• GDP nominal: 2,829 billion USD
  • Unemployment rate: 9.9%
  • Population: 66 million
  • Ease-of-doing-business rank: 27th

France has the world's 6th largest economy by nominal figures and the 3rd largest economy in Europe with Germany and the UK in 1st and 2nd place.

France's economy entered the recession of the late 2000s later and appeared to leave it earlier than most affected economies, only enduring four-quarters of contraction. However, France experienced stagnant growth between 2012 and 2014, with the economy expanding by 0% in 2012, 0.8% in 2013 and 0.2% in 2014, though growth picked up in 2015 with a growth of 1.2% and a forecasted growth of 1.5% for 2016, and 1.7% for 2017. The highest since 2011 (2.1%).

With 31 of the 500 biggest companies in the world in 2015, France ranks 4th in the Fortune Global 500, behind U.S., China and Japan. Several French corporations rank amongst the largest in their industries such as AXA Insurance and Air France in air transportation. Luxury and consumer goods are particularly relevant, with L’Oréal being the world's largest cosmetic company while LVMH and Kering are the world's two largest luxury product companies.


Direct Selling in France

  • GDP Growth Constant Local Currency 2014: 0.2%
  • YoY Industry Growth Constant USD 2014: 0.0%

France is the 8th largest Direct Selling market in the world with 5.3B USD in revenue in 2014.

France is a high potential market but the channel needs to accelerate its modernization in order to grow at a similar pace with other European countries such as the UK and Germany. France is currently the 3rd largest economy in Europe, overtaken by the UK in 2014 but remains the 2nd largest Direct Selling market after Germany.

France is comparable in terms of revenue to Malaysia and the UK in terms of the number of distributors but the dynamics of the French market are unique:

U.S. based Multi-level marketing companies have prominent market share in the UK but in France, with the exception of one American Party-plan company and one German Door-to-door sales company having historical presence in the sector, local Single-level marketing companies represent the overwhelming majority of the Direct Selling companies. Furthermore, the biggest product category in France is Home Improvement, which is an alternative to services provided by local artisans.

France has 2 companies in the European Direct Selling top 10 (respectively #9 and #10) and they both belong to the Home Improvement category, unfortunately, #10 bankrupted in 2013.

Given the nature of the products and services provided, the amounts spent in this category are considerably higher than in others such as Wellness or Cosmetics, which allowed the French Direct Selling market to keep its #2 position in Europe, in terms of revenue. However, the UK (#3) is a fast growing, modern market where Direct Selling has become mainstream and trendy, offering a large range of innovative products and concepts attracting people of all backgrounds and ages.

A reason for the slow advancement of the Direct Selling industry in France is due to the fact that it is a very hard market to penetrate for the Cosmetics and Skin Care international Direct Selling companies given the presence of traditional world class French Cosmetics and Fragrance retailers. (The industry #2, which has a strong presence in the UK, Germany as well as West/East Europe and Russia has pulled out of France in 2013 after 12 years and never managed to take more than 0.2% of the Cosmetics market share).

Stagnant economic conditions characterized by high-unemployment, particularly among the youth (25%) coupled with entrepreneurial spirit will encourage more and more people to seek an alternate source of additional, or even primary income. The recent years have seen already an increase of innovative ideas, companies, and products in the industry. The French DSA, Federation de la Vente Directe (FVD) established in 1966, is doing excellent work in promoting the industry, protecting the more than a half a million professionals as well as modernizing the channel by providing training and Direct Sales certificates to distributors.

The WFDSA, FVD and University of Paris East have launched a three-year Professional Bachelor’s degree named “Marketing and Management of Direct Selling Companies” which is a unique initiative in Europe.

As more and more French have become health conscious and are expressing interest towards healthy, natural foods, and supplements, one path the future of Direct Sales in France could take is by attracting international Multi-level marketing companies providing high-quality supplements and wellness products. Changing the old image of Direct Selling parties into something contemporary via the arrival of new concepts is also a priority.

Sources: ASENSHIA, World Bank, WFDSA, Euromonitor, Wikipedia

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