French market shows evolving tissue trends are helping to buck a gloomy European marketplace

By Tissue World magazine editor Helen Morris

As a Francophile it doesn’t surprise me in the least that French shoppers are bucking the trend, in more ways than one.

The standard model economic theory has it that when times are gloomy consumers trade down, but in France we see that the opposite has happened. SCA’s premium brand Moltonel has, for example, fared better than the mid-priced Lotus.

And at the point of sale, creative retailers have come up with a new way of doing things which savvy shoppers obviously fancy: select your tissue product on the internet and collect your bulk purchase at drive-through superstores. French design excellence on show.

TWM’s brilliant cover shows how bulk-bought tissue can grace a room. And while the retail channel’s value share is still fairly small – jumping from 3% in 2012 to 4-5% in 2014 – over the last couple of years it has become more and more of a key buying tool for tissue in France.

It will be interesting to see how this trend develops in France and takes off elsewhere.

It’s true, times are gloomy, relatively. French exceptionalism has taken a bit of a battering: morale is low, living costs outstripping wages, unemployment high, dissatisfaction with the political elite, economy stagnating, the euro and the EU itself – an enterprise of much pride for this founding partner – struggling.

Of course 2014 was the year of the discount. Giant promotions on huge family packs of toilet paper and bumper kitchen towels paradoxically enabling consumers to make the trade up to premium products.

The result: retail tissue saw 2% volume and value growth to reach €1,754m.

The private label/brands battle is intense: private label supreme in retail tissue at 61% value share; branded players chipping away at that edifice but at a cost of reduced margins; private label countering by producing more premium products with little immediate effect.

That market cannot be sustained for the longer term and a rebalancing must follow. This and the next year will be testing. Price discounting has to come to an end at some point. Manufacturers need the economy to come to the rescue, and the sooner the better.

Tissue World Barcelona 2015

TWM would like to offer a very warm welcome to all those in Barcelona for Tissue World 2015! We take great pride in bringing you a show floor full of the industry’s key movers and shakers as well as a conference programme that keeps you informed and offers you a wide variety of talks to help you forecast for the years ahead.

Above all, we bring you Tissue World 2015 to help you meet the people that are going to be key to your business and its technologies over the coming years. We would like to thank you and the wonderful city of Barcelona for your support.

For those of you who can’t attend, TWM will be producing bulletins during the show and will also give coverage of a handful of the key talks in the May/June issue of the magazine.

We also say goodbye to Barcelona this March as we move to the heart of the tissue industry for Tissue World 2017 – held in the glorious Italian city of Milan.

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