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The logo of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen on the company's building in Clichy, near Paris February 11, 2014.
The logo of French cosmetics group L'Oreal is seen on the company's building in Clichy, near Paris February 11, 2014.
(Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

What BlackBerry could learn from L’Oréal

Two historic French brands, Peugeot and Citroën, have just been dragged back from the brink of disaster with the support of a Chinese investment. Meanwhile, another Gallic name, L’Oréal, goes from strength to strength, conquering global markets. Few in Canada will have much idea of the former – Peugeot and Citroën never made their mark in North America – but L’Oréal’s goody bag of branded shampoos, lipsticks and hair colouring is known to shoppers everywhere. It’s a lesson about how large commercial enterprises thrive, not through great technology and invention, but by understanding the tastes and attitudes of their customers. It’s a lesson that one Canadian business with global ambition, BlackBerry Ltd., also learned at a terrible cost.