Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the French market

France will be Ireland’s closest geographical neighbour in the European Union after Brexit. As both countries are members of the EU, trade between France and Ireland is greatly facilitated by a common currency, free movement of goods and services, and regulatory alignment.

France is the world’s 7th largest economy and home to many internationally renowned businesses, from telecommunications giant Orange, to international pioneer in aerospace Airbus, and leaders in luxury consumer goods like the LVMH group.   For Irish businesses with the ambition to go global, the French market boasts many opportunities- if you follow our top tips!  

 

  • Build trust

It is important to remember that when approaching a French partner or buyer, you are completely unknown. Reassuring your targets that you are serious and that you have valuable ways to fill gaps and solve their problems should be your number one priority. Approaching your targets in the correct way i.e. through being introduced through other contacts or EI Market Advisors and having a strong value proposition and case studies prepared in advance is key to appearing credible to a potential customer.

Gaining the trust of your customers means you will also receive it. It is often said that the French are reluctant to break their supply chains for new products and services and disrupt existing relationships, which presents a hurdle to Irish businesses entering the market. However, once you do secure a French customer and gain their trust, you will find them to be very loyal. Going forward, they will tend to work with you to resolve issues rather than go straight to your rival.

 

  • A strong value proposition is vital.

This reluctance to change suppliers means that ‘me too’ products are unlikely to succeed in the market. Before approaching decision-makers, it is vital to have done extensive research and competitor analysis and have a strong value proposition for your product. Remember that in France, improvements on products or processes are not enough to be considered innovative. The French tend to look for new ways of doing things, or entirely new approaches, to consider something an ‘innovation’.

 

  • Know your customer

Carrying out extensive market research through Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre and by talking to the Market Advisors is vital before approaching any potential prospects.  As well as validating the market opportunity for your value proposition, this will help you identify the best targets (for example, French businesses in France rather than multinational firms in France that do not have power over buying decisions), and the correct people to target within organisations.

French business culture is very hierarchical and understanding the organizational structure of the types of companies you wish to target is also very important. There may be several people to go through before reaching the Purchasing Manager or Director of Procurement. Don’t eliminate anyone as not being influential in the purchasing process, however, the final decisions will be made at the top level.

 

  • Pay attention to detail.

France loves detail. French buyers will expect to see great attention to detail both in your product and service offering and in the way you do business. Small mistakes are a big deal and could cost you a sale.

Getting your product or service to market in France will require lots of work in terms of compliance, respecting regulation and red tape. While these might sound like barriers to entry, they are there to establish and protect quality. In fact, they ensure a level playing field amongst all competitors.

 

  • Don’t (always) take no for an answer.

When doing business in France, one of the most common words heard in meetings will be “Non”. This is not a negative but the first step on the road to “Oui”. “Non” forms the basis of a discussion with your intended partner or client that will deal heavily with specifics and navigating French regulatory compliance. In France, an argument is usually the precursor to a discussion.

Therefore, it is so important to have a strong value proposition and understanding of why your product is the best one for the buyer, before entering discussions.  

 

  • French language skills.

While many French businesspeople have excellent English, communicating in French is preferred and having a native French speaker sends a very strong signal of your intent. Hire an interpreter for your initial meetings in the French market. Make the effort to have marketing and web material accurately translated, preferably by a native French speaker. It is also very important to be cognizant and respectful of your use of language with potential customers- always use formal language and never address anyone using their first name unless invited.

The only exception to this rule is in the Digital Technologies sector, where most business is conducted through English.

 

  • Be patient.

If you intend to do business in France, you must be patient. Deals take time, partnerships need to be nurtured, and even the most routine meetings need to be set up well in advance. Rushing things will be perceived poorly in France. 

French business culture takes time because of its approach to detail, and the value it places on evidence-based decision making. This patience pays off, as once a decision is made, it is usually not revisited.

If you are considering doing business in France be sure to reach out to our teams in Paris and Lyon and read our Going Global Guide for more information.

 

If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

Key questions to ask at your Swiss Market Advisor meeting

The Swiss market is attractive to Irish exporters for numerous reasons, including its high purchasing power and good payment habits.

If you are considering doing business in Switzerland, your first step should be a call with our dedicated team. 

