According to own accounts, LAGADERE is one of the three biggest promotional products distributors in France. However, the company, which is also the French member of the international distributor alliance, Ippag, considers its task as an agency not only to sell products, but also to develop strategic concepts.
“When my parents founded our family business LAGARDERE S.A. in 1973, they consciously chose that name. It was the name of a musketeer, who especially stood for reliability, fidelity, decency, generosity and respect – values, which are also of great importance to us,” said Frédéric Misseri, CEO of the established distributor. “Respect for other people, whether it be for employees, customers, partners or competitors is extremely important for the trust and mutual respect within relationships. This is one of the basic values of our company just as much as respect for the environment and demonstrating social responsibility.“
The company writes its name in capitals to differentiate itself from the international aerospace concern, Lagardere Media Group, which it has no connections with. “However, in our market we are one of the three biggest companies in France,” explained Frédéric Misseri. “Our headquarters are in Nice, where the logistics company we cooperate with is also based. We have offices in Paris and Lyon and we not only supply customers all over France, but also in Dom Tom – the French-speaking overseas region – Benelux, Switzerland and also in Africa, which is incidentally a very interesting expanding market for us. Here, the enormous communication potential of promotional products is more and more clearly recognised.“
On average, the company employs 40 people and processing more than 5,000 orders a year turns over approx. 9.5 mil. Euros annually. The different departments are united under one roof, spread over three floors at the headquarters in Nice – so short routes are guaranteed. The purchase and sales departments are located here as well as the graphic and design studio and the marketing department, the database administration and IT support as well as the Accounting and Administration Departments. “We have the products imprinted and customised by external specialists, whom we have been working together with for years,” explained Misseri. “We had our own warehouse in the past, but it is more practical to fall back on the assistance of a local logistics specialist, who carries out these tasks for us.”
The company procures its products from European suppliers, but also imports goods itself from Asia. “We make 90% of our turnover with the products of our European supplier partners,” stated Misseri, “The share of the direct imports from Asia is 10%. Here, it is an enormous advantage that we are the exclusive French member of the international distributor alliance, Ippag.”
This organisation has existed since 1965, it is represented on five Continents and in 26 countries. The members mutually inform each other about purchasing sources, the international business and ensure that their suppliers comply with the respective standards. The members have all signed a mandatory Code of Conduct and the United Nations Global Compact.
LAGARDERE is also a member of the economic branch of Ippag, Ippag Global Promotion, which offers fulfilment in 43 countries for major international companies, such as Siemens or Leaseplan. Of course, the sales volumes of Ippag are also a great advantage – according to official sources approx. 200 mil. Euros a year – as far as offering competitive prices is concerned.
Misseri: “We don’t see ourselves as simply being a promotional products distributor that sells products. We consider our task as an agency to be advising our customers and providing them with precisely those communication tools that are best suited to them in order to generate the return on investment they’re looking for. The thing that distinguishes us from our competitors is the fact that we develop strategic concepts. We operate like an advertising agency and initially draw up a checklist containing a row of questions that we pose to our customers. Because the better we know our customers, their target groups and their specific projects, whether it be an event or a complete B2B programme, a product launch or a participation at a trade show, the more precisely we can plan the marketing activities. After all promotional products are not simply items, they are communication tools that have an excellent effect if implemented intelligently. They also have to be useful and attract attention. Of course, ideally they are also original and innovative. We have to make it clear to our customers that promotional products, regardless of how they are integrated into the strategic alignment of the communication, create a bonding relationship between the company that implements them and the target group. Good promotional products emotionalise brands and messages, they are eye-catching and arouse desire – and furthermore they generate a significant memorization and thus the expected return on investment. Promotional items are not an ‘expense’, but an investment for which you must look for a clear return.”
Incidentally, LAGARDERE was one of the first agencies in France to develop its own website, which already went online in the year 2000. Today, 20,000 different products are administered and updated in the corresponding Internetbased database. But that is not the only tool that the company provides: They publish several new fulfilment catalogues every year and an exclusive marketing package is compiled for existing customers. As a limited edition, the catalogues present trends and innovations, the corresponding products are illustrated in an attached booklet, detailed information on each product is found on the website, which can be reached directly using the supplied QR code.
“We offer knowledge, expertise and service in all dimensions of haptic advertising as well as the corresponding items of course, whether it be in the form of give-aways, corporate gifts or company-specific custom-made products. We present a multitude of brands, constantly research new products and concepts, offer a 48-hour delivery service, create promotion campaigns or also different packaging options. Of course, our customers can always fall back on the services of our design, creative and marketing departments,” summed up Misseri.
Customer satisfaction is naturally of utmost importance for the company. This is why a survey on customer satisfaction is carried out per email every two weeks. “After all we want to know what we can do better,” stated Misseri, “and don’t merely want to contend our creativity, we actually want to constantly prove it.“ LAGARDERE succeeded in doing precisely this with an article it developed itself – from the 3D design through to the prototype, which was ultimately mass-produced by PSL – the “Tornado USB”. The idea was to create an innovative USB stick, which arouses attention and which is also used. It is exclusively sold under the license of LAGARDERE and over 200,000 sticks have been sold worldwide.
“The spinning top itself is nothing new, it has existed for 30 years already,” said Misseri, “but the extractable USB turns it into a nice desk toy, which is also extremely useful. First of all one has to attract attention so that the item stands out and can ultimately enfold its true potential. A further USB stick simply disappears inside the desk drawer without being used. That is certainly not the case with our ‘Tornado USB’, because it arouses the play instinct and has an emotionalising effect, which promotes its communicational effect.”
Further new developments are on the way, two innovations have already been patented. So, it will be interesting to see what further creative marketing ideas are born in Nice.
An interview with two French service providers can be found here: “Good opportunities for foreign suppliers”