What is “trading down”, this new behavior that the French are adopting when shopping?

Shopping is becoming more and more complicated for households. The reason is inflation, which continues to increase the price of the shopping basket. And to save money, they do not hesitate to adopt a new way of consuming. Here’s what you need to know.

For almost two years, the French have only had one word on their lips when shopping: inflation. Yes, food prices continue to rise every month. Today, and since the remarkable start of inflation after the start of the war in Ukraine, filling your shopping cart is becoming more and more complicated. According to the latest data from INSEE published in December 2023, food prices show an increase of 12.1% over a year. Among the products that have increased the most are fresh produce, oils and meat.

If consumers cannot yet see the end of the tunnel, certain manufacturers are designated as theirs more than questionable business practices. It is e.g. the case with cheap inflation (replacing expensive ingredients with much cheaper substitutes such as additives, flavors and fats) and shrinkflation (sell lower volume products at the same price or more). Faced with all this, consumers have no choice but to review their way of consuming.

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What is “trading down”?

To try to save money In supermarkets, many households adopt a new behavior called “trade down”. Indeed it is prefer foods from cheaper ranges. A completely logical behavior that allows you to survive inflation. For example, instead of buying branded cakes, consumers are turning to private label cakes. The latter, which is also affected by inflation, always costs less than national brands.

According to Iri, the international company that analyzes consumer purchases in mass distribution, this new way of consuming is not surprising. “The price increases are such that the French can no longer move upmarket in their purchases. The first prices are more in the baskets, fresh goods and organic products are coming out. The French are even more aware of good offers and favor brands with a strong price image”, the institute states. Still according to the company, the products of distributor brands display an increase in purchases of 7.4% in 2022 when national brands are down 3%. And the trend is unlikely to reverse in the coming months.

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