With over 55 million internet users, France has the world’s 10th largest online population. 55.7% of French people use the internet through their smartphones, and 29.1% through their tablets. These figures show that brands have big opportunities to target online consumers in order to either raise their brand awareness or convert an existing audience into paying customers.
Let’s have a deeper look at the French Internet User in 2015.
According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, the primary internet user is under 34 years old, with 93% of this age group going online at least once a day. 89% of 35-44 year-olds and 72% of the over-45s are also online daily. Despite the differences between age brackets, we can see that a large part of the French population is a frequent internet user across the entire nation.
As a matter of fact, the internet is now the first place that 83% of consumers go in order to research products.
Furthermore, in 2015, the French internet user is a multiscreen one. He has on average 2.5 connected devices and 61% of the time is online while watching TV, either with a computer (51%), smartphone (49%) or tablet (28%).
Despite the high levels of time spent online, the French do not necessarily want to buy online, rather they are first conducting research to compare products and services (51%). By also seeking advice and reviews through search engines (45%), they are effectively laying the foundations for their purchase. Almost two thirds of French consumers state that their first source of product awareness before purchasing was online.
Travel and transportation industries (flight tickets, travel over land and hotel bookings) account for three quarters of the topics researched on Google. The same proportion off the population also focuses their searches on electronic devices such as laptops, mobile phones and TVs.
Other popular targets include: home appliances and home furnishings, money related topics (property, personal loans and car insurance), and leisure activities (cinema tickets, music and restaurants).
The Consumer Journey
The French internet journey begins through search engines: 45% use one* to look for information about products before making a purchase, instead of going directly to brand websites (24%) or retailer websites (18%). 7 out of 10 people consider only one to three brands before buying a product. This shows that they do not want to spend too much time searching online and they already have a good idea of what they want when they start looking for something online. As a result, competition is high and brands should make concerted efforts to ensure SERP ranking position and therefore market position.
However, despite over half of the French conducting online research, only 50% of these actually finalise their purchase online, with the other 50% preferring to buy in store. These figures show that eCommerce sites need to work on building trust in order to raise the conversion rate and not only be a source of information.
To achieve this, they should created optimised landing pages, develop reviews and testimony sections and/or offer online insurance services and highlight it on their website. They also need to develop their market expertise in order to raise their brand awareness and make the consumer feel safer.
That said, there is a direct relationship between the most researched topics and those with a higher online conversion rate than offline:
- Flights (leisure): 73% research, 73% purchase online
- Hotels: 67%
- Transport: 59%
- Mobile phones: 39%
- Music: 39%
- Home furnishings: 31%
- Clothing & footwear: 29%
This demonstrates that even if the French Internet user can be trepid at times, he is still ready to spend money online when he is trusting and may find it more convinient to purchase products and services.
*93.5% of the search engines market shares belong to Google, 2.6% to Yahoo!, 2.4% to Bing.
Focus On The Smartphone User
Up to the age of 44, smartphone usage rate is above 80%. Amongst these users, 50% are using search engines via their smartphones at least once a week.
For 41% of French smartphone users, their device is used to look for early inspiration, and 33% actively seek advice online. Encouragingly, 21% who used online research proceeded to make an immediate purchase.
This shows that brands have to think “responsive” when developing their website to automatically cater for mobiles and tablets.
In conclusion, these figures show that there are many opportunities that brands can take advantage of in order to target online customers. With digital marketing expenses increasing every year, we can say that companies and brands understand the stake available and the impact content marketing and SEO have, and we can foresee that best practices should be increasingly implemented in France in 2016.