International Business Strategies

Serving France Online During the 2016 Holiday Season

Our free report shares data-driven market intelligence and insights to help serve French consumers during the holidays—and into 2017.

Francesco Rocchi's avatar
Francesco Rocchi

November 04, 2016


Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a four-part series that provides companies with powerful insights and smart ways to engage online consumers in new markets during the holiday shopping season. Read part one here. Read part two here. Read part four here.

We’re highlighting holiday shopping in this post, but make sure to download the free accompanying France: Market Insights and Campaign Opportunities report via the sidebar below. This document reveals additional noteworthy holidays, and ways to best serve French consumers throughout 2017!

Now more than ever, ambitious brands and retailers are expanding their reach (and revenue streams!) by entering new global markets. And thanks to the Internet and powerful website translation platforms, that process has become pain-free, and quite affordable.

France represents one of the most attractive, expansion-worthy global markets—particularly during the holiday shopping season. Thanks to our operation of dozens of localized sites serving the continental French market, we’ve seen sales skyrocket during the holidays. For our largest e-commerce clients, these 60 days account for over 20% of yearly sales—or an average of 25% higher daily sales compared to the rest of the year.

That’s powerful stuff, and a windfall worth pursuing. Let’s take a closer look at France, and the marketing and sales opportunities Holiday 2016 represents for companies keen to “go global” with their business growth. You’ll also learn about our new (and free) France 2017 marketing calendar, and the powerful tips that await inside.

Examining the Opportunity

For expanding companies, France consistently ranks among the most attractive global markets to serve—particularly online. It represents the world’s sixth-largest economy (as measured by GDP), and the tenth-largest country in terms of Internet users. Our own MotionPoint Index™, which identifies the hottest expansion-worthy global markets, ranks France as No. 3 worldwide just behind the United States and Germany.

France’s e-commerce market is estimated at over 65 billion euros, or 6% of the country’s total retail sales. Those are compelling numbers, though perhaps not surprising, considering the country’s nearly 70 million residents, and its 82% Internet penetration rate.

Get Our Free Report

For savvy, growth-driven marketers, quantifying the opportunity transcends such stats as Internet penetration rates. Marketing professionals need actionable data and advice to maximize their company’s success in global markets. They need to understand local shopping habits and holidays.

This blog post should help with that. Below, you’ll discover best practices to serve French consumers online, during the Holiday 2016 shopping season. However, even more valuable intelligence awaits in our free France: Market Insights and Campaign Opportunities report. This document spotlights noteworthy 2017 holidays and sales events, and offers smart ways to serve French consumers in creative, authentic ways.

Download the free report via the sidebar.

Now, let’s bring our focus back to the Holiday 2016 shopping season, and how companies can savvily serve online French consumers in the weeks ahead.

Black Friday and Cyber Week

Black Friday and Cyber Week are all-American sales events, though they’ve grown in popularity in other markets in recent years. French retailers are adopting these bargain-driven events since seeing surges in traffic, sales and revenue. In fact, these back-to-back sales events generate important revenue peaks for French e-commerce sites. While Apple and Amazon have provided French e-shoppers with Black Friday and Cyber Week discounts for years, recent seasons have seen local players such as FNAC, Auchan and Darty get in on the action.

Our clients have seen powerful results, serving the French market with French-language websites during Black Friday. Sales generated on this day are generally between 100% and 230% higher than average. (This may not be as high as the 250% to 350% lifts we’ve seen with our UK-based clients, but still quite compelling considering Black Friday sales didn’t exist in France until a few years ago.)

We’ve seen retailers experience even higher sales in France during Cyber Week, thanks to extending sales and promotional campaigns throughout the week.

There’s still plenty of room for market newcomers, though. Since these sales events are relatively new to the market, French retailers aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunity. In fact, less than 25% of French e-commerce sites create specific promotions for Black Friday. This is lower than in nearby markets such as Spain (where 56% of retailers have created Black Friday promos) and Italy (at nearly 30%).

Discover more insights into Black Friday and Cyber Week by downloading our free France: Market Insights and Campaign Opportunities report via the sidebar.

Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany

The days around Christmas are, as expected, the most important time of the year for shopping. But France has some differences from other European markets, like the UK. First of all, there is no Boxing Day, so most gift buying occurs well before December 25.

In some of the northern and eastern regions of the country, the gift exchanges occur not on December 25, but on December 6—Saint Nicholas Day. Many consumers understandably make these holiday purchases well before December.

Fete de Rois, or the January 6 celebration of Epiphany, is another gift-giving day. While this holiday represents a major opportunity for retailers in other markets, the day is celebrated far more modestly in France. Mostly candies or other foods are exchanged, but it doesn’t often generate increases in revenue.

Similarly, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations provide ideal theme for local marketing campaigns, but don’t generate the season’s peak sales. That is reserved for winter Soldes.

Winter Soldes

This six-week winter sales period—or Soldes—is one of only two extended periods during the year when French retailers (and e-retailers) can sell products under their purchasing price. These sales focus mostly on apparel and accessories, and are usually aimed at emptying warehouses of winter products. Winter Soldes begins on January 11.

Soldes represents a major moneymaker for e-retailers. We’ve seen localized French e-commerce sites generate 350% lifts in winter Soldes revenue in a single day. Online Soldes sales can generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Nearly 80% of French consumers say they buy apparel during Soldes sales events, but only about 60% of e-shoppers will buy online during the same timeframe. This disparity represents a great opportunity for e-retailers to grow their businesses during Soldes through smart local marketing and discount pricing. About 55% of French consumers say they’d prefer to buy online during Soldes … if prices were lower.

Offering Soldes-level sales online—especially when combined with free or low-cost shipping, to achieve parity with brick-and-mortar stores—is a great way to compete.

Wrapping Up

We hope you’ve found value in these ways to best-serve French consumers during Holiday 2016. However, for marketers who crave more market insights, this blog post represents the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Discover many more holidays—and ways to authentically engage French consumers in 2017 with in-language, in-market campaigns—via the sidebar above. Sign up to receive the free France: Market Insights and Campaign Opportunities report. You’ll get a document packed with useful tactics for serving French consumers online.

And be sure to contact us with further questions about the continental French market, or other global markets your business way want to serve. We can help you identify ways to communicate effectively, and authentically, with new customers around the world.

Last updated on November 04, 2016
Francesco Rocchi's avatar

About Francesco Rocchi

Francesco Rocchi is a Global Online Strategist with expertise in strategy and analysis. His marketing and consulting experience extends to collaborating with such companies as Procter & Gamble, The Boston Consulting Group, Amazon and Enel Energia. Francesco has an MBA from the University of Michigan (+CEIBS in Shanghai), and an MS in Marketing and BBA from Sapienza University in Rome. He helps MotionPoint clients by applying analytical insights to solve their larger strategic problems.

Francesco Rocchi's avatar
Francesco Rocchi

Global Online Strategist


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