Is food the last bastion against globalisation? Though this trend is whetting appetites for flavours from all around the world, consumers are also increasingly sensitive to locally produced foods.
Fast-changing food trends
Food and drinks are the third most popular search topics on Google after sports and travel. Food has a daily impact on populations around the globe and, in a world revolutionised by the advent of NICTs (New Information and Communication Technologies) at the start of the 2000s, consumers are expressing new needs and desires, and their eating habits are changing. Laurent Bliaut, Deputy Director of TF1 Publicité, points out four major food trends we will be seeing between now and 2020:
– Elitism: providing consumers with a high-quality experience that brings them true value added.
– High-Tech: instantaneous delivery, robotised services and more.
– Pop Culture: the “makers” movement, people who want to do it themselves.
– Green Consumers: CSR-oriented sustainable consumption.
Broadly speaking, consumers are increasingly well informed and pay ever-greater attention to the origins and contents of the products they buy. People are also eating and drinking in new ways: the trend in eating out is gaining momentum with, for example, a 10% increase in the number of French people that have breakfast outside their homes. This shift is further strengthened by Millennials who are eating more and more of their meals outside of their home and seeking products that are practical and easy to use.
Also noteworthy is the fact that, for most French consumers, suspicion is in the air. Indeed, according to Kantar’s “Food Usage” study, 80% of French shoppers think the products they buy can be harmful to their health. Product composition is thus a key factor in reassuring them. Special attention should be given to healthy products that undergo minimal processing, as well as to product origins. Consumers are also increasingly fond of locally sourced “farm-to-table” distribution systems.
We can easily understand that consumers are becoming increasingly proactive and socially responsible “consumer-actors” that both want to – and can – positively change the way they eat.
France: national cuisine with worldwide appeal
For French brands that wish to be active on export markets, the key to success is twofold: they must successfully adapt to the local market while maintaining the essence that that makes them distinctively French.
“The French consumer is unique in that they have a culinary heritage,” says Mathias Dosne, Managing Director of Mondelez France. “They want to enjoy food, and are careful about how natural the products are.” For Mondelez, this typically French approach is an integral part of its quest to conquer international markets: the company tailors its products to new consumer trends, such as the recent rise of snacking, while meeting ultra-demanding French quality standards.
Yet, is adapting to the unique characteristics of a local market while maintaining a distinctive French Touch enough to win over consumers around the globe? As Michel Durrieu, an advisor at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, reminds us, French gastronomy has long been a beacon that attracts visitors to the country: “Gastronomy is one of the top three highlights mentioned by tourists who come to France on vacation.” According to Véronique Rosso-Robert, CEO of Dalloyau Retail & International, this is explained by the fact that fine French cuisine is built upon the three solid pillars of credibility, creativity and taste.
French gastronomy is a big hit on foreign markets, and adapting to local consumer habits is absolutely vital. “Paying attention to the specific features of the local market is essential,” explains Jean-René Buisson, CEO of Sopexa. “Communication must be tailored to both the country and the product, as the trends we are seeing in France are not necessarily those that can be observed on a foreign market. For example, the recent craze for “-free” foods (e.g. “gluten-free” or “lactose-free” products) that is booming in France has turned out to be a big flop in China.”
*Organised by Dentsu Aegis Network and CB News,