Reaching the Consumers

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Consumer Profile

Consumer Profile
The French population is aging, the average age being 42.23 years in 2022 versus 38.85 in 2002 (INSEE). More than half of the population (55.3%) is aged between 20 and 64 years old, while 23.7% is under 20 years old, 21% is 65 years old or over, and 9.8% is 75 years old or over (INSEE, 2022). French households are increasingly numerous and small, made up of 2.2 persons on average (INSEE, 2018). More than one-third of households are made up of one person, one-third of 2 people and less than one-third of 3 people or more. The French population has 48.4% men and 51.6% women (INSEE, 2022). More than two thirds of the population is concentrated in urban areas, particularly in the Ile de France region (Paris and its suburbs) (INSEE, 2021). The level of education and number of university graduates is high and continues to increase. Qualified office workers represent 14.8% of the workforce, and low-skilled office workers 11.3%. Middle management occupations (intermediate positions between executives and workers) account for 24.6% of the active population, while qualified workers account for 12.7% and lower-level workers 6.3%. Executives account for 21.5% of the active population while the rest of the labour force consists of tradesmen and entrepreneurs (6.4%) and farmers (1.5%) (INSEE, 2021).
Purchasing Power
In France, GDP per capita had been rising since 2009, but it dropped to 46,991.2 USD in 2020 (World Bank). The yearly net average salary of a French person is EUR 29,070 in 2020 (INSEE). After stagnating in 2020, the purchasing power of the French households increased by 1.9% in 2021 (INSEE). Household consumption fell by an unprecedent -7.1% in volume in 2020 due to the pandemic. It rebounded in 2021, but during the first semester of 2022 it decreased by -1.3% (INSEE) due to rising inflation and the war in Ukraine. Income inequalities persist, with a Gini index of 0.29 (1 representing the highest level of inequality ; OECD, 2019). Men’s revenue from salary is on average 22% higher than that of women, according to INSEE. Seniors have the highest median standard of living, while young people have the lowest median standard of living. The self-employed have the highest standard of living, followed by employees and pensioners. Below average are children under 18, and other inactive populations, i.e. students and unemployed.
Consumer Behaviour
France’s population has a high and diversified level of mass consumption (defined as the very high average level of consumption whereby most of the people consume a large amount of goods and services other than satisfaction of basic needs). Most French believe that consumption is synonymous with pleasure; therefore travel, restaurants, sports, culture and entertainment products and services are quite important to most French consumers. Most consumers purchase from mass retailers and large companies. The average purchase in urban areas is falling but is offset by a higher number of visits to several shops. However, consumer confidence in mass retailers and large companies is two times lower than the trust given to small shops and craftsmen (40% versus 80%). French people are increasingly attracted by online sales, e-commerce and m-commerce (smartphone use). This practice also applies to the purchase of consumer products (primarily food), through the development of drive and home delivery services in major cities. Foreign products are widespread in supermarkets and other distribution channels. In cities, foreign restaurant chains and other foreign services are also omnipresent. However, "Made in France" products are gaining importance to 79% of French consumers, who believe they are participating in support of the local economy and perceive domestic products as a guarantee of quality. 
According to the market research firm IFOP, brand loyalty depends on the type of products. For cosmetics, clothing, TV / hi-tech, half of consumers will be faithful, while for home appliances and home furnishings, the majority will be unfaithful. Most French consumers are worried about big data and personal data protection. Social media can influence consumer decision-making particularly with regards to cooking, beauty products and fashion, thanks to advertisements, opinions and comments of users and influencers. One in three internet users follow an influencer, and 75% of those followers have already made a purchase following advice from an influencer.
However, consumer behaviour in France has undergone several changes in recent years. The consumer seeks to adopt more responsible consumption habits (quality, traceability, composition, authenticity, transparency, environmental respect etc.). In 2021, 79% of the French would choose, for the same price, a “more responsible” product; 22% have recently changed their diet, the majority for environmental or animal welfare reasons; and a third systematically or regularly buys second hand or refurbished devices. There is a growing interest in "sustainable" products: organic, local, natural, without parabens or preservatives (Greenflex & Ademe Barometer 2021). In the food sector despite a fall in prices in the recent years, the quantity of products purchased has decreased whereas quality of purchases has improved (increase in sales of organic products, labelled, vegan, local, fresh, seasonal, highlights of short circuits etc.). Regarding transport, even if the car remains the most used means of transport, there is development of alternative modes of transport in urban areas (cycling, scooters etc.), as well as bus travel. Use of collaborative platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, Blablacar is increasing, especially among young people.
 

