AR in France has five differences

Julie Desbenoit and I have identified five key differences about analyst relations in France. Julie’s been helping my colleagues Oscar, Emma and Elisa, who are working on a new Kea Company service to help analyst relations managers. Julie and I have been speaking with AR professionals in France and these are the findings we both came to.

  1. Companies need to speak French to be understood by analysts and by customers in France. French companies are attached to the habit of working in French. One powerful way to improve the confidence of each side of a business relationship in France is to speak the language of the country. Trusted relationships also depend on understanding the local realities. French companies need to be confident that individual analysts have a good understanding of the French market if they are to be sure that she or he has good skills.  The French market is relatively formalised and buying choices require a lot of data. An analyst has to show that they have more granular data to hand if they are to be taken seriously by buyers. Much of that is about the
  2. French companies have to be sure that individual analysts have a good understanding of the French market if they are to be sure that she or he has good skills.  The French market is relatively formalised and buying choices require a lot of data. An analyst has to show that they have more granular data to hand if they are to be taken seriously by buyers. Much of that is about the credibility of individuals rather than of companies. French companies choose individual analysts on the basis of their personal credibility unlike businesses in the English-speaking countries where a consulting firm might be hired without knowing in advance the staff who will work on the project. Unlike firms in developing countries that might want to take best practises from the USA or Germany, for example, many French companies look for solutions that have been proven in France and have no confidence that solutions successful elsewhere will be similarly successful in their country. Furthermore, while analysts’ customers in many countries might be unconcerned about where the analyst is from or where they are based,  an unusually strong trait of French managers is to test whether the people they hire are good, rather than trusting references. Since these managers often cannot be an expert in the domain of the analyst, testing the analysts understanding of their national market is a crucial test of their knowledge.
  3. The most noticeable national difference is perhaps between French AR and that in the US. The way that analysts see the needs of customers and companies are quite different. The way French businesses work and their expectations are also different. Because of that, AR has to give different information, in different ways, and to a very different level of depth. It cannot reuse English-language materials in the same way. Global case studies, especially of US brands, are not as highly valued.
  4. The needs of French companies are rather more similar to those of other western European countries than they are in the USA. France might be an extreme example: indeed, German managers might speak English better than French ones, but to some degree we can say that the mainland European countries are broadly similar.
  5. Finally, the French AR community is less of a community. There are over 100 analyst relations people in France but most of they are not actively in communication with those in other firms. There’s more protection of information inside the company, and little encouragement by senior marketers for their specialists to speak to peers in other businesses. That increases information asymmetry and increases the supplier power of the analysts firms when they sell to French vendors.
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