France Guide: How to Grow Your Company into the French Market

January 12, 2023
Post feature
Are you a global company looking to grow your business in France? This is the guide for you!
France is the ideal location for companies looking to expand their reach in Europe. It offers world-class infrastructure, a talented and highly educated workforce, and access to some of the world's most influential markets.
In this market guide, we'll provide tips on how to grow your company in France so you can connect better with French audiences and maximize your sales.
Let's get started!

Market overview: What you need to know about France

France is a popular destination for global companies looking to expand operations into the lucrative European markets.
The country sits at the "crossroads" of Europe. It is the largest country in Western Europe and borders Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain.
With a population of 66.9 million people, France offers great opportunity for businesses across many sectors, including aerospace, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and microelectronics. France's top imports include machinery, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, and chemicals.
The French government recently reinforced their commitment to foreign investment with the "Choose France" summit in January 2019.
The capital city is Paris, a lively city with plenty of potential for businesses. There are over 6 times the number of residents in Paris (11 million) as in the next largest city (Lyon with 1.7 million).
Overall, France is an excellent choice if you are looking to expand into new markets, with its supportive government, sophisticated customers, and access to multiple industries.

Digital adoption in France: GDP and demographics

Digital adoption in France is growing and presents an exciting opportunity for global businesses. Internet penetration is 83%, meaning that most of the population is online. Of those people actively using the internet, 76% are active on social media. However, compared to other markets, French consumers spend less time on social media per day.
The French language ranks as the internet's top 5th language for digital opportunity. Its contribution to the world's eGDP (the percentage of global online income opportunity for companies) is currently 7%, with a total population share making up 4.8% of the total global online population.
With its diverse population demographics, there are many benefits to be gained from digitally targeting French consumers and businesses.
Inline image

What languages are spoken in France?

The only official language of France is French. However, France is a linguistically diverse country. Various regional languages are spoken, such as Basque, Breton, and Corsican. There are also a sizable number of other prominent mother tongues including German, Arabic, and Occitan.
By law, commercial advertisements must be presented in French, although other languages may be used alongside.
It's important to note that the French language spoken in France differs from Canadian French. This means that you will probably have to localize your content for France even if you already serve French-speaking Canada.
Unlike many other countries in Europe, English isn't widely spoken in France. According to the English Proficiency Index, the level of English spoken in France ranks it as 26th in Europe, significantly below countries like Norway, Portugal, and Germany.
If you want to reach French audiences, you need to localize into the French language.

5 compelling benefits to doing business in France

There are some significant benefits to choosing France as a market to grow your business.
Some of these include:

1. Product excellence and diversity

The French market is known for its diverse selection of products, from food and drink to home goods and fashion. France also has a history of excellence in manufacturing, particularly luxury goods.
This diverse range of product offerings means people are willing to pay for quality goods.

2. Strong links with the rest of Europe

Being located at the crossroads of Europe provides a unique advantage for companies operating in France.
You can benefit from the market's favorable location and strong transport links in both land, rail, and air. You can also benefit from trading agreements within the European Union.

3. Large, economic powerhouse

As one of the world's largest economies, France offers a thriving business environment with growth opportunities for companies of almost any size.
With its highly skilled and educated workforce, there is a rich talent pool in the market that can be beneficial for your French operations.

4. Extensive digital connectivity

With its 5G network rollout now at 84% of the country,, and the 9th fastest broadband internet in the world France has a strong digital infrastructure.
Businesses can take advantage of this when rolling out digital initiatives, such as eCommerce offerings, eLearning programs, and social media marketing.

5. Rapidly expanding eCommerce market

The French eCommerce market is rapidly expanding and saw an estimated revenue of almost $70 billion in 2021.
In France, there is also a beneficial equilibrium between an efficient delivery logistics infrastructure and customers' patience. People are willing to wait for their orders without setting unrealistic expectations on delivery times.

Compliance and regulations in France you should know about

As a global business operating in France, it's important to understand the relevant norms and regulations, which are affected both by the country's laws and those of the European Union.
Navigating the French business landscape can be a difficult process if you are not prepared, with potential complications including higher employment costs, intricate labor laws, and a strict regulatory atmosphere.
Establishing a business in France as a non-EU resident can be time consuming, but it has become easier in recent years. In 2019, the government introduced the Law on Business Growth and Transformation (PACTE Law). This provides an electronic "one-stop shop" for setting up businesses that replaced the previous seven points of contact.
Inline image

What is the political climate like in France?

The political climate in France can be characterized as largely stable and predictable. This is partly because of the country's commitment to international cooperation, adherence of citizens to laws, and overall respect for democratic principles.
Despite this stability, there are some areas where businesses operating in France should be aware of potential risks.
The French government traditionally has a strong regulatory presence throughout the market, which can lead to bureaucracy and inefficiency.
Also, the "right to strike" is firmly entrenched in the country's constitution and there is no limit on this right. As striking is commonly accepted by French state workers as justifiable action, it remains an oft-used method for making voices heard and effecting change. It's important to be aware of this, as it almost certainly will affect your business in some way.
Overall, France is ranked as a low-risk market in most categories, including economic, business environment, political, and financing. However, it has a moderate level of commercial risk, partly because of tight labor markets and prolonged labor shortages.

5 keys to successful sales in France

What steps can you take to maximize your sales in the French market?
Here are 5 keys to successful sales in France:

1. Localize into the France French language

The first key is to use French as your primary language of communication.
If you are creating commercial advertisements, French is a legal requirement. However, even if you are only producing content for your own website, consumers expect content to be presented in the French language.

2. Recognize sales and buying differences

There is a different sales and buying culture in France than in, say, the United States.
French sales expert Jean-Pierre Tricard explains that US sales interactions are very direct. In France, it can take much longer for people to respond to a request and they dislike being pushed towards a conclusion.

3. Understand your buyers' decision making

French consumers are known to be very discerning. They favor French products and companies, with this being a core driver in their decision-making process.
This makes it especially important to localize your content for France.

4. Focus on quality, price, and service

The top factors that French consumers focus on when making purchases are quality, price, and after-sales service.
France is a highly competitive market, so try to offer the best quality for the lowest price possible.

5. Show your company's French side

The "Made in France" factor is a powerful driver for purchasing, with 86% of French consumers saying that a product's country of origin can convince them to buy it.
If you can, consider how your products and marketing could be made in France, at least in part, to benefit from this.
Inline image

Where to get further help on moving into France

Do you want to explore how you could grow your business into the French market?
Rubric is the perfect partner for any global company who is looking to expand into France. Our team of experts has extensive experience localizing content for the French market. We can help you make the move into this lucrative market by streamlining your localization processes.
Contact us today to find out more about our services and how we can help you with your transition into France.