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8 consumer habits to know before expanding your brand to France
Expanding your brand to a new market takes great risks but the rewards can be even greater. Before expanding to France, here are 8 consumer habits you should know about to properly adapt your strategy to the local market.
As a result, France has become a key market of interest for many brands looking to expand through Europe. However, expansion is synonymous with risk, hours of planning, and hours of research. There is a lot to consider when expanding to France, especially the consumer habits of the local community.
In this article, we will dive into the market attractiveness for e-commerce brands in France and the consumer habits you will need to consider before entering this market. We will be covering:
- The importance of considering French consumer habits before expanding
- Why France should be your next target for expansion
- 8 consumer habits you need to know before expanding
- Easy expansion with a 3PL partner
- How Hive’s Pan-EU network can help expand your brand to France
The importance of considering French consumer habits before expanding
Understanding the consumer habits of locals in the market you wish to expand to is an essential step in your planning process. Not every market has the same consumer habits and properly adapting to the local ones can make or break your expansion plans.
The French market is a continuously growing one that has great potential in the e-commerce world. According to the International Trade Administration, 80% of internet users in France shopped online in 2021. In other words, 41.8 million people bought something online in 2021.
Properly understanding consumer preferences, dislikes, behaviors, and shopping habits would be a huge advantage to your brand to properly cater the French consumers when expanding to France.
It is also an important strategy for your brand to survive against industry giants in France where the e-commerce industry is predominantly led by:
Properly adapting to French consumer habits will therefore allow you to increase sales conversions and sustain positive growth for your brand.
Why France should be your next target for expansion
The French market is a key consumer market in Europe and a significant e-commerce market valued at $79.33 BN in 2023 and expected to grow with a 7.9% CAGR until 2027 where it will reach a value of $107.55 BN.
This makes the French market an ideal target for many e-commerce brands, especially those in D2C looking to expand in Europe. The constant growth in this market allows for great opportunities in many sectors especially the following which are the top five in e-commerce in France:
- Fashion: 28.1%
- Food and Personal Care: 24%
- Electronics and Media: 18.1%
- Furniture and Appliances: 15.3%
- Toys, Hobbies and DIY: 14.5%
8 French consumer habits to know before expanding:
1. French customers love to buy mobile-first
Following in the footsteps of e-commerce, m-commerce is a new term that has recently gained in popularity. It is a more targeted concept that encapsulates all e-commerce transactions conducted from mobile phones or tablets.
It has become an increasingly popular term in the e-commerce industry and a new target for those looking to increase their conversion rates. Overall, french people spent up to 75% of their time on the internet on their mobile phones in 2022. This is 5x greater than the time the spent on their computers.
The convenience and simplicity of phones makes online shopping even more attractive to customers. In fact, one third of French people make at least one purchase per month on mobile apps, so 34% of the french population. Overall, 48% buy from their phones and 75% from their laptops in France.
This is a tremendous opportunity for forward-thinking e-commerce brands looking to expand in France. Making an online store that is optimized and adapted to mobile use is extremely important and can increase customer engagement, brand loyalty, conversion rates and drive repeat purchases.
2. A preference for brands with a local feel and "Made in France" labels
The French community is a tightly built, patriotic, and some might say exclusive community. This means they are extremely supportive of local merchants and locally produced goods. This loyalty to the “Made in France” label has especially grown after so many local stores suffered terribly during the pandemic.
50% of French consumers tend to favor “made in France” products, and 60% are even willing to pay more for these products. This is not a weak metric, especially considering the fact that 79% of French people believe they are consuming in support of the French economy and perceive the “made in France” label as an assurance of quality.
In addition, French-speaking people tend to expect e-commerce sites to be localized in their native language as well. This is an extremely important step for your e-commerce business to take before expanding. Localizing everything from landing pages to packaging is key to drive conversion rates up and target your customers properly as well as improving customer loyalty.
3. Preference for parcel points
The effect delivery has on an e-commerce business’s conversion rate is undeniable. French consumers expect flexibility in their delivery offerings of a website as it makes them feel more empowered and trusting that the order will be delivered properly.
Most consumers do not stick to only one delivery method. Their choice typically depends on delivery fees, and delivery times. According to Statista, the top delivery choices for consumers in France are:
- At home delivery: 78% chose home delivery as their preference
- Pick-up point – what the French call “point relais”: 71% use parcel points
- Click and Collect (in-store pick up): only 26% claim to use click and collect
Clearly, the option of parcel points is a crowd favorite in France, something not as common in other markets. This concept works in two ways. Either the order will be delivered in a specific shop (usually tobacco stores, supermarkets, etc.) or in parcel lockers in the streets.
By offering parcel-point delivery, the typical concern of “what if i’m not home when the package arrives?” can be eliminated. This can even be more cost-effective for your brand as it minimizes the amounts of returns caused by wrong addresses for instance. It is a win-win strategy.
4. Needing flexible delivery options
French customers also prefer to be able to choose their delivery carrier. This strategy can reduce shopping cart abandonment as it gives customers flexibility in their choice. This choice will generally depend on click-to-door delivery times and delivery fees.
It is important to work with companies that are trusted by the French consumers. The top providers that dominate the market in France are:
- La Poste: chosen 68% of the time for online orders
- Chronopost: chosen 38% of the time
- Mondial Relay: chosen 29% of the time
If you only offer one delivery provider and a client has already had a bad experience with it, they are more likely to bounce. 35% of online shoppers tend to change brands after a poor delivery experience, which is why the ability of offering flexible delivery options to your customers can make or break your customer retention rates.
One final important note to remember on delivery is that French consumers tend to expect free delivery options, especially after a certain basket size. In fact, 32% of French consumers say that delivery must be free in order for them to make a purchase.
