While Leclerc is the leader in most regions, Carrefour takes the lion’s share in the most densely urbanized regions. Brands that are less and less dominant with the emergence of new commercial offers.
Leclerc, Carrefour and Intermarché. It is the unchanging top trio of mass distribution in France. But behind this global picture of the food consumption landscape in France lie regional disparities. This is what a study by the specialist company Bonial reveals, exclusively for BFM Business.
For this study, more than 5,000 consumers in France were consulted by OpinionWay. Consumers questioned about the stores they frequent to do the majority of their shopping. And the result confirms the balance of power in market shares. Leclerc leads nationally with 23% of responses ahead of Carrefour (21%), Intermarché (12%), Lidl (9%) and Système U (9%).
But as the map below shows, if Leclerc leads in seven regions, some of them favor Système U, Intermarché and especially Carrefour. The latter also tops the choice of consumers in the regions with the highest population density such as Ile-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes or Paca / Corsica.
System U, for its part, is the preferred choice of inhabitants of Pays de la Loire (34%) and Intermarché is slightly ahead of Carrefour in Occitanie with 22% of respondents who prefer it.
This map in a way draws an urban France which chooses Carrefour and a more rural France which opts for Leclerc or the groups of independents.
“It is the fruit of history, analyzes Laurent Landel, the boss of Bonial. Leclerc was born in Brittany, so she logically colonized the West. Edouard Leclerc made disciples in his neighborhood and therefore conquered France by there. Carrefour on the other hand was born in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois in Ile-de-France. It developed by capillarity in the big cities. “
The French frequent 4 stores
Positions conquered in the second half of the twentieth century with the emergence of the consumer society and which tend to freeze over time.
“It was a race of speed but as now you can no longer open as many retail areas, the population areas have been conquered and the commercial dynamic has evolved”, specifies Laurent Landel.
The geographic issue has thus slipped towards that of the differentiating commercial proposition. The era of the omnipotent hypermarket that was more or less the only store frequented by consumers is over.
French consumers now frequent an average of four brands. The hypermarket remains central for the majority of shopping, but many specialized brands complete the basket. Hence the emergence in recent years of Lidl in discount, Picard for frozen foods, many organic stores or even Grand Frais which has been one of the favorite brands of the French for a few years.
“These brands have had different development strategies, observes Laurent Landel. Most of them have set up near hypermarkets, almost in their parking lots, to take advantage of their catchment area by making different proposals on the price or the product offering. “
Brands that are not the main stores for consumers but which are gradually nibbling away market share from the major retailers. Lidl and Grand Frais are thus among the favorite brands of the French in the Bonial study even if they are not the brands in which consumers do most of their shopping.
Lidl is ranked number 1 for price (7.8 / 10) and ease of access (7.6 / 10), Picard has the best shopping experience (7.5 / 10) and Biocoop the better brand image (7.5 / 10).
“The cake grows faster than the appetite”
A proliferation of commercial offers which raises questions, however, that consumption is not progressing in the same proportions.
“The cake grows faster than the appetite of consumers, observes Laurent Landel. The median income remains around 1780 euros and many consumers are forced to research prices and promotions at the end of the month.”
Price and promotions have become the number 1 criterion of choice in recent years, whereas previously it was geographical proximity that was privileged. Leclerc, who obtains the best score in the promotions category (7.4 / 10) and second in price (7.5 / 10) is therefore logically leader at the national level.