Yellow Vest Movement Demonstrates That 'Average French Consumer' No Longer Exists

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Yellow Vest Movement Demonstrates That 'Average French Consumer' No Longer Exists

The 'gilets jaunes' or 'yellow vest' movement in France should be taken as an indicator that the notion of the 'average French consumer' no longer exists, a new report from Kantar has said.

The report, '2019: Un Nouveau Modèle de Consommation se Confirme' ('2019: A New Consumption Model is Confirmed'), says fragmentation is now broad among the French consumer base, which have different expectations depending on their level of income.

'La Fin Du Mois'

As Kantar's Gaëlle Le Floch puts it in the report, "the emergence of the gilets jaunes movement brutally highlights the famous divide between 'la fin du mois' (the end of the month) and 'la fin du monde ' (the end of the world)."

On the one hand, she explains, a certain demographic of French society is 'financially comfortable and sensitive to environmental issues'; they go to organic stores, eat less meat and don't mind whether a product is on promotion or not.

On the other hand, however, there is a growing demographic of modest living consumers who face 'severe budgetary constraints'. A November 2019 study by Kantar found that when asked about their finances, 11% of households said they are 'not doing well at all'.


For retailers, this presents a "double bind," according to Le Floch, as they have to "address the diversity of consumers, with opposing living structures, against a backdrop of social crisis".

Consumption Trends

Elsewhere in the report, Kantar notes that food consumption at home was down last year (-1.2%), with consumption out of home rising by 8.5%.

In addition, 29% of French households now have meals delivered to their homes, which creates competition for traditional channels.

While household spending has increased at a modest level (+0.2%), and more than two thirds of consumers (69%) say that they would be ready to pay more for quality products, the return of price inflation to the market has slowed this 'food transition'.


Increased numbers of French consumers are turning to discount stores for their shopping needs, with the mainstream grocers responding to this by putting private label at the core of their commercial strategy, and focusing on the quality of their products.

© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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