There’s more to localizing for the French audiences than meets the eye and a preliminary step to avoid a faux pas when entering the French market is to research and try to adhere to the strict laws and linguistic uniqueness of French-speaking audiences, as opposed to the other standard international ones. This can be achieved through style guides, industry-specific glossaries, and specialized linguistic subject matter experts who can adapt and implement the communication style of the target audience.
According to a Harvard Business Review article presenting the results of a Common Sense Advisory survey conducted on a sample of 2,430 web consumers in eight countries: 72.4% of consumers said they are more inclined to purchase a product with information in their own language, while 56.2% of consumers mentioned that having direct access to information in their own language or desired tone of voice is more important than price even.
The French market is no different, as across-the-board content localization should be top of mind when preparing to enter the market and meet the wants and needs of French audiences. Ensuring a native experience and maintaining a local presence by expressing pricing and payment methods in local terminology, both online and offline, is also a key element that distinguishes businesses trying to adapt to the French market.
Additionally, France is well-known for adhering to rigorous laws and regulations, specifically relating to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which must comply with the 1978 Act – La Loi Informatique et Libertés, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés emitted in 2019. When localizing your business content to adhere to French local regulations, extra attention must be paid to regulatory alignment within the local linguistic and legal framework.
Hitting the right tone of voice is also of paramount importance, as in France the level of formality and etiquette in communication is very high compared to other European countries. Websites, e-commerce, and other business-related content must adhere to a cordial mode of communication, using a formal or neutral form of address. One might argue that this rule fades when considering playful marketing campaigns, however even in as flexible and creative an industry as marketing, one should not assume that French people will not be sensitive to certain over-the-top, witty marketing lingo that tests the limits of what is considered sensible in the francophone sphere.