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The right way to enter the French market

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Planning a trip to France? Here are my top tips to help you navigate your way into the French market:

 

  • When you greet someone in a business environment, offer a handshake and a friendly, ‘bonjour’. No need to worry about ‘la bise’. The ‘air kiss’ is a very common, yet informal greeting that will not be expected in a business environment, unless a friendship has already been established.
  • If speaking French, mind your ‘tu’ and ‘vous’ (the informal and formal variations of the word, ‘you’), you might end up insulting someone if you don’t choose the correct ‘you’. French organizations are also quite hierarchical, where professional ranks are observed and respected. Stick to ‘vous’ unless the person says otherwise.
  • Arrogant or very formal? The French have a highly formal approach to most things within a business environment, from emails, dress code and even when it comes to addressing people. If you are unsure, use ‘madame’ (never mademoiselle) for women and ‘monsieur’ for men. Otherwise, address the person using their last name and title until invited to use their first name.
  • When it comes to smalltalk, your culture’s openers might be offensive to the french; ‘are you married? Do you have kids? What does your husband do?’ The french hold a respect for privacy and personal space in high regard.
  • Expect your business lunch to last a couple of hours (and yes, it’s pretty normal to have a glass of wine)! Good food and company is fundamental in french culture and lunches are not to be eaten at one’s desk.

 

Don’t miss the video of our former British and French researcher, Chloe, below for some more tips when it comes to the French business environment:

A note on social media in France:

Generally, France’s social media usage follows a similar trend to that of the UK for example, with Facebook at the forefront in terms of popularity, followed by Youtube, Instagram and Twitter. However, it is worth noting that in France, Youtube has an exceptional amount of active users, with magazines, newspapers and brands starting to share via this platform, therefore having a significant influence on french online users. Instagram is increasingly popular, so would be a great platform to prioritise.

 

British/American and self-proclaimed, francophile, Phoebe Brewster is the British and French fashion and design curator. From San Francisco, to Frankfurt, London and Paris, Phoebe decided to find a new home in the beautiful Copenhagen, where she is exploring her passion for modern communication in fashion & design, sustainable living and being outdoors.

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