The Hypermarkets have to re-invent themselves

For several weeks, bad news has been coming from the supermarket sector, in a context, according to Carrefour, of "the necessary transformation of the hypermarket model". A clear statement for a brand that started the first store in this format in 1963, in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois (Essonne).
This supposed "crisis", Michel-Edouard Leclerc, the boss of the E. Leclerc centres, sweeps it away in a few words on his blog: "Carrefour coughing, Casino sneezing, Auchan crying: to hear columnists in some media, it is the end of a world: that of hypermarkets, and even of mass distribution". But "just because hypermarkets that are now considered too large and unsuitable are closed, does not mean that each of these brands is in danger," he adds.

Another must-see place for the French
"For twenty years, we have been told that the hypermarket is coming to an end and yet it still weighs extremely heavily today: it is still the main place where the French buy," adds Christophe Burtin, partner in the strategy consulting firm Kea and Partners.
According to the latest survey by the Kantar panelist in April, while their penetration rate on consumer products is still around 50% (47.9%), their market share is down 0.2 points year-on-year.
Born in an era "quite different from today's, when mass consumption reigns" and during which the "traditional" family is the norm, with a fairly large middle class and very eager to own, hypermarkets dominated the post-war period, Christophe Burtin stressed in an interview with AFP.
The society then responds "to the unfortunate experience of scarcity and deprivation" with "a model of life and consumption on which we will play with the lever of abundance", explains sociologist Stéphane Hugon to the AFP.

Competition from delivery services
Why is this model no longer working as well as it used to? The consumer "realized that he was alone in front of his box of peas" and that there was "a relational poverty in the experience" proposed by the supermarket distribution, explains the sociologist.
According to Christophe Burtin, this "rupture" is also explained by the existence of increasingly smaller households, radically changing consumer trends, a France that cuts itself off "between very stricken areas and others with strong purchasing power and dynamics" and the development of delivery services that make it possible to avoid the sacrosanct Saturday outing in the supermarket.
Previously, we were witnessing a race for low prices, "today, these elements are being challenged" by consumers who "are going very fast", while "hypermarkets remain large machines" that are difficult to malleable, stresses Christophe Burtin.
"What people are looking for now is the meeting, the social bond, the history of the product," adds Stéphane Hugon. It is on this theme that Alexandre Bompard, the CEO of Carrefour - and its 248 hypermarkets in France - has focused his transformation plan, with particular attention paid to food.
Makes sense. In a recent study, Nielsen estimated that the market share of organic products in hypermarkets and supermarkets would be around 4.7% in 2019 (+20% over one year).

At the same time, the distribution groups are also turning to the agreement of "concessions" with other brands ("shops-in-shops"), generally non-food, and the addition of services.
Because "the hypermarket of tomorrow is both a store and a place to live, on a human scale, which offers a range of products and services targeted according to the location or type of customer," says Tina Schuler, the general manager of the Géant Casino, Casino Supermarkets, Casino Proximités and Leader Price brands.
A statement shared by Auchan, who has just opened its third "Lifestore" in Luxembourg with which the brand "changes its paradigm", promising "much more than a store": "a popular destination for families to shop, of course, but also to eat, take care of themselves and have fun".
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