Made in France Expo, an export marketing tool?
On the day when the second Made in France expo opens in Paris’ Porte de Versailles, and of course as Globeclic is a French registered company, I thought I would raise the profile of this somewhat unique trade fair designed to increase the awareness of not only the latest talent, products and services the Hexagon has to to offer, but also of the importance of showcasing the fact that yes, even when more and more businesses are outsourcing their production to cheaper manufacturing countries, some are choosing to continue to produce in the country where they are most likely to market to.
This is the second appearance of the Made in France (MIF) expo in the French capital. Largely initiated by the then newly elected government in 2012 and spear-headed by Minister for Industrial Renewal, or if you know French perhaps the title of Ministre du Redressement productif (literally production recovery), M. Arnaud Montebourg.
So what if these types of trade fairs become the norm as a strategy to raise awareness of locally manufactured goods to benefit a potential export trade?
Well, surprisingly there are not many examples around the world to match the MIF expo. Yes country pavilions provided by the state are quite common in industry or sector specific trade fairs from seafood to software. But some lower key independent exhibitions have similarly sprouted up such as the Hand Made in America expo in Boston, USA, where communities have come together to promote local artisan crafts to stimulate awareness and trade.
It seems that the Made in France expo model is perhaps less to do with exporting and more to do with national awareness of the importance of buying French by the French. Let me explain: First of all the majority of exhibitors at the expo has already achieved a certain degree of exposure and success in export markets. Take for example hand made object e-commerce site Alittlemarket. The Paris based company is represented around Europe, notably southern Europe, where consumers can purchase a wide selection of French hand crafted items from jewellery to homewares, all from the one web platform. This hand made, local shop around the corner service concept aims to offer an alternative to mass produced goods. Other export success stories such as Normandy electric folding bike manufacturer Mobiky and integrated mobile solutions providerNomadic Solutions also proudly display their respective established export stories. There is no doubt that the line up of exhibitors at this year’s Made in France expo present an impressive concentration of new ideas and talent across a wide spectrum of sectors.
Secondly, the communication for Made in France expo is, from the outset, solely through French. Press Releases and websites are only available in French. The only English reference is contained in the name….Made in France which from an international perspective may be a missed opportunity.
The problem, however, with such waving the flag “Made in My Country” events to a largely internal audience is two fold: One, exhibitions of this nature seem to occur during periods of economic gloom, and Two, when there is a period of recession there is a danger that the majority of consumers is overly conscious of one Marketing principle…..price. These are not two particularly conducive elements to attract new business from an indigenous base.
I would argue that successful businesses today are highly designed to think and act global and perhaps their consumers are firstly drawn to these products by their innovative qualities, originality and usability well before a country of origin label.
Of course some country of origin products use these exact variables to distinguish themselves from the rest. How often are we willing to pay a little more for Deutsche Qualität (German Quality) products based on the confidence and reputation we trust from German design and engineering? It was having this initial so to speak Gold seal standard put in place that we hear today the Made in Germany message. In other words, a Made in country label is really set and built up by consumers coupled with their product origin perceptions. It is up to the supplier, on the other hand, to see to that the values and pride that went into the conception and manufacture of the product are fully respected.
There is no doubt that the array of talent and product/service innovation displayed at this year’s Made in France expo can be applauded, I would, however, be slightly skeptical on the largely inward focused approach the expo takes to showcase these talented and successful companies.
Made in France expo continues to 11 November 2013. Admission is free by prior online registration or 10 euros at the door (reimbursed on the purchase of products from the exhibition stands). View the full list of exhibitors here.