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Market research : evolution of food purchasing behaviors on the French market

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Every 7 years French institue Anses releases a major study on the evolution of nutrition and food/drink habits on the French market.
We reviewed their latest 2017 report (2014-2015 study) and have compiled some insights we found particularly interesting in the framework of our market research projects.

Interesting general conclusions

  • transformed food is consumed more and more through all segments of the population compared to the 2006-2007 study
  • the number of consumers of dietary supplements has increased 50% between the 2006-2007 study (INCA2 study) and 2014-2015
  • consumption of local food has become a widespread habit that regards as much as 75% of the population, 2/3 on a weekly basis
  • when compared to younger generations, people aged 65 to 79 have more regular eating habits and consume more home made food and less diatery supplements and transformed food
  • more educated people have habits that tend to be nearer recommendations in terms of eating (more fruits, more sugar-free drinks), physical activity (more activity) and weight (less overweight)

Conclusions related to purchasing behaviors

In terms of purchasing behavior, the report delivers a series of extremely useful results and conclusions which every market research on the food / drink sector should take into account.

  • in terms of food, the study shows that the most important antecedents of purchases remain price (48%), habits (43%), taste (38%) and product origin (38%). The more educated the consumer, the more the following criteria are put forward by the respondent to guide him/her in his/her purchases : product origin, production, ingreditents, signs of quality. As a note we think it’s very important important for marketers to understand what signs of quality are and how to take them into account in the product design phase.
  • product novelty is the less important criteria to decide on a food / drink purchase according to respondent. This result holds accross all education segments
  • a minority of children read food labels prior to purchase. The list of ingredients is the information most read by kids aged 15-17. For those who rarely read labels, nutritional claims and benefits are the least consulted pieces of information ; for those who read labels on a more regular basis, nutrition facts are the least consulted pieces of information
  • Among adults approximately 50% declare reading or having a look at labels or packaging before purchasing food or drinks : 12% declare doing it systematically, 37% regularly. how much people are interested in reading labels is directly correlated to their age the Anses study shows. Older people (65-79) read labels more frequently than younger generations do.
  • Remarkable differences have been highlighted between Northern and Southern France. Consumers from the northern part of the country are more sensitive ti price promotions and read labels less than their southern counterparts
  • the study proces than nutritional claims and alleged benefits put forward on the packaging directly influence purchase behavior. Moreover, the older the consumer the more attention he/she dedicates to health-related claims and marketing messages


The 524-page Anses report is a gold mine for market researchers and would-be entrepreneurs wishing to investigate the food and drink market. Not only does it provide a thorough and scientifically validated picture of a whole country (France) but it also highlights the evolution of society over the 3 studies that have already been carried out over almost 2 decades.
In terms of market research keep in mind that governmental bodies are a very good source of information, one that may be trusted and relied upon. If you want to get more tips about conducting a market research, don’t forget to read our 3-part article on the subject : the secrets of market research part 1, part 2 and part 3.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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