I was recently invited to a networking event by the Made in Jura Association in my town in the Jura, one of the last great undiscovered areas of France. Not only was it a well-planned and thoroughly enjoyable networking opportunity but something I hadn’t done before: a guided tour of ‘La Maison de la Vache qui Rit’.
Founded in 1921 by Leon and Jules Bel, La Vache Qui Rit is a household name in France, and the instantly recognizable foil-wrapped triangles of creamy, snackable cheese can be found in most family fridges!
As I toured the museum I was struck by the incredible focus the Fromageries Bel demonstrated in the development of the brand and product. They decided very early on exactly who they wanted to attract with their brand, and formulated a winning strategy to get their cheese on every family table in every house.
I was fascinated by the decision to rename the product in the mother tongue of each national market they sold to.
La Vache qui Rit in France became The Laughing Cow in the UK, Die Lachende Kuh in Germany, Sapi Ceria in Indonesia and Ilay Omby Vavy Mifaly in Madagascar!
Furthermore, the product is carefully adapted to national consumer tastes, with creamy red variants available in Morocco, cinnamon cream in the US and pepper in the Czech Republic.
This powerful marketing strategy – reorientating the entire brand around the target market – ensures the product name actually means something to the consumers it’s appealing to, thereby allowing them to feel closer to the brand.
The museum was opened in 2009 by Catherine Sauvin – Léon Bel’s granddaughter – and is built on the very site where the brand was born in Lons-le-Saunier, at the heart of Jura. This also happens to be the location of VICI Languages France and also the VICI Language Academy’s summer residential, designed for Francophiles of any level of language proficiency who are interested in personal development, language acquisition, cultural appreciation and networking opportunities.
As I left La Maison de la Vache Qui Rit. I wondered how many brands would benefit from taking a leaf out of the Fromageries Bel’s book. For every Laughing Cow, perhaps there’s a Bonne Maman who’d argue a different case… In this particular instance, however, that’s one cow who’s laughing all the way to the bank.