It is therefore important for you to offer a range of reliable french carriers such as La Poste, Chronopost, and Mondial Relay, to provide flexibility and confidence for your French consumers, thereby improving customer satisfaction as well as conversions.
In addition, consider incorporating free delivery options in your delivery choices, by programming it to apply to orders over a certain amount to reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase the average basket value.
5. French consumers search for low prices and top quality
French consumer behavior can have a tendency of being very selective. In fact, French consumers will often research and evaluate different brands online to find which has the better offer in terms of price and quality. What’s important to them is first of all, the quality of the product, and, the quality of their experience.
According to a report on French consumer buying behavior by Gaasly, 66% of French consumers care strongly about the quality of the product, and 76% care about the price. As such, French consumers tend to search for the best bargain but always expect top quality in the products they buy.
The important note to remember for your brand is that French consumers look for bargains. 60% of French consumers in fact say they often search for coupons and discounts online before buying. This is why offering promotions, gifts, coupons is a great way to attract the French consumer.
However, although there is a general consensus for low prices, this does not mean that consumers in France are willing to sacrifice quality for a cheaper price. Ensuring visitors that your products are of best quality can entail leveraging testimonials, quality stamps that certify the quality of your product is important to increase conversion rates.
6. French consumers tend to look out for brands that are sustainable
Since the pandemic, French people have become extremely careful about their consumption patterns. They now tend to favor ethically sourced products, unprocessed goods, and sustainable practices and values from the brand they purchase from.
In fact, around 81% of the 25 to 49-year olds in France are concerned for the environment, and only 16% believe that companies share enough information in these regards. This change of behavior has paved the way for many new brands that value sustainability to gain visibility in the market.
French consumers have a much greater appreciation for brands that show transparency and environmental or social action. This is further reinforced by the increasing popularity of the circular economy and second-hand consumption.
Stores such as vinted and leboncoin.fr have revolutionized this trend, and now, nearly 50% of e-shoppers in france report buying refurbished or secondhand items online in 2022. Many brands for example are integrating a circular system called a “take-back program” where customers can send back used products so the company recycles it in exchange for a discount.
For a brand to succeed, it’s essential to incorporate environmental and social wellbeing in their values, mission and vision, and to genuinely act upon them, which is why full transparency is important. Incorporating a circular model for your brand, utilizing sustainable practices, green delivery and so on allows you to compete successfully on the french market.
7. Easily influenced by social media
French consumers are heavily influenced by the community surrounding them. Social media has in fact become a very popular tool for marketing purposes and even research on products or brands.
Since the pandemic, more and more people in France buy products through social media, especially Facebook and Instagram. This isn’t surprising as the french community has a strong online presence with many well-known influencers around the country.
In fact, ⅓ french people follow an influencer, and 79% have said that they’ve purchased a product after seeing an influencer advertise it on social media. Influencer marketing is a strong way to generate trust in the product and ensure quality.
Not only is influencer marketing extremely successful in France, but, general social media advertisements and shops have shown great results as well. 47% claim they’ve been influenced by ads on social media before, 29% have actually bought on social media platforms and 52% say they have bought a product after having been redirected from an ad or post on social media.
A great way to reach french consumers is therefore through influencer and social media marketing. Here is the list of the most used social media platforms, in order, in France:
8. A need for trust – leveraging UGC and testimonials
A major problem with social media and the internet is cybersecurity and fraud. This is a big concern for French consumers where 52% are worried about data security when buying on social media and 39% are scared of scams.
Because of these fears, French consumers undergo a lot of research before buying a new product online. In fact, 80% consumers research before buying and 96% of consumers are influenced by “the e-reputation” of a site.
As a result, it is extremely important for e-commerce brands to build a sense of trust with it’s online users. There are many different ways to achieve this:
- Leveraging user generated content (UGC) on the website, product pages and social media to show real people using your real products
- Showcasing positive reviews and user testimonials on your website
- Leveraging SEO marketing to position yourself strongly on Google
- Building a proper website with detailed product descriptions and quality images
- Referrals with other brands - cross marketing
Relying on a 3PL to expand in the French market
Relying on a 3PL partner to accompany you in your expansion into markets can bring you many benefits and facilitate the project for you.
Hive is a 3PL partner that can easily help you expand your brand in France. Hive’s offering is specifically designed to help optimize e-commerce operations, and with a team of local experts to guide and accompany you through your growth you are never alone.
Through the Hive App, you have the ability to control and streamline your operations. From freight, packaging, order fulfillment, efficient returns handling, you can manage everything with the same app.
Furthermore, with Hive’s numerous offerings like customized packaging that enables you to offer eco-friendly packaging built from recycled cardboard and filling materials can bring you one step closer to incorporating the circular model into your brand. Not to mention how much this can reduce your environmental footprint.
Hive also offers a system of add-on rules that can easily be programmed directly from the Hive App. These add-on rules are automations that allow you to easily integrate marketing flyers, gifts and goodies in orders. These extras are great solutions to personalize the customer unboxing experience and increase satisfaction.
Brand referrals and cross-promotions between brands are even more available for Hive brands as they can benefit from the Hive Club. This is a club where brands can expand their customer reach by cross-marketing with other brands in the network.
Hive’s pan-EU ability to expand your brand
Finally, expanding your brand to the French market can be greatly facilitated by Hive’s Pan-EU network.
This is a network that offers access to fulfillment centers across Europe in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and even the UK. It enables efficient distribution of your inventory and allows you to benefit from accelerated delivery times: only 1-2 days across Europe.
Hive Pan-EU is built to streamline your operations, improve cross-border selling, enhance customer experience and reach a much greater base of customers, all while reducing fees, automating inventory management and order fulfillment.
Partner with Hive for a seamless integration into the French market. Discover more about our services and how we can benefit your brand here.
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