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An Analysis Of Consumer Buying Behaviour For Handmade Products In France

Feb 16, 2022 | Farnaz Farzam

Overview of consumer profile in France A crucial step in understanding the handmade market is to study the factors that affect consumer behavior. These factors could be analyzed based on different attributes including demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic. Let’s look at some of the socioeconomic and demographic factors. The population of France is 67.8 million and the largest age group is 50-59(Insee, 2022). In 2020 households' final consumption expenditure in France was 1.4 million(USD) making the country the 7th largest consumer market(Worldbank, 2021).

There is a growing trend of people paying attention to the country of origin and in order to support local businesses and economy, many people prefer to buy products made in France. There is increased attention to online sales, e-commerce and m-commerce because of the extended use of smartphones and especially in the last two years as a consequence of the pandemic. The consumers’ confidence in mass retailers is two times lower than their trust in craft products and small businesses(40% vs 80%).

Growing markets in France include automobiles, bicycles, computers, smartphones, sporting goods, home appliances and fashion accessories. Brand loyalty in France depends on the category and it is the highest in cosmetics, clothing, TV/hi-tech and the lowest in home appliances & home furnishings. Consumers are generally highly influenced by social media mostly from advertisements, users’ comments and influencers. 1 in 3 internet users in France follow an influencer and among them, 75% have purchased after an influencer’s recommendation(Santander trade, 2022).

Incentives for buying handmade in France:

Although people have different needs, preferences and motivations in buying a handmade product in France, there are some common motives that are discussed below. 

Ethical Concerns: In 2021, 72% of the French stated being prepared to modify their shopping behaviour in favour of responsible consumption(ademe,2021). Vague social and ecological policies from big corporations and increased attention to ethical consumption such as labour protection, fair trade and environmental issues concerning different stages from raw materials to design, manufacturing, packaging, logistics, consumer use, and post-use disposal, encourage customers to prefer small businesses and handmade products.

Quality values: For purchases based on personal interest and values rather than impulses, quality, aesthetic appeal and technical excellence is important. Since handmade products are made with higher attention to detail, these could satisfy these kinds of shopping behaviour.

Solidarity: To support craftsmen whose skills are invaluable and are diminishing, some groups of customers buy from these sellers.

Perceived unique value: Handmade products which are unique, custom made or produced in small batches help people in expressing distinctive differences and give a sense of prestige which is an important motivation for many French buyers. A growing quest for authenticity is noticed among the young generations of the country.

Perceived social value: Because people usually want to be considered high-minded and of the right culture, they recognise the added social value from using handmade products which are usually associated with more responsible consumption.

Fears & interests: Some customers are more vigilant and want to modify their shopping behaviour after scandals in mass production and big corporations. They prefer productions in short circuit and knowing the origins and manufacturing conditions. The French culture admires originality and art therefore products being crafted with care and unique styles are appreciated.

Challenges and recommendations for handmade sector in France:

Although there are many incentives to buy from the handmade sector, still a considerable part of these intentions to do not turn into action. This could be due to certain barriers some of which are listed below along with possible solutions:

Lack of knowledge: Not knowing where to buy quality products, being unfamiliar with a brand or store and lack of information on after sales issues, complicates shopping handmade goods. Marketing strategies such as strong online and offline presence and influencer marketing could help in increasing brand awareness.

Style concerns: Many consumers specially in fashion category perceive sustainable handmade products as old fashioned or not in line with their style of dress. That could be due to heavy advertisement by big brands influencing the consumers’ taste and perception of quality. By being reactive to customer preference and coordination between manufacturer, supplier and seller, these type of design could have a better recognition.

Price-conscious consumers: Due to the process of making handmade items, their price might be higher than a mass-produced similar. For budget-conscious consumers, this could be a hurdle. Where possible, products can be manufactured in locations with more available and less expensive labour and raw material. Also, by considering the added value and expectations, the price could be justified. For instance bearing in mind the uniqueness, ethical production and durability of a handmade item, they could be a more sustainable choice in the long term.

Intellectual property: Intellectual property is a challenge for many industries. Handmade products can sometimes be copied easily as there is not a need for advanced technology or there are not well-established regulations. There are certain organisations that help the craftsperson and businesses in protecting their designs.

Quality control: As many handmade products are not examined by a recognised organisation, this could cause uncertainty. By having the product checked by a reliable establishment and sharing user feedback, customers would buy with more confidence.

Country of origin: In some cases, customers could prefer to buy local products or be biased against products made in certain countries either because of perception of quality or impression of unfair conditions. By having quality checks, user reviews and transparency, customers can be reassured of their purchase being reasonable.

Small businesses and craftspeople thanks to the nature of their work can tailor their products and shopping experiences based on their customers’ needs, behaviour and preferences which brings them an added competitive advantage compared to mass industrial production.

As 74% of French customers are interested in knowing the environmental and societal impacts of their purchases(ademe, 2021), by being transparent and demonstrating their fair conditions and sustainability, producers and sellers of handmade products can attract more customers and help with developing handmade sector. 

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