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Report: Changing French Consumer Bargain-Shopping Habits

New CSA Study Shows 70% of French Consumers Wait for Promotions Over Sales

In times of economic crisis, decline in purchasing power often makes consumers more attentive to prices. In reaction, many companies introduce promotions to attract these consumers, gain their loyalty and liquidate their stocks.

Following initial research about the prevalence of shopping holidays around the world at the end of 2015, we decided to dig deeper at the local level. In France, we commissioned CSA to conduct research—both qualitative and quantitative, exploring both consumer and marketer views—to help us to better understand the trend of promotional shopping holidays as compared to the traditional sales in the French e-commerce market. (Note: in this context, a promotion is a short-term special offer, whereas a sale posts items at permanently marked-down prices.)

The study showed how retail globalization, coupled with the explosion of e-commerce, has fundamentally disrupted the shopping habits of the French consumers. An ever-increasing competition in e-commerce obliges brands to constantly innovate and create new ways to interact with consumers.

You can download the full research report in French, or read below for highlights from the report in English.

Buyers Love E-commerce, Especially For its Promotions

E-consumption continues to increase. According to the consumer survey of the research, 57 percent of e-buyers intend to spend as much money online in 2016 as last year, and 28 percent think that they will consume even more. This particular interest in online purchases can in part be explained by the possibility of making purchases at reduced prices: about eight out of ten of these e-buyers go for online sales and promotions.

Sales remain an important shopping factor for the French. At the same time, the survey shows that promotions occupy an increasing important place in consumer shopping habits.

Indeed, 63 percent of these e-buyers buy items on sale, and 65 percent also take advantage of online promotions. This balance between shopping sales versus promotions is also observed within 25-34 years category (respectively 74 and 73 percent) and among the women surveyed (70 vs. 69 percent). Not surprisingly, those who identified as non-working were inclined to buy on promotions: 54 percent buy items on sale online, and 61 percent buy based on special offers.

This can be in part because, for many 71 percent of the respondents, it seems there are always promotions on to help them get a deal, even without a sale, and many (70 percent) say that the promotions offer more interesting offers than the sales.

The marketing managers interviewed noted an increase in the importance of promotions to their businesses. Some pure players  can hardly follow the new trend, which they call insane and endless, with an “almost daily” rhythm. Others see in it new opportunities to make their brand more alive, create new business, and  strengthen relationships with customers.

Are sales still important? Yes. As much as before? Well…

In this context, the role of sales in turnover seems to be changing. In the technology and beauty sectors, and for some pure players, promotions already dominate and can represent almost 40 percent of the turnover (against 10 percent represented by sales). But for the fashion and textile industry, for example, the future shows more of rebalancing between sales and promotions, with sales remaining a key factor and representing between 35 to 45 percent of purchases, against 10 to 15 percent from promotions.

Promotions help to break the seasonality of sales, creating new appointments with customers and offering new opportunities to consumers to obtain discounts throughout the year. However, the development of promotions these last years has actually new marks and thus a new form of seasonality for the consumers:

  • Mid season sales;
  • Private sales;
  • Black Friday, an event which arouses the interest the French e-buyers: 89 percent of e-consumers surveyed are interested in the event, a number which rises to 94 percent in the 25-34 age group.

All in all, seven out of ten e-buyers consider that online promotions replace sales. Among them, 52 percent think that they replace them partially, and 16 percent think the replacement is total (and up to 27 percent of 25-34-year-olds). All of this shows just how much e-commerce and its promotions are disrupting the traditional business “sales” cycles, and how much retailers have to constantly innovate in order to survive.

Want to learn more about how to use personalised display to boost your promotions? Get in touch with our team to learn more.