An insight into female shoppers in France

Shopping is generally thought of as a typically feminine activity and female consumers have gained the reputation of being shopaholics! However, we are now seeing a number of changes. The economic situation in France has become more complicated in recent years, purchasing power is a worry for many households, and new technology is evolving … How are women responding to these changes? What shopping habits do they have in 2013? Have their expectations and attitudes changed? Are Smartphones and e-commerce now an integral part of their purchases?

In answer to these questions, in June 2013, Unibail-Rodamco launched a Shopping Observatory, in partnership with Ipsos, to try and understand French women and their shopping patterns, their motivations, what holds them back, their indulgences, as well as future trends. (1)

Shopping provides a haven in times of crisis

The current economic crisis has really affected consumers. The French are very concerned about the economic climate. For example, 84% of respondents report that they now « pay much more attention » to their spending habits than in the past and 73% of them even claim that they stop themselves making unnecessary purchases « more often than before.” Nevertheless, shopping is still one of the most popular activities for the women surveyed: 2 out of 3 say they enjoy shopping.

It is a sacred time for many women. 42% go shopping to « clear their heads, » « relax » or « have some time for themselves. » For some, shopping is even a priority. In fact, one in three shoppers are willing to tighten their belts for several weeks so that they can go shopping and « buy expensive products, which makes it really fun. »

The perfect shopping trip is full of deals, surprises and dreams

The key factors to being a successful shopper can be summed up in three points: finding bargains, wanting to be surprised and the need to be inspired. In fact French women prefer to make rational and economic purchases and therefore look for bargains. 63% of respondents reported that they spend a lot of time searching for the best deals (discount codes, free samples, competitive prices…), 68% do the majority of their shopping during sales. Consumers are also looking for originality and their dreams coming true. Women want to be surprised by brands. 60% agree saying; « I need to be surprised, able to dream. » Finally, shoppers are looking for inspiration when they buy or go window shopping. 54% say they love being on top of the latest trends and finding new inspiration.

Finally, according to respondents, the perfect shopping experience still very much comes from actually going to shops. 59% of them listed shopping centres in first or second out of places to go shopping. Shops in town centres come in second with 55% of the vote, and the internet is third with 40% of women choosing shopping online as their shopping venue of choice.

A rundown of shoppers: from the perfectionist to the stay at home

One of the key results that came from the Shopping Observatory was the variety of different types of shoppers. While women are often portrayed as ‘shopping addicts,’ the reality is much more complex. Ipsos and Unibail-Rodamco outlined 7 types of shoppers, with different motivations and expectations.

Five types of women who really enjoy shopping, but their enjoyment is of a very different nature:

• The Perfectionist (20% of respondents in the sample): For the perfectionist, shopping is a detailed activity. It is an enjoyable pastime, but long-term it is for her to find the best products at the best prices. She takes her time searching for purchases and uses the internet to track down the most competitive deals. Taking every detail into account, she looks at the best price, the maximum amount of information, the best quality. In other words, the whole package. She really appreciates brand transparency. She strives for perfection and aims to keep to her original budget.

• Social (11%): For the social shopper, shopping is most importantly a source of entertainment and a chance to share a moment. The shopping experience is crucial; she doesn’t intend to be alone in this hobby. For her the most important aspects are well-being, discovering new things and most importantly, human contact, sharing the experience, either with friends, or with other shoppers.

The fun lover (22%): The fun-loving shopper is looking to enjoy herself, she wants to relax. Shopping is her outlet: it’s the best way to let off steam. She loves shopping alone and prefers going to shops in person. She’s not a fan of online shopping and emotional and psychological factors encourage her to buy. They win her over and budget does not hold her back. Shop windows are also essential in her eyes, she likes them to be renewed regularly and convey her dreams.

• The serial shopper (10%): Always on the lookout for new styles, she is a shopping expert. She spends a lot of money and can spend days looking for the best opportunities. She is at the forefront of new trends (fashion, technology, etc..) and always looking for new products. She’s looking for quality. Exclusive offers are her greatest pleasure. She likes to test, discover and is a social network expert.

• The mobile geek (8%): This shopper is the most advanced with technology. She likes to combine the real and the virtual to find the best deals. She explores and shares her findings on social networks. Shopping, for her, is above all an experience.

More surprisingly, 29% of women don’t enjoy « going shopping. » The Shopping Observatory outlined two types of women who don’t associate shopping with having fun; the allergic and the home shopper.

• Allergic (19%): She is not at all interested in shopping. The experience gives her absolutely no pleasure. Instead, it is a chore that she has to do when she really needs to update her stuff.

• The home shopper(10%): She does not like going round shops. For her, shopping is a nightmare. Not comfortable, she prefers staying at home and using the internet to shop. She makes rational decisions. She makes bulk purchases online to save money. She is also a big fan of delivery.

Digital services are the new shopping companions

French shoppers are mixing digital shopping more and more with in store shopping. In fact, one in two women surveyed researches information on the internet before buying a product in store, regardless of age. Another advantage of digital devices is the delivery service. 30% of French women have used delivery service before, and 36% haven’t yet would be interested in doing.

While digital technology helps women find information, or to order deliveries, it also provides a chance for shoppers to use their Smartphone as personal shopping assistants.

One in three women in France would use their Smartphone for optional alerts and to get advice. 13% of respondents already get barcode alerts when they shop and 28% would be interested in this.

While Smartphones are very useful for giving and seeking advice, other uses are developing, such as mobile payment transfers. Although still a minority, 19% of French women favour this. More popular was sharing content on social networks which interested 10% of respondents.

As a huge source of information, the web is an ideal shopping resource for gathering information. 1 in 5 women aged 16-24, say that they are influenced by blogs, applications or social networks when they are shopping.

 Whether they are « perfectionists » or « serial shoppers, » nowadays female shoppers are looking for the full shopping experience. The “Shopping Observatory” analysis also identified several different aspects which motivate buyers: emotion (pleasure), rationality (the perfectionist), sharing (user-friendly), new technologies (the geek), etc. . This last point shows a lot of promise in developing the shopping experience. Modernising loyalty strategies via Smartphones, offering fun and useful applications, increasing buying opportunities through barcode promotions, just to name a few tools available to brands to reach the lives of their consumers.

Observatoire Du Shopping : Tendances 2013 : la valeur plaisir plus que jamais au cœur de l’expérience shopp… by Ipsos France



The Unibail Rodamco / Ipsos Shopping Observatory was conducted on a representative sample of 1,004 French women aged 16 to 70, surveyed between 3 to 16 May 2013, via the Ipsos Online Access Panel. Quota method (age, occupation of the respondent, region and size of town). In this observatory, « shopping » is defined as the act of going into a store to walk around or to buy products other than common groceries. golden goose boots

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