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American vs French brand culture at TFWA Cannes

côte d'azur | …news & info

31 October 2014

This year 30th edition of Duty Free & Travel Retail Global Summit (TFWA) at Cannes is a mix of brands mostly on the duty free market from fashion, beauty, entertainment. The exhibition is the perfect tool to reunite duty free and travel marketers for business development, networking, ideas-sharing.

For the Conferences, for this edition they were invited speakers like Lord Sebastien Coe, multiple Olympic gold medallist, Willie Walsh who formed International Airlines Group, John Gerzema, writer and consultant etc.  

While being there, among the brands that represent the industry, one thing hit me: how different are the market cultures within the same space! Let`s take the American culture and the French culture! They are so opposite! The concept expands to all its areas including fashion and beauty.

And this can be seen by the way the brands` representatives introduce you to their products, how they treat you as a journalist or visitor, if they offer you a testing sample or a little gift to thank you or just to please you.

It is not the first time that the American brands know how to be familiar and warm, how to be fun and present their brand with smile and open minded attitude. I haven`t seen a stiff American not once in all my journalistic explorations! On the contrary, when it comes to the French culture, sorry to say it, some of the brands have a rigid culture and attitude, treat you as a flee and look at you sometimes like you`re some kind of impostor. At TFWA I did not even got the time to talk about the brand and its new products because the staff was too busy re-arranging the decoration just to take a lousy photo. After all this waiting, the staff was too busy talking to some other people without saying a word about the brand they are working for. I am not saying which brand it is, a well known beauty French brand, anyway! Is it superficiality, lack of professionalism? Maybe! It is a pity that some people that represent the French brands don`t have a open mind culture and a more human approach to it. It is a pity as France is the most beautiful country in the world and the essence of fashion and beauty. France has the charm! Unfortunately, not the human approach culture!

On the other side, I have been conquered by the American feeling, the smiles, the connection that links between the persons they are talking. And this is the point, I guess: we have to talk more as from one person to another, not from brands to brands. And the Americans know how to do this and they conquer with their natural way of being. The Americans know how to have a win to win attitude. And this sells!

That is the difference between connecting, presenting, selling. And a journalist is the perfect vehicle to make the brand known. So, for some French staff they need to learn how to be more flexible, have a more welcoming culture, attract you towards their brand and be more human. We do not need stiff staff in the fashion and beauty area. This is a field filled with creativity and we need more people like this!

Editor Andra Oprea