research@hec - Issue #29 - (Page 2)
The Brand France,
a source of great appeal
Should France abandon manufacturing in favor of becoming a service economy? “Such a policy in key sectors would signal the loss of our sovereignty and would not solve our problems,” warns Jean-Noël Kapferer. His proposal: build a Brand France with strong and distinctive values, capable of catalyzing the sale of high-end products, services, and culture both at home and abroad.
Jean-Noël Kapferer is marketing professor at HEC Paris, where he holds the PernodRicard Luxury Brand Management chair. He also teaches in China, Seoul, Japan, and the United States. He has published 15 books and over 100 articles in American and European journals and is regularly consulted by major companies regarding their brand strategies.
“A strong brand is a major competitive advantage for both companies and countries,” says JeanNoël Kapferer. “While the Brand France can justify automobiles in the 100 price index, everyone thinks it is normal to pay 115 for a German car.” This difference allows the German industry to fund more R&D, quality controls, and to limit offshore production. To get the French economy back on its feet, it is time to manage its brand!
THE BRAND ANGLE A brand is not just a logo and a slogan. On the contrary, a brand is a multi-faceted symbol, of which products, services, and communication are the vectors. There is thus a strong need to first clearly define the brand and then to choose carefully the products that will, or will not, be associated with it. Brand is built over time, through customer experiences. This is a process that involves forward motion, which is even stronger for a country than for a product. Brand has real pull. Behind every product, there is a vision — a culture that attracts trade flows, be it economic or human. “This is even more true for a country, whose intangible characteristics are the symbolic source of its appeal,” explains Kapferer.
NATIONAL BRAND: AN IDEA TO BUILD TOGETHER A product can be designed in response to customer demand. A country cannot be modeled at will. To build a brand strategy for a country, you have to start with the offer. That means taking stock of geological, agricultural, historical, economic, human, symbolic, and imaginary resources, which form the national identity. As such, country marketing is similar to luxury marketing. Another difference between a product and a country is that “the country brand is built by everyone but managed by no one,” explains Kapferer. “The HRD of Michelin, for example, is a brand ambassador for Auvergne. She brings high-potential American executives to the French region by communicating Auvergne’s high quality of life.” In order to create value, country brand must be unifying and inclusive so that politicians, citizens, companies, and administrations can adhere to it. “The country brand is an inspirational catalyst," says Kapferer. “Its purpose is not “to do” but to function as an aegis.” BRAND FRANCE STRATEGY The first problem is that French industry operating globally does not, for the most part, promote the
• october-november 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of research@hec - Issue #29
Cover & Contents
The Brand France, a source of great appeal
Managerial incentives: Life-cycles and the influence of learning processes
Searching for new sources of innovation: The role of consumers
research@hec - Issue #29