Fine food : are labels essential for consumers ?

Gourmet products such as oils, teas, coffees and herbal infusions are proving to be increasingly popular in France. Consumers appear to be placing ever-higher demands on the origins and flavours of products for which they are willing to pay a higher price than for a standard product. The certification label therefore becomes a marker for consumers increasingly in search of fine food products. Consumer behaviour is approaching that of wine enthusiasts, ranging from the beginner to the most experienced oenologist. These consumers are on the lookout for vintages and are highly knowledgeable about PDOs and up to date on all the key developments in the wine sector.

AVPA, the French agency for the promotion of agricultural products (Agence pour la valorisation des produits agricoles) analyses customer behaviour and delivers trains to shop owners in these new purchasing and tasting trends. At Gourmet Selection 2019, AVPA organised a talk alongside its fine food competition, aimed at specialist retailers.

 

LABELS: THE FIRST STEP IN A COHERENT PURCHASE FOR THE CONSUMER

On supermarket shelves, certification labels are effective tools to help consumers choose their product: for example they can filter the information they come across in a cooking oils section by reading about the awards that a product may have won, or the origin of its raw materials. In this case, the label is a pertinent certification, a sign of quality that sets it apart from several other products. It is useful in a supermarket setting, as there are no dedicated and specifically trained sales assistants in the aisles to advise customers.

 

SOPHISTICATED CONSUMPTION THANKS TO FINE FOOD

Customers behave differently in a delicatessen shop. They visit specialist shops to get accurate information on a certified product or find out why a particular product is sold in the shop. Customers rely on the specialist skills of the grocer.

This is where AVPA can help. During this talk, the speakers explained their role to salespeople: to help them develop a consistent sales approach and generate customer loyalty. The first obvious steps are their contact with the customer and their expertise in terms of advice prior to purchase.

One of the speakers adds that “People who run a shop have a duty to build product ranges that cater to consumer needs.” As is already the case for wine in France, the salesperson must convey a culture of sophistication in the products they sell, whether it be coffee from a variety of origins, a range of vegetable oils or explanations on tea infusion.

Tasting sessions are also an excellent opportunity to provide further information to the most loyal customers. The shopkeeper must also be attentive to the period of the year, the region in which they are established and the purpose of the purchase: is it a gift, when is it likely to be consumed?

 

GOURMET PRODUCTS, A LUXURY PURCHASE?

Drinking tea that has been correctly brewed, a coffee whose origins you know, or buying a locally produced oil is part of the sales culture of fine food.

There are plenty of reasons to support the posture of an aficionado of these premium products, such as consuming food that supports sustainability, is deemed healthy or uses less packaging. “Beyond genuine foodies who are looking for gourmet products, vanity is an essential driver to accept and buy gourmet products.” Social distinction is considered a reason to buy and consume a certified olive oil or drink of any type.

Today, consumers do not simply pour dressing over a salad: they display the oil they use. They show off their wide range of capsules before they offer their guests a coffee. The speakers at this talk who discussed this concept showed the professionals in attendance that taking this approach into consideration may help to free up purchases which are as yet hesitant in France.

For example, consumers spending is lower in France than in Germany, where certification and its promotion are more substantial. For producers, cooperatives or retailers, France does not
have an easily understandable fine food market.

 

Speakers: Philippe JUGLAR, Jean-Emmanuel JOURDE, Lauren PASCAULT and Quentin ROUYER, AVPA

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