Household Consumption Expenditure

Sector Percentage
Housing (including rentals, heating and lighting) 20.9%
Health 13.3%
Transport 10.3%
Food and soft drinks 10.0%
Culture and entertainment 7.9%
Education 6.8%
Accommodation, restaurants, cafes 5.5%
Housing equipment 3.7%
Other (clothing, shoes, alcohol, tobacco, communication, donations) 21.6%

Source: INSEE, 2017.

Consumer Recourse to Credit
The low interest rate environment has largely helped to expand lending to individuals. Consumer credit growth is however slightly weaker than that of the rest of the Eurozone. According to Banque de France, in the first quarter of 2020, growth in consumer loans to individuals amounted to +3.7% (after +5.6% rise in December 2019). French household debt is divided into real estate loans and consumer loans. 30.8% of households have at least one loan. The number of people using consumer loans is increasing faster than those using real estate loans. Consumer loans have increased since 2016 after a few years of decline. They are largely intended for the purchases of a vehicle, as well as for house equipment, maintenance and repair. Almost all purchases are made by debit cards rather than credit cards.
Growing Sectors
Accommodation and restaurant, automobile, bicycles, telecommunications, computers, smartphones, health (medicine), education, recreational, culture and entertainment, sporting goods & services, home appliances, fashion accessories are growing markets. (Source: INSEE)
Consumers Associations
The French Consumer Institute
The Federal Union of Consumers (UFC Que Choisir)
The European Consumer Centre in France (ECC)
 

Population in Figures

Total Population:
67,391,582
Urban Population:
81.0%
Rural Population:
19.0%
Density of Population:
123 Inhab./km²
Men (in %)
48.7%
Women (in %)
51.6%
Natural increase:
0.21%
Medium Age:
39.0
Ethnic Origins:
87.4% of the French population was born in France, 12.6% abroad (French born abroad, immigrants who have acquired French nationality or immigrants with foreign nationality). The French population is composed of a large proportion of people of Celtic and Latin origin with minorities from the Maghreb, Africa and Asia. (INSEE)
 

Population of main metropolitan areas

City Population
Paris 2,175,700
Marseille 868,300
Lyon 518,700
Toulouse 486,900
Nice 341,100
Nantes 314,200
Montpellier 290,100
Strasbourg 284,700
Bordeaux 257,100
Lille 233,100

Source: Citypopulation.de, Latest data available - Latest available data.

 

Age of the Population

Life Expectancy in Years
Men:
79.7
Women:
85.6

Source: World Bank, last available data., 2009 - Latest available data.

 
Distribution of the Population By Age Bracket in %
Under 5:
6.1%
6 to 14:
12.3%
16 to 24:
12.2%
25 to 69:
56.6%
Over 70:
12.9%
Over 80:
5.5%

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Prospects 2010 - Latest available data.

 

Household Composition

Total Number of Households (in million) 23.8
Average Size of the Households 2.5 Persons
Percent of Households of 1 Person 31.0%
Percent of Households of 2 Persons 31.1%
Percent of Households of 3 or 4 Persons 29.9%
Percent of Households of 5 Persons and More 7.9%

Source: Trends in Europe and North America, The statistical yearbook of the Economic Commission for Europe 2008, UNECE., 2008 - Latest available data.

 

Consumption Expenditure

Purchasing Power Parity 2019202020212022 (e)2023 (e)
Purchasing Power Parity (Local Currency Unit per USD) 0.750.760.740.730.72

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, Latest Available Data

Definition: Purchasing Power Parity is the Number of Units of a Country's Currency Required to Buy the Same Amounts of Goods and Services in the Domestic Market as USD Would Buy in the United States.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
Household Final Consumption Expenditure 201820192020
Household Final Consumption Expenditure
(Million USD, Constant Price 2000)
1,374,4141,398,7231,299,866
Household Final Consumption Expenditure
(Annual Growth, %)
1.01.8-7.1
Household Final Consumption Expenditure per Capita
(USD, Constant Price 2000)
20,48220,79919,288

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data

 
Consumption Expenditure By Product Category as % of Total Expenditure 2017
Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 26.2%
Transport 13.6%
Food and non-alcoholic beverages 13.2%
Miscellaneous goods and services 12.3%
Recreation and culture 8.0%
Restaurants and hotels 7.3%
Furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house 4.9%
Health 4.2%
Clothing and footwear 3.8%
Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics 3.7%
Communication 2.5%
Education 0.5%

Source: OECD Stats, Latest available data

 

Household Equipment

Main Consumer Durables as % of Households Owning Them 2008
Refrigerator with or without freezer 99.8%
Freezer with or without refrigerator 86.1%
Microwave oven 83.7%
Washing machine 94.2%
Dishwasher 48.8%
Color television 97.1%
VCR 83.3%
Telephone land line 88.1%
Mobile phone 78.9%
PC (including laptop) 62.8%
Internet 54.7%
Car 81.2%

