which the French counterpart will interpret as respect. Since French is not vey sensitive toward time, late arrival is always expected. As for the negotiation language, it would be better if it is French, because French people feel uncomfortable when they speak English. Usually in France, people don’t get right
away into business in meeting, instead, some warming-up topic is preferred before serious meeting started. During negotiation, non-verbal communication is used lot. Therefore it is important that Chinese negotiator pay enough attention to it. And because French people is anxious about uncertainty, they often spend a lot of time on talking about details of contract under negotiation, usually at this time, Chinese company is required to show enough patience. As is known to others, French negotiator is the most aggressive negotiator among Europeans, partly it is because they stick to the aims and will try their best to attain the objective. This style of negotiation do not necessarily means rudeness, instead, it is also widely know that French people are very fair and they always want to get to an win-win situation. And once you establish a relationship with them, they are rather loyal to the relationship. Marketing in France
Adaptation to the local environment is always the key concept in international
marketing. We can have an analysis through the marketing mix to see how Chinese company can market successfully in France.
The first step for Chinese company is to decide a target market rather than carry out marketing far and wide, which usually turn out in vain.
Product. After deciding the target market, product is the core of this issue. And the quality of the products is even more crucial. French culture is more of a feminine culture, which means that they put a great emphasis on the quality of life. Thus, French consumers have a high requirement on the quality of product. Chinese company should try to improve the performed-quality of the products thus meeting the consumer’s perceived-quality. What’s more, Chinese company should attach more
attention to produce innovative and differentiated products. Although France isn’t a
typical individual country, still individualism is prevailing among young people, which means that they tend to pursue after novel and unique things. Companies also should not neglect the proper package. Usually, a fancy-style package is preferred because French perceive themselves advanced in aesthetics, and tends to refuse vulgar things. Detailed information about the product is a requirement, too. French consumer will read the information carefully before they make the decision for the reason that they want to avoid any uncertainty.
Promotion. While advertising in France, a good ad is one that demonstrates a special taste in the products and usually contains rich cultural connotation. The language issue cannot be underestimated too. Companies should make sure that there isn’t any
mistake in translation in ads or any other promotion material. For most French, the
language is their pride and they are very sensitive if their Francaise is used improperly. Inviting celebrities to endorse goods is very popular in France, and Chinese companies can invite celebrities as their product spokesman to persuade consumer purchase.
Place. As for distribution channels, it is very common for Chinese company to sell their products through discount store or even street vendor, however, this is not good for the image of Chinese products. It is better for Chinese companies to cooperate with reliable distributors, like supermarkets or shopping mall, which will convince the consumers of the quality of the products.
Price. Last but not least, although French are not as sensitive as Chinese to price, still a proper price is needed. French people accept a price when they think it deserves the quality. Therefore too high a price is sometimes unreasonable while a low price always means bad quality.
Human resource management in France
Hiring French. Due to the high unemployment rate in France, French will like it when a foreign company enters the French market; it means job opportunities. Thus, when a Chinese company enters France, it would be a wise choice to hire local people. French will like the company because the company creates jobs for them. And also because local employees know the environment better, they know how to respond to changes more quickly. However, hiring French is a challenge too. In France, workers have a tradition to fight for their rights and there is lots of strike everyday. The trade union has a huge power to negotiate with employers, thus Chinese company should
make sure that the workers are always treated properly to avoid unnecessary trouble. Moreover, in France, providing workers enough training is essential, too. If a worker is fired because he is unskilled, usually it is considered not only the problem of the worker himself but also the responsibility of the company. Companies in France have the obligation to provide them training opportunity.
Motivation. Like workers everywhere, money is important. For a company, being able to provide a competitive salary, maybe higher than average, is a means to keep workers stay. French workers will be very responsible to work if they are paid decently. Another key point about salary to remember is never decrease salary, it is certainly to cause offense in French workers. Other kinds of motivation included stock option, commission and the like. Besides money, enough communication should be given to create a good atmosphere in the company. French people are sometimes collective; as a result teambuilding activities are very important to them. French are loyal to the company if they have a sense of belonging and have a good relationship with their coworkers. Another interesting point there is that because French culture is leisure culture and feminine, providing them with vocations when they want can act as motivation, too.
Public relation in France
Government. In France, there are a lot of legislative and regulatory measures on corporation communication. Company is supposed to have a comprehensive understanding of the political and legal environment there because companies sometimes have to deal with different levels of government.
Interest group. There are lots of interest groups in France, although they may not represent the whole population, they always have their own network and media. This aspect should never be overlooked. The NGO and NPO play an active role in the French society; companies should spend enough time to care the relationship with them.
To do business in France is never easy and even harder than in other European countries, because there are lots of barriers caused both by culture and political environment. And since French market is very mature, it is very difficult to get a strong foothold there, especially for Chinese company. To operate better in France, companies should borrow local service as much as possible such as hiring local consultancy or seek help from CCI (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in each city. And the uppermost thing firms should focus in innovation. In a mature market, only innovation can cause consumers’ eyes and remove the bad impression of Chinese
Susan C. Schneider and Jean-Louis Barsoux .”Managing across cultures”, second
Agathe ALMUEIS ,Delphine COMARAT, Aurelie Alexandra KYSELIC and Adrien WATINE,“The Fench negotiation style and comparison with the Harvard