The manufacturing of the French beret is in the hands of a 174 year old company, Laulhère. Recently Laulhère purchased its sole French competitor, Blanq – Olibet, with a view to keeping beret production in France. However, international competitors from countries such as China, Pakistan, India and the Czech Republic are casting a shadow over French production by offering lower priced berets.
Laulhère’s willingness to save the French beret industry has been welcomed by the heart of the current government. Over the last few months, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Minister of “Productive Revival” Arnaud Montebourg, have both encouraged the manufacture of “Made in France” products to improve French production and create local jobs.
One wonders, however, whether the “Made in France” designation is the most appropriate one. Whilst it is clear that the “Made in Switzerland” designation makes sense in relation to watch manufacturing given the extraordinary reputation of Switzerland in that respect, it is not clear that French production enjoys the same reputational status.
Thus, why not explore the slogan “Designed in France” rather than “Made in France”? This is the choice made by US company Apple as its products are not manufactured in the US. Only its design and related activities are US based. Similarly, French products are renowned worldwide, not for their manufacturing but rather for their design and their own distinctive style.
Such a designation could constitute a real competitive advantage vis-à-vis international competitors and may create new jobs while adding value to French products. It is essential that countries pay close attention to their national brand identity as an instrument of economic policy.
To be continued…