Source: Insee (French Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies), permanent survey of living conditions, Latest available data

 
Information Technology and Communication Equipment, per 100 Inhabitants 2012
Telephone Subscribers 105.0
Main Telephone Lines 61.9
Cellular mobile subscribers 105.0
Internet Users 83.0
PCs 65.2

Source: International Telecommunication Union, Latest available data

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Marketing opportunities

 

Media in Which to Advertise

Television
About 94% of households are equipped with a television set, which is the most effective media when it comes to contribution to the act of purchase. Television advertising has a great influence onthe French consumers' behaviour. An advert early evening during a television game will reach the biggest number of viewers.

Main Televisions
Groupe Canal+
Groupe France Télévisions
M6 Groupe
Groupe TF1
Press
Less effective than television or radio, written press however contributes to 14% of purchases. Slightly under 2/3 of French citizens read at least one newpaper or magazine a day. Advertising published in this form helps the consumer in his decision whether to purchase or not, and informs him of special offers. It does have an impact, as the reader can digest it at his own pace.

Main Newspapers
Hachette Filipacchi
Prisma Presse
Groupe Bayard
Mail
Even though some people are resistant, the majority of consumers refer to it when it is time to decide on a purchase. It is more then simple advertising a product, the information received in a postbox presents the special offers available at the nearby stores.
In Transportation Venues
Besides street billboards, bus shelters, subway or railway stations, advertising appear more and more on the actual modes of transport themselves, such as personal cars, bus, train, aircrafts. They are also starting to see a tendency to digitalisation of outdoor advertising on LCD screens. Advertising on this type of media allows for reaching a wide range of mobile consumers.

Market Leaders:
Avenir JC Decaux (in french)
Agence CP
Non Stop Media
Radio
Second place after television, radio advertising is the media that proves to be the most efficient to trigger the act of purchase (26% of media contact contribute to the act of purchase). Over 99% of individuals own at lease one device that allows them to listen to the radio. Advertising messages on the radio reach a very large audience. These are mostly broadcast on local radio and promote the local stores.

Main Radios
Groupe Lagardère Active
Radio France
RTL
NRJ
RFI
Web
France has more than 50 million internet users. Advertising appears directly on websites; email advertising is growing, but tends to get lost in the mass of spam received.
M-marketing (advertising by mobile phone) remains limited. Telemarketing has grown, but it is considered as factor that disturbs the tranquility of the home rather than a service.


Market Leaders:
Leo Burnett (Publicis Dialog)
Microsoft Advertising
Agence La Chose
Main Advertising Agencies
Publicis Groupe SA
Havas
Saatchi & Saatchi
 

Main Principles of Advertising Regulations

Beverages/Alcohol
The Evin Law of 1991 regulates alcohol advertising. Such advertising is restricted: point of sale, written adult press, and at specific times on the radio. The warning "Alcohol abuse is seriously damages your health" must be clearly shown.
Cigarettes
Tobacco advertising is prohibited according to E.U Directive on Tobacco Advertising in the European Union and the Evin law of 1991. The EU Tobacco Advertising Directive bans tobacco advertising in printed media, radio, and internet as well as the sponsorship of cross-border events or activities. Tobacco advertising on television has been banned in the EU since the early 1990s.
Pharmaceuticals/Drugs
Medicine advertising is regulated by the European Union Directive 2001/83/EC, as amended by Directive 2004/27/EC, and by the Code de la Santé Publique. Such advertising is prohibited on products only available on prescription. Stating therapeutic indications when self-medication is not suitable is not allowed, so is the distribution of free samples to the public.
Other Rules
Article L.121-1 of the Consumer Code prohibits all misleading advertising that could potentially deceive the consumer. Articles L121-8 and L121-9 of the  Consumer Code authorize comparative advertising, but regulate it very strictly. Regulation 1924/2006 sets conditions for the use of nutrition claims such as “low in fat” or “high in vitamin C”, as well as health claims such as “helps lower cholesterol.” The EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive limits U.S. style product placement on television to a maximum of 12-minute/hour. TV programs aimed at children are subject to a code of conduct that includes a limit with regards to junk food advertising.
Use of Foreign Languages in Advertisement
A French translation, even discreet, of any expression or written sentence in a foreign language must be supplied. Since August 1994, the Loi Toubon requires that all advertising, labeling, instructions and promotional material be in French.
Organizations Regulating Advertising
The Higher Council for Radio and Television ( in french )
The Bureau for Control of Advertising
The National Commission for Data Processing and freedoms
The Directorate for media development

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Latest Update: September 2022