In an analysis concerning European Consumer trends that I found on Mintel confirmed my feelings; showing that French consumers consider themselves much more fashion conscious and have a look at style at first when buying clothes, even for babies (61,3% look at style first against 41,4% of British consumers) . That is maybe why the offer for baby wear in France seem to me to be much more fashion oriented and look like adult's fashion than in England where there is a real baby fashion, very different from adults', that look much more dressy and would be worn mainly for occasions in France. That was confirmed when I asked some French mothers about what they look at first when buying garments for their babies: 7 out of 10 told me that style was the most important thing and then practicability and comfort. Also, the structure of the market is quite different: in France baby wear retailers are mainly little stores, independent or franchisees, like Petit Bateau meanwhile in Britain there are big stores like Mamas and Papas that also sell accessories like buggies or even furniture. I also noticed that British consumers tend to shop more in their favorite high street fashion retailers like H&M, Next or Gap for their babies than in France, where it is not really developed yet.
It is to be noticed first that France is ranked 2nd among countries with high birth rate, behind Ireland, with more than 800.000 births per year and with 1.92 children per woman (European average is 1.40).
Since 2000, the time of the last big baby boom in France and more particularly 2003, French need for baby wear has increased significantly (around +2% per year ) meanwhile women's wear has remained same and menswear has drop. The baby wear market is a very lucrative niche in that it represents today more than 825 millions of euros for the 0-2 year's bracket2. Moreover the budget allocated by parents to clothing for a baby between 0 and 2 years was around 600 euros in 2002 and is rising steadily every year since then.
[...] Appendix I Petit Bateau's key features and findings Competition and Marketing 1 Competition Currently, Petit Bateau is the only brand on the quality medium market bracket, thus there is a high risk that direct competitors enter the market and propose the same kind of offer. Moreover, because of them being alone in the market, they do not consider that gaining customers loyalty is very important: their loyalty card is not very interesting and they do not offer anything to their best customers. [...]
[...] Appendix C Analysis concerning competition, import/export and consumers of the French baby wear market 1 Competition It is an oligopoly that a few brands dominate (Zannier Group, DPAM Group, Okaidi Group, Petit Bateau) and where it is difficult for new brands to assert themselves. However, recently there is a tendency for high street retailers to penetrate the market: indeed it is a good way for them to diversify in a young, very lucrative market with great potential. Also, diversification is rather easy for them in that they already have the technology necessary (they were making adults' clothing and it is easy to adapt it to children or baby wear) and they have established brand names and customer loyalty as well: it is very probable that their current consumers for adults' wear will buy also for their children. [...]
[...] SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses Strategy Strategy Created in 1986: was the first baby A lot of competitors have adopted wear retailer positioned in the its strategy and positioning > same style bracket style, prices and quality, same Three complementary chains: expansion strategy DPAM Bébé for babies from birth to A lot of failures in its 2 acquisition politic > has been DPAM enfants for children from 3 passed beyond by its competitors in months to 14 matter of number of stores DPAM shoes Very wide and authoritarian ranges No media based advertising at all > Diversification strategy works by words of mouth Expansion and distribution 177 outlets worldwide and expansion strategy through affiliations and franchises Distribution Stores often very messy > not easy Implanted in many + 50.000 to find products inhabitants cities17 Very crowded stores > difficult to Location: brand easy to find shop in > difficult to move along (corners in department stores, main (quite small) or to enter with commercial places) buggies A dynamic network: politic of Stores: nothing is made for stores renovation according to a children new concept > nice stores, easy to Not a wide choice on the internet shop in Get out of stock very quickly New distribution strategy allowing the brand adapting the deliveries Products to the needs of each store (i.e. [...]
[...] - Supermarkets brands (Tex for Carrefour, Bout'chou for Monoprix) are offering the lower priced products of the market but of a very variable quality and often very classic. Appendix E Bonpoint's key features and findings Image and Products and Ranges 1 Image Because of their very preppy, timeless style, Bonpoint is most of the time classified as a brand. Indeed Bonpoint's products are often worn by children from very rich families, who convey this image as well. Also, customer service is not as good as it is expected to be in such a high quality brand stores: staff tend to ignore you or even be haughty. [...]
[...] Positioning of the main brands of the French market An analysis concerning competition, import/exports and consumers is annexed in appendix. To conclude on the market, we can say that French baby wear market is currently dominated by specialized chains like DPAM, Petit Bateau or Catimini but is more and more moving into a domination of wide diffusion chains like H&M or Zara. Thus, it appears that the middle market is losing its dominance, quartered between high street chains at lower prices and luxury brands. [...]
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