The Olé French Festival this year is themed as "Summer in France", and French Market has been set up in the upper hills to provide consumers with good French niceness such as wine, beer, ham, bread, sausage, candy, jam, biscuits, chocolate, and cheese. Customers may not only enjoy music and dancing on opening day, but they can also sample French cuisine. They may also choose from a variety of presents, including gorgeous refrigerator magnets and shopping bags. This time, customers can enjoy the delicate French lifestyle without going abroad. Every consumer is believed to find French life's charm, making this summer romantic and extraordinary.
We’ve been told that this year is also the 15th year of the Olé French Festival. As a bridge between overseas products and Chinese consumers, Olé has enabled consumers to experience further high-quality and various global gourmet and wine and have a better knowledge of diversified international cultures and lifestyles by organizing food cultural promotion activities in many countries, including the French Festival, and cooperating with consulates and associations in different countries to bring every consumer a healthy, high quality and happy inspiration for a good life. As for the sales of French products in Olé, France is currently Olé's fourth largest importer, introducing a variety of goods covering cigars, wine, champagne, cod, chocolate, etc., of which French wine accounts for about 35%. During the 2022 French Festival, Olé actively cooperates with SOPEXA, bringing a series of French brands to consumers and organizing various forms of special events regularly, so that consumers can purchase many premium French goods.
French lifestyle can be fascinating, while French food, wine, and niceness are known for their high quality and exquisiteness, which are appreciated by all, making people yearn for the romantic country. During the French Festival, Timeout is honoured to interview Ms Augustine HE, Director of SOPEXA Guangzhou, and Mr Richard KRYSTKOWIAK, General Manager of SOPEXA China.
SOPEXA Managing Director of Guangzhou, Ms Augustine HE
Q1: It's been 15 years since the French Festival was held. Has anything changed in these 15 years?
Over the past 15 years, 'the number of people pursuing a better and high-quality life has increased with the improvement of people's material living standards year by year. Thanks to the increasing number of people studying and travelling abroad and the powerful Internet. French brands are becoming more and more well-known. Additionally, Olé's stores are expanding into new cities, and French goods are becoming more prevalent... The form of the France Festival is also constantly adjusted and optimized, from the original in-store promotion and offline promotion to the current offline French Market at home field, store promotion, online and offline matching of comprehensive publicity resources to reach the target consumers in all aspects and from multiple angles.
Q2: What are the innovations of this year's French Festival, and what kind of results are expected to be achieved?
French Market will be set up offline at the home field with store promotions; in addition to the regular decoration, we added various micro-scene theme arrangements in key stores to give people a sense of immersion; we tried a new way of communication with consumers online: Podcast, which introduces French products and French life in an unfolding way to communicate with target consumers; We cooperate with French restaurants to launch special wine dinners, inviting masters of wine and 3-star Michelin to share wine and food respectively, which provides a different in-depth understanding of French life experience for Olé high-end members who love French life and French food and wine, and deeply recognized by members.
Through French Festivals, firstly, it’s expected that the French style and French products will get more publicity and the concept of Taste France will gain ground. Secondly, the sales will definitely rise, but the exact number depends on the final figure.
SOPEXA China Mainland Managing Director, Mr Richard KRYSTKOWIAK
Q1: In your mind, what is the main reason that French products stand out and get the affection of Chinese customers?
Chinese consumers are obviously looking for a fantastic taste and quality with more and more interest in the health and traceability property, but the additional thing that makes it stand out is what is behind it, the story of the land, the people, the knowledge, a nice balance that we call Terroir in France. This is very important for us and reflects the diversity of choices you can have within the same product. For example, we call France the country with 1,000 cheeses. When we work with the French Dairy Board to highlight the panel of cheeses we have, we talk about the difference between the regions and the know-how of the producers that allow making outstanding products. I believe Chinese consumers are very receptive to that and became within the years more aware of that and willing to receive that information. I also think that in the imagination of Chinese consumers, it also conveys a certain notion of lifestyle that adds to all of this. For example, we organized a live streaming tour of the Chateau TroplongMondot, visiting the whole domain from the castle to the cellars and the vineyards, which is a gorgeous place you feel like spending time, enjoying life, and sipping one glass of this wine can transport you and make you travel there.
Q2: In the past few years, SOPEXA has organized many events in China to promote French food and beverage. These events truly impressed us a lot. Also, to be more specific, how did SOPEXA make it, and are there any specific cases?
Well, we are one of the oldest communication agencies dedicated to food & beverage, existing for over 60 years worldwide and for more than 20 years in China. What drives our employees is their passion for food, drink, and food production, allowing them to propose innovative and bold ideas to promote French products and provide Chinese consumers with the right experience to enjoy and endorse them. Food is also all about sharing and building a solid network of professionals with experts that we trust and that we can gather around one common passion for making the best out of it to develop communities that will always be there for the activities we organize to support French products. For example, thanks to the Taste France campaign that we organized for the French Ministry of Agriculture, we have organized tremendous promotions with our historical partner Olé and challenged ourselves to offer the best platform to highlight their products through numerous activities for more than 1 million consumers. Furthermore, for many years, we have organized the Best Sommelier competition in French wines, cultivating a strong and dedicated community that has become advocates for French wines and is always ready to endorse them.