The continuing international health crisis has fundamentally changed daily life in France, as well as the average citizen’s consumer habits. Key players in retail are keen to answer new questions arising among the consumer base. According to Antoine Daviet, product marketing director of Trace One, new dynamics have emerged, particularly in the areas of eco-packaging, digitalization and local economies.
“The Covid pandemic has accelerated trends that were already there,” said Antoine Daviet, whose group, Trace One, is a global leader in bringing together retailers and manufacturers. According to Daviet, after an initial lull in economic activity following the first lockdown, “brands needed to start communicating again how to differentiate themselves,” and needed to confront new and continuing consumer concerns.
Environment and eco-packaging: a priority for the French
“Many consumers have shown concern over important social and environmental issues, such as ecology, personal well-being or the well-being of the local economy. These are precisely the trends that have since rebounded,” he explains. He also notes that of all these trends, consumers have most often voiced their desire to see an increase in sustainability and a reduction in product packaging, especially plastic.
Consumers in France and in fact across Europe have been pushing for reduction in plastic pollution for years now, and the call has only intensified during the health crisis. “Today everyone is playing the game” and even the French government has promised an end to non-recyclable plastics by 2025.
Digitalization, a new tool for customer relations
The other big winner of the health crisis is obviously the digitalization of business, which has experienced “a boom beyond just e-commerce”. While web-based, super simple pickup and delivery services have revolutionized distribution systems, distributors are also using digital tools to effectively position themselves in regard to customer relations, “in order to better understand the buying journey and to integrate customer feedback back into the service”.
According to Daviet, “the die is cast, and digitalization will continue to grow” in the years to come. By accelerating the digital transformation of the retail sector, the crisis has also made it possible to put an end to a long-held foreboding suspicion that physical commerce would one day be fully replaced by e-commerce. “On the contrary, there is a balance and synergy between brick-and-mortar and online venues. Everyone works together and the brands have found new sources of growth everywhere. A hybrid model has come about,” says Daviet.
Local forces and short paths: a booming sector, but not yet mature
Another recent trend boosted by the Covid crisis is that of a desire by consumers for local products, and products with short supply chain paths. “People are clamoring for local marketplaces and short circuits,” notes Daviet. Driven by new digital tools that serve the locally-minded aspirations of consumers, “these trends have exploded since the beginning of Covid-related confinement.”
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