The French Market
Culture and Tactics
For Invest in France Agency
Doing Business in France Breakfast Seminar
Portland, Oregon ~ November 5th 2013
Dan Nicollet - www.origoterra.com
• Born French-American
Trained in France and USA
• 20 years - international technology
(enterprise software, product
development, sales, general management)
• Chronology and geography:
PA, AZ, CA
Surprise Is on The Menu
• Think Globally but Act Locally.
• Don’t let a global mindset keep you from
expressing yourself as you are or from being
curious and receptive to local differences.
Contradictions and Myths
• France free trade and economic freedoms weak
but France GDP is 3rd Largest among 25 EU and Top 6 in the
World and since mid-’00s France posts systemic trade deficit
(US: machinery, electronics, chemical, and medical).
• French known for tourism, luxury and cultural lifestyles
but France is also a world leader in aerospace, rail, cosmetics,
insurance, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, energy, and defense.
• France is know for payroll taxes and inflexible labor
but France has been and is being deeply reformed and most
French business people admire US business culture.
• France protects products linked to its “exception Française”
but US wine, McDonald’s, and British cheese sell well in France.
France Imports From US
MIT Harvard Economic Complexity Observatory http://atlas.media.mit.edu/explore/tree_map/import/fra/usa/show/2010/
Business Etiquette Tips
Address people formally when meeting them first.
Introduce yourself with your first + last name.
Use some French wherever possible.
Keep personal life out of professional discussions.
Avoid high-pressure sales tactics.
Expect probing questions and interruptions.
Learn French non-verbal and gestures:
– Use a brisk, light handshake.
– Keep your hands on the table.
– Personal space.
• Wear quality business attire, even on a Friday.
A Higher-Context Culture
From the anthropologist Edward T. Hall in his 1976 book Beyond Culture
3 Keys To French Culture
• Geert Hofstede (Dutch psychologist)
cross-cultural psychology – 5 dimensions.
(vs. risk taking)
(strength of social hierarchy – “dirigisme”)
(vs. femininity - task vs. person focused)
Regions: Differences = Opportunities
• Paris Île‐de‐France
nearly 12 million population, larges
t regional economy in Europe.
• Rhône‐Alpes (area around Lyon)
chemical industries, wine,
• Provence‐Alpes‐Côte d’Azur
manufacturing, wine, tourism,
manufacturing, transport (rail)
• Pays de la Loire
tourism, green technology
• Cultural differences too: time, formality, business
etiquette, attire, negotiation style.
• France is open for business now
– Generation X and Y open to US business culture
– Regulatory simplifications and incentives
– Challenged economy creates opportunities
• Aim at mid-term milestones
– Forging the right relationships takes more time
– Use your strategy but use French tactics
• Do not go alone
– Relationships matter and friends help
– France experienced in partnering with US
+1 (503) 616 4007