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From Paris with Nostalgia

September 2011

By Stephanie Wells, Paris

Parisian shoppers traditionally turn to brands tried and true. Amongst a host of mass-produced lines, three are sure to win over harried Parisians: the gourmet chocolatier Fauchon, body care specialists Le Petit Marseillais, and Lacoste’s grinning crocodile.

Fauchon has mastered elegant yet eye-popping branding à la parisienne. Renowned for its glittering array of super premium chocolates and gourmandises, Fauchon has held court in its trademark black and pink packaging on the Place de la Madeleine since 1886.

Slightly down-market, the soap and shower line Le Petit Marseillais capitalizes on the famous products from the southern city of Marseille. An adorable young boy in a sailor’s cap is stamped onto colorful bath gels, soaps, hair and skincare products that are staples in French supermarkets. Shoppers unfailingly find two dedicated shelves, if not a wall, of sunshine-inflected products to prolong their summer vacation memories.

The French Open invariably becomes a catwalk and Andy Roddick is taking tennis fashion off the court. Lacoste’s knit tees, debuted by René Lacoste, aka “Le Crocodile”, in the 1920s, surged to preppy popularity during the 1980s thanks to its posh image and reputation for high quality sportswear. Signing on Roddick and inviting itself to New York Fashion Week in September 2011 are milestones helping Lacoste cross the Atlantic and reinvent itself yet again.

What can be drawn from these success stories? Building credibility over time, in addition to superior quality products, are key to the strength and success of a French brand; authenticity trumps novelty in the French marketplace. Innovation is fine and dandy, but it had better come from a brand that the everyday Parisian recognizes in order to sell—and stand the test of time.

Design & Luxury
Food & Drink

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