  • What is the awareness of Ireland in Switzerland?
  • What are the core sectors and what sectors should I avoid?
  • Will I need a local partner company?
  • What kind of obstacles should I expect when entering the Swiss market?
  • What local competitors are active in Switzerland?
  • What taxes, charges or hidden costs should I be aware of?
  • Are there any social/political instabilities in Switzerland that could affect my business here?
  • Are there any environmental instabilities in Switzerland that could affect my business here?
  • What social norms should I be cognizant of when engaging in meetings with local people?
  • Will I need to set up an office in Switzerland?
  • Will I need to hire local staff?
  • Can I relocate Irish staff to Switzerland?

Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have industry experts on hand, ready to help you access the Swiss market.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

For more, download our Going Global Guide

Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Swiss market can be viewed by clicking the graphic below.

Key questions to ask at your Canadian Market Advisor meeting

Canada is an affluent, high-tech industrial society with a market-oriented economy, low inflation and high living standards and has recently strengthened its close trading relationship with Ireland.

If you are considering doing business in Canada, your first step should be a call with our team in Toronto.

    The questions below were designed to help Irish businesses get the best out of their first Market Advisor call

    • What should I be aware of as I start to think about exporting to Canada?
    • Do I need to localise my products or services for Canada in any way?
    • Are there any differences between Canada and the USA market?
    • Is there a trade deal or are there any trading barriers I should be aware of?
    • Do I need a local presence and is it easy to establish one?

    Set up a call with our team in Toronto today and also check out our Going Global Guide.

     

    Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Canadian market can be viewed by clicking the graphic below.

    Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Canadian market

    Canada is the tenth-largest economy in the world and Ireland’s 7th biggest trade partner outside the EU

    If you are considering doing business in Canada, please be sure to reach out to our team in Toronto.

    • Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world with 10 Provinces and 3 Territories – companies approaching the market often have to think region by region in sourcing distribution, identifying partners, winning customers and setting-up beachhead sales operations.
    • Canada is officially a bilingual country which means many products and services must offer English and French to participate in procurement or Request for Proposal processes – for example, there are strict bilingual labelling requirements across Canada and which are not just confined to French-speaking Quebec.
    • While Canada is often seen as an excellent proving ground and valuable reference site for the wider North America market, it is crucial to display knowledge and responsiveness to the distinct needs of Canadian customers, local regulatory requirements and differences in business practice, something which applies to the complex, multi-stakeholder buying processes we see in the Healthcare and Telco sectors.
    • The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a trade deal between Canada and the EU which reduces friction for Irish companies doing business in Canada – 99% of tariffs no longer apply for physical goods which is a real cost saving for the apparel, engineering and construction sectors among others.
    • Canadians prefer to work with a company that has already established a presence in the market. The importance of demonstrating local presence can be an important way to gain trust and to reassure potential customers of the availability of your on-going support. Canada is a welcoming country when it comes to entrepreneurs, investors, and talent, including from Ireland, and is, as a result, attracting significant business to tech hubs such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

    Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have experts on hand, ready to help you access the Canadian market.

    Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

    For more, download our Going Global Guide

    If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

    Key questions to ask at your Vietnamese Market Advisor meeting

    Successfully selling into the Vietnamese market earns you credibility internationally and can be a gateway to many other overseas markets.

    If you are considering doing business in Vietnam, your first step should be a call with our team in Vietnam.

      The questions below were designed to help Irish businesses get the best out of their first Market Advisor call

      • How does the market look like for my products/services?
      • Is there a demand for my products/services?
      • Who are the key players existing in the market? Competitor analysis?
      • What is the usual route to export to Vietnam?
      • What is the business culture like in Vietnam?

      Set up a call with our dedicated team today, and be sure to check out the Going Global Guide 

       

      Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Vietnamese market can be viewed by clicking the graphic below.

      Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Japanese market

      The Japanese market is a rewarding one for products and services, with ample opportunities for export-ready Irish firms.

      If you are considering doing business in Japan, please be sure to explore our ten tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our team in Toyoko.

       

      • Japan is open to world-class innovation and technology from Irish companies that have a clear and validated market fit for Japan.
      • The starting point for Japan is good market research, which if positive, can be further validated by visiting or having representation on the ground.
      • Irish companies that can offer innovative niche solutions coupled with a very customised and committed approach tend to succeed.
      • Digital, Fintech/Financial Services, Life Sciences, Renewable Energy and Industrial Applications are broad areas with growth potential.
      • A high level of patient care combined with the growing elderly population makes Japan an attractive end-market for medical device companies particularly those with strong diagnostic or finished device offerings.
      • Major policy changes in Japan’s financial sector, along with the heretofore strong growth in inbound tourism, has opened doors for Irish Fintech payment companies.
      • A push towards renewable energy sources along with the Japanese Government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme, provides opportunities for innovative offerings in the energy sector.
      • Business decisions in Japan generally take much longer than Irish businesspeople are used to.
      • It is important to visit Japan regularly in the initial stages to build an understanding of the market.
      • Depending on the nature of the business, aiming for in-market representation in the longer-term tends to be a key success fact.
      • Japan is a demanding market for Irish exporters but one that offers the twin rewards of market scale and customer loyalty.

      Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have industry experts on hand, ready to help you access the Japanese market.

      Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

      For more, download our going global guide

      If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

      Key questions to ask at your Japanese Market Advisor meeting

      Japan is an affluent, vibrant economy with opportunities for Irish businesses across a range of sectors.

      If you are considering doing business in Japan, your first step should be a call with our team in Tokyo.

        The questions below were designed to help Irish businesses get the best out of their first Market Advisor call

        • What is the business environment like in Japan?
        • Where can I conduct research on the niche I am operating in?
        • What are the experiences of other Irish companies exporting to Japan?
        • What is the typical route to market?
        • Will I need a local partner company?
        • What kind of obstacles should I expect when entering this market?
        • What local competitors are active in this market?
        • What taxes or costs of entry should I be aware of?
        • What is the regulatory environment like for my offering?

        Set up a call with our team in Japan today 

         

        Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Japanese market can be viewed by clicking the graphic below.

        Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Swiss market

        The Swiss market is attractive to Irish exporters for numerous reasons, including its high purchasing power and good payment habits.

        If you are considering doing business in Switzerland, please be sure to explore our ten tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our dedicated team. 

        • Expect 18-24 months timeline for market penetration in this region
        • Familiarise yourself with the various cultures and languages in Switzerland. With some regions speaking either German, French or Italian. The business culture and etiquette also differs between said regions, which should influence your approach.
        • Speaking English is usually not a problem for the Swiss, however, having technical materials available in the local language is very important.
        • Switzerland is a federal country of 26 cantons. Legal regulations, taxes and other differences may occur between different states and this must be accounted for when planning business there.
        • The Swiss are early adopters of innovative products and services. However, expect to be thoroughly vetted and asked to provide proof of any claims you make.
        • Switzerland is not an EU-member but very closely aligned with the EU. It also has it’s own currency, the Swiss franc, which will have an exchange rate against the euro.
        • The Swiss are long-term planners and as such a commitment to the market goes a long way. This may be in the form of a local GmbH entity, a .ch web address available in local languages or regular attendance at trade fairs in your sector of interest.
        • Switzerland is a very-high income country, known for its quality of exports and as such are more likely to choose high-price and sophisticated suppliers as opposed to the cheapest.
        • Switzerland is home to many multinationals’ European Headquarters, particularly in the Life Sciences and Banking sectors.
        • Many Irish firms are already active in Switzerland thanks to EI assistance, contact the local Manager who will be delighted to guide you in entering the Swiss market.

        Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have industry experts on hand, ready to help you access the Swiss market.

        Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

        For more, download our Going Global Guide

        If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

        Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Indian market

        India has become the fastest-growing major economy in the world, recording an impressive 6.75% growth in GDP in 2017-2018.

        If you are considering doing business in India, please be sure to explore our ten tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our team in New Delhi.

         

        • Find the right partner – Identifying the right partner goes a long way in successfully navigating the complexities of the local business environment for a new entrant. A local partner can provide much-needed assistance in understanding the Indian market. This partner can give you valuable market insights on competition, regulation and other important issues. They can also introduce you to the network with the reach to target prospective clients without much investment on the ground.

         

        • Enter the market with a long-term perspective – India is certainly not a place for businesses to make quick gains – you need to be invested for the long haul. Although it’s a huge market with a population of 1.3 billion people, including 400 million middle-class consumers, it has its share of challenges when it comes to market entry. Because India is such a huge and attractive opportunity, there is no dearth of competition. Additionally, given the complexity of the market, it takes time for the companies to understand the environment and develop the right strategy. On average it takes international companies nearly 3 years to successfully penetrate the market.

         

        • Prepare yourself for a challenging legal regulatory landscape – India is ranked 63 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The rank of India improved to 63 in 2019 from 77 in 2018. There have been considerable changes in Indian legal & regulatory laws making operations in India easier, however, it’s important to engage local knowledge and professional services to guide you through the legal, financial, bureaucratic, and cultural complexities.

         

        • Invest in a senior-level/experienced local representative – India is a relationship & service-oriented market, meeting in person is very important in the region & essential for winning sales. Hiring an experienced business development manager from the industry has proven to be successful for many Enterprise Ireland clients across industries. The local employee can effectively build relationships with Buyers, Distributors & actively participate in promotional activities.

