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.