Ageing consumers to reshape French market

17 June 2010

PARIS: The ageing of the French population should heighten demand in a number of product categories, a trend that could be repeated across Western Europe in the future.

According to a report by McKinsey, the average household in France will be "older, better educated, and less wealthy" in 2030 than at present.

The most senior member of a majority of French households is due to be 55 years old in 20 years time, the consultancy added.

The typical individual in France is also set be 43 years old by this date, when the normal household will register an annual expenditure of €40,900 ($50k; £34k).

Overall, this marks an increase from 36 years old and €27,300 respectively in 1980, and 40 years old and €34,700 in 2007.

Elsewhere, the proportion of couples who live together is likely to fall from 75% to 58% in this period, with the density of children per household declining from 3.3 to 2.5 in the same timeframe.

Looking to the economy, McKinsey forecast GDP growth of 1.5% a year in France from 2008 to 2030, measured against the rate of 2.1% recorded between 1980 and 2008.

However, domestic consumption levels, after accommodation and utilities, will fall from the average 2% rise of 1980 to 2007 to just 1.4% a year during the next two decades.

Shoppers in the 55 year old+ cohort are expected to be responsible for nearly two-thirds of this increase, with their counterparts aged 65 years old or more generating half of the total.

However, this development will largely be fuelled by the fact the French population is ageing, rather than older peoples' higher disposable incomes.

"These older households ... will individually be less wealthy than those of the rest of the population and will continue to seek value," McKinsey said.

By sector, spending in the electronics segment is estimated to rise by €87bn from 2007 to 2030, a figure that stands at €34bn for telecoms.

Food will be up by €24bn, with the automotive industry seeing a surge of €24bn, media and entertainment by €17bn, out-of-home dining by €10bn and both apparel and personal care by €7bn.

Consumers who are aged 55 or older are anticipated to account for 33% of the electronics market and 43% of the communications market in 2030, expansions of around 10% in turn on 2007.

"To address changes in consumer behavior successfully, companies must innovate, including a focus on value and an increased interest in health and wellness," McKinsey concluded.

"Companies also should note the impact of rising digital connectivity – many French consumers, even as they age, will retain their attachments to communities and social networks."

Data sourced from McKinsey; additional content by Warc staff