         

        • Indian businesses are often hierarchical in nature – Decisions are generally made at the highest of levels. Therefore, unless the company director, owner or a very senior manager is present at a meeting, a decision is not likely to occur at that stage.

         

        • Localise the product – India is a very diverse market and, therefore, it is hard to categorise the Indian buyer. Indian consumers are not only looking for the availability of products, they also want a better experience, services and ambience. Global brands have seen tremendous successes in India by localising their brand, product and/or services to meet the needs of the Indian consumer base.

         

        • Price sensitive & value-conscious market – The Indian consumer is very ‘value-conscious’, evaluating benefits and quality vis-à-vis price. Until recently, price was the most important determinant of a purchase, given the low disposable income of most Indian households. But with the India growth story, there has been an evolution in what defines ‘value’ for Indian consumers. The key trigger for this shift has been the exposure to modern lifestyle through media and travel, giving them a perspective on various products and possible benefits.

         

        • Vast geography & diverse culture – There are many Indias within India. India is a multilingual, multi-ethnic and pluralistic society, and vast cultural differences can be seen between North and South India. Additionally, India is a vast country, it often takes multiple sales partner/distributors in different regions to affectively cover the market.

         

        • Meeting in person is very important in this region and there are a range of social norms you should know about – dress formally, a handshake is a standard way to greet men & women, carry a business card & address people by a title and their last name.

         

        Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have industry experts on hand, ready to help you access the Indian market. Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

        For more, download our Going Global Guide

        If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

        Key questions to ask at your Indian Market Advisor meeting

        Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious Irish companies seeking opportunities in a range of sectors within India.

        If you are considering doing business in India, your first step should be a call with our team in New Delhi.

          The questions below were designed to help Irish businesses get the best out of their first Market Advisor call.

          Our regional Market Advisors work closely with clients to win business in India. Some of the key activities include gathering market intelligence, partner search, introductions to industry influences, pathfinders and third-party service providers, as well as PR and media engagements, organising high-level networking events and facilitating meetings with potential buyers.  

              • What is the size of the market?
              • Who are the leading players/competitors and what is their market share?
              • How does the supply chain/distributions/procurement process of the product/service work in India?
              • What are the leading market trends and consumer behaviour in the sector?
              • Are there any legal requirements for selling the product/service in India? Or any accreditation required from the government bodies?
              • Do I need a local partner?
              • If yes, what is the process of finding a trusted suitable partner in the industry?
              • Do I need to hire local staff?
              • Do I need to make any modifications or changes to the product or service to better suit the Indian market?
              • What are some of the major events/trade shows to attend in the market?
              • Do I need to set up an office in the region? If yes, what is the preferred structure?
              • What is the awareness of Ireland in the region?
              • What kind of obstacles should I expect when entering this market?
              • What taxes, charges or hidden costs should I be aware of?
              • Are there any social/political instabilities in this region that could affect my business here?
              • Are there any environmental instabilities in this region that could affect my business here?
              • What social norms should I be cognizant of when engaging in meetings with local people?

          Set up a call with our Indian team today  and be sure to check out our Going Global Guide 

          Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the German market can be viewed by clicking the graphic below.

          Key questions to ask at your Belgian or Luxembourgian Market Advisor meeting

          This is an open discussion between you and one of our trusted Market Advisers, to discuss your business and the export opportunities that lie for you in the region. Below are some suggestions of questions to ask your MA, to learn more about the Belgian and Luxembourgian markets, and the supports we can offer you.

          • What resources do you need? Enterprise Ireland can help entrepreneurs and businesses to scale and reach their potential, let it be from funding support, market insights, or finding the right contacts through international networks. Ask your MA what they can do to help you scale your business and enter the market prepared, confident and supported.
          • What are the opportunities in the market for your business? Ask your MA which opportunities lie within your sector, and how best to leverage these growth opportunities for your business.
          • What should the next steps be? Discuss forming a plan towards global exporting – have an open discussion and together plan objectives, goals and discuss what time frames to expect. Next steps may include further market research and discovery, funding applications or buyer introductions.

          Set up a call with our team in Brussels today

          For more be sure to read our Belgium Going Global Guide  and our Going Global Guide Luxembourg 

          Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Belgian and Luxembourgian market can be viewed by clicking the graphic below.

          Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Luxembourgish and Belgian markets

          The Benelux markets comprise the countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Although small in area, the region’s combined population of almost 30 million people presents three prosperous markets in their own right, and a huge opportunity to develop exports further into mainland Europe.

          The Enterprise Ireland Belgium and Luxembourg team are here to help you prepare, launch and succeed in your export activities. We are eager to share the expertise and network gained from studying, working and living in the market. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of dedicated Market Advisors to help you with your export strategy.

           Belgium market tips 

          Belgium truly is the heart of Europe and has proven itself to be a hub of international business and networking, a large market in its own right, and also a great test market for companies with the ambition to grow and scale in the wider European region.

          • Navigating the languages. As a result of its history, Belgium is broken into 3 different regions: Flanders, Wallonia the Brussels-Capital. In turn, it has three official languages: Dutch, French and German, but most speak English. It is important to understand these differences, as the business culture is different per region.
          • In terms of business culture, it’s best to play it safe, so arrive on time and dressed your best. Business culture in Flanders mirrors that of the German or Dutch working culture as Belgian-French business culture is similar to that of France. In general, the culture is kept formal and meetings are structured to maximise productivity.
          • Belgium is a European leader in logistics and distributions; driven by its strategic location and strong cluster of ports, with the port of Antwerp being very noteworthy. With 95 % of Europe’s consumer market reachable within 24 hours.
          • Decide on a route to market: Networks are important, and it is advantageous to sell to a distributor that will resell directly into Belgium, as you can explore new potential leads and clients.
          • Get involved locally: Belgian companies are open to meeting with international sellers, and although not obligatory, a local representative is advised to facilitate a smoother entry strategy. We can recommend trusted pathfinders or sales consultants to help you along your way.
          • Trust the Process: Belgium is a great test market for businesses looking to dive into the Eurozone. Most often than not, a successful launch in Belgium leads to success in other EU markets. Make sure to leverage the multi-cultural and skilled workforce, these new perspectives are sure to benefit your product or service.
          • Understand that the tax system in Belgium is quite attractive SMEs, and they have seen a decrease in their corporate tax rate to 20% during 2018 for the first 100,000 of taxable income Better yet, these reforms helped reduce labour costs too.
          • Be prepared and know your competition: This is a highly competitive and diverse landscape, with many international and national players. Make sure to fine-tune your USP so your product or service can really stand out from the rest.
          • Be Innovative: Belgium is ranked 8th in the world on the 2018 European Innovation Scoreboard, making it more open to change and willing to embrace new technologies something Ireland happens to be very good at producing.
          • Finally, do your research. Explore the different resources available from Enterprise Ireland to delve deep into the market and really understand the opportunities and challenges that will occur. Our world-class Market Research Centre provides countless market reports, and MA’s are happy to help with market-related requests.

          For more be sure to read our Belgium Going Global Guide 

          Luxembourg market tips 

          Luxembourg may be one of the smallest EU countries, but has become world leader in finance and administration, hosting 3,900 investment funds and fostering new opportunities for SME’s.

          • There are three national languages, which are Luxembourgish, French and German. However, English is widely used in business contexts and a translator will not always be necessary.
          • Luxembourg is number 2 in the world in terms of global logistical capabilities and is strategically located in the heart of the greater region. Take advantage of this, and make sure not to rule it out as part of a European export strategy.
          • Decide on a route to market: A sales consultant can be attractive in Luxembourg, as they assist with generating leads and gaining certifications. We can put you in touch with trusted agents who can help accelerate your business.
          • Get involved locally: As a country heavily reliant on exports itself, Luxembourg is home to businesses which are open to being approached by international companies so take a pragmatic approach.
          • Trust the Process: Luxembourg is a global destination, not just for the financial sector, but has also developed high-value industries such as logistics, biotechnology, information technology and green technology. These factors make it a good test market.
          • Understand the tax incentives Luxembourg has put in place, aimed towards stimulating innovation and support SME’s.
          • Be prepared and know your competition: Luxembourg is home to many multi-national and EU headquarters, as well as fostering a growing number of SME’s. The financial sector particularly is quite competitive, but there are plenty of opportunities in other sectors.
          • Be innovative: With a Government that makes innovation in all industries a priority, make sure to showcase your dynamic new ideas, they will be welcomed and supported.

          Finally, do your research! Explore the different resources available from Enterprise Ireland to delve deep into the market and really understand the opportunities and challenges that will arise. Our world-class Market Research Centre provides countless market reports, and MA’s are happy to help with market-related requests.

          For more be sure to check out our Going Global Guide Luxembourg 

          If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below