French consumers are reducing their purchases of personal hygiene and household products due to the rising prices of popular brands like P&G and Unilever, according to data compiled for Reuters. This shift in consumer behavior could become a new battleground for retailers, politicians, and consumer goods manufacturers who have been grappling with food price issues. The data reveals that the overall sales volume for items such as tampons, laundry detergent, shower gel, dishwashing products, and toilet paper declined in the year leading up to September 17. The prices for these goods in supermarkets were considerably higher compared to the same period last year. As a result, consumers are increasingly turning to private label alternatives and are adapting their habits by consuming less or using smaller quantities of these products.
The French government, led by President Emmanuel Macron, is set to address grocery inflation in its budget announcement, proposing legislation to bring forward annual negotiations between food producers and supermarkets. By bringing the negotiation timeline forward, the government hopes to implement price cuts from January 15 instead of the usual start date of March 1. Food manufacturers like Nestle and Pepsico have faced criticism from supermarkets and politicians for not cooperating in pricing negotiations and reducing the size of their product packages. Carrefour, France’s second-largest supermarket operator, has even begun labeling products that have reduced in size without any accompanying price cuts as “shrinkflation.”
The NielsenIQ data also indicates a shift in consumer preferences towards private label goods, with volumes for these products increasing while sales of big brand items decline. For instance, shower gel volumes dropped by 6% overall and 10% for big brands, whereas private label products saw a 14% rise. Similarly, although laundry detergent volumes were down by about 2% across the category and fell 10% for big brands, private label brands experienced a surge of 28%. This change in purchasing behavior extends beyond personal care products to include tampons, dishwashing products, laundry detergent, and toilet paper. While consumer goods companies have remained relatively silent on this issue, trade groups have been actively voicing their frustrations.