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  • Vaches laitières dans un champs

    We had a coffee with Laurent Damiens

    Par Ambre Huerre Paitry

    The CNIEL rolls out international communication campaigns to promote dairy products, more particularly cheese, cream and butter. How is the communication adapted to each market? How to conquer new ones?

    Laurent Damiens, marketing and international director at CNIEL, agreed to answer our questions.


    Laurent Damiens

    Hello, we are delighted to sit down and talk with you. Can you tell us about the role and mission of the CNIEL, the French Dairy Industry Association, in a few words?


    The missions of the dairy association are to build consensus, a vision and a consistent strategy for the entire French dairy industry. We also implement collective action plans in the economic, research and marketing arenas.


    Three key figures on CNIEL?


    • 100 employees
    • €40 million in own resources
    • 35 countries in which communication campaigns are run 



    The CNIEL is recognised as a precursor for going onto markets where other French trade associations have not yet ventured. How do you approach a new market?



    Most exporting companies are represented within our Export Commission, where we determine which countries have high potential (in the medium and long term), namely through analysis of economic data. We then carry out opportunity studies on the target markets, as well as consumer studies and image and perception studies of our French dairy products on various targets.

    Through this process, we are able to approach a new market and determine an appropriate strategy for action.  

    Verre de lait


    What are the keys to successfully conquering a new market?


    We try to adapt our products to the local culture and make them a part of the country’s food culture. We must understand the extent to which we can accomplish this.


    How do you tailor your communication internationally?


    Plateau de fromage

    For example, in Japan, we promote sushi with Camembert and sashimi with Comté. In China, we highlight jellyfish with Brie and baozi dumplings and pot stickers with Reblochon, whereas in the US we focus on cheeseburgers with Bleu d’Auvergne or macaroni and cheese with Mimolette.


    We will never be able to impose France’s famous cheese platter on the rest of the planet. It’s up to us to find areas where dairy products can be a complement to or be adapted to local food cultures worldwide. Everyone must be able to take inspiration from our rich heritage of products and ingredients that can be incorporated into their own culinary and gastronomic culture.


    Are your messages different or very different depending on the country? Can you give us a few examples?



    Our positioning is based on the diversity of our dairy products, the French countryside, our know-how, our culinary tradition and more. These are key messages that position us with respect to our competitors around the world. This does not prevent us from adapting both to the diversity of the cultures around the globe and to the targets we aim to reach – quite the contrary in fact. Our communication takes on a different tone depending on whether we are speaking to foodies in Sydney, to a Brazilian chef, to a London Millennial or to a gourmet on 5th Avenue in New York!


    Butter of Europe


    In your view, what makes a great communication campaign?


    Every communication campaign must have aims and criteria that can be evaluated. If a campaign does not meet its aims or reach its target, we rework it. And that happens quite frequently.


    What campaign are your proudest of?


    Make it Magnifique in the USA!

    This campaign helped to successfully shift the image of French cheese. In the eyes of American consumers, cheese was an elitist product, and the campaign thus aimed to make them aware that adding a bit of French cheese to whatever basic dish could help turn it into something magnificent! 


    What are the next challenges you will be facing?




    We have just launched communication campaigns in Africa, and namely in Nigeria. This is a true challenge!

    Next, we are considering Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, as well as communication campaigns in Peru and Ecuador. The year 2020 will be full of new challenges, as we are also going to re-launch our communication in India.