ANDREEA MIHAI

 | 

CARREFOUR ROMANIA SA

  |  10.06.2013

Addressing a rational informed consumer

If I were to describe the consumer in 2 words, and I am referring here to the consumer in the medium segment, I would say he is a "rational informed". But until labeling him this way, I’d like to start by highlighting some major steps in his transformation, namely the periods 1990-2002, 2003-2008 and 2009-2012.

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ANDREEA MIHAI

ANDREEA MIHAI

MARKETING MANAGER at CARREFOUR ROMANIA SA

Throughout all these years we have witnessed a dramatic but at the same time natural change in attitude towards consumption and personal budget, in general.

 

Changes targeted both consumption and shopping habits on one hand and the attitude towards stores and retail in general, the level of communication and the expectations, on the other.

 

Going back to the first period I mentioned, 1990-2002, this was a difficult time for the Romanian consumer. Caught between the explosion of imports and the surging inflation, he still showed a massive interest in new things and proved himself open, yet without much discernment. His enthusiasm was only tempered by the low purchasing power. However, 1998 was the first peak of consumption, peak to be barely topped merely five years later (in 2003).

 

1999 wasthe beginning of a shorter period of slow consumption, which also marked our debut on the market. In 2001 we opened the first hypermarket in Romania, located in Bucharest, facilitatingthe general public’s access to modern trade. The need for change felt among the population translated into the enthusiasm with which consumers received this new store format.

 

Is still remember the euphoria of the opening, when our customers’ reactions amazed and delighted us at the same time. Despite the tough economic context, this was a period of abundance rediscovery, of unraveling a store format that was only seen abroad or in magazines; and weare talking here about the same consumer open to new, who met brands and embraced them.

 

Back then, buyers were thrilled to spend time in the new shopping center even if they could not afford all the products on the shelves (let’s not forget that inflation at the end of 2001 was 30.3% and the minimum income, of about 55 euros).


Price, though rarely expressed, was the most important buying criteria. For consumers, price made the difference between what and how much they could buy and at the same time it was a way of evaluating items, while retailers became more and more aware that in the minds of consumers, the price shaped the image and the whims slowly turned into necessity.

 

2003 was another banner year for consumption and the onset of the first wave of retail expansion in Romania, that that lasteduntil 2008.

 

We opened several supermarkets and thenstepped away from Bucharest to meet consumers in Transylvania and Moldavia. Other competitors entered the market, new formats began to develop (supermarkets, discount stores or online even if and a discreet fashion) and so, the share of modern retail took a big leap from the 19% in 2004 to 41% in 2008 (acc. to GfK Romanian Retail Report).

 

It was a time of major turning point. The prior uninformed consumer, who was willing for more than 10 years to accept without many questions any imported product, even if he could not understand the labels, suddenly gained Internet access and began using IT technologies to his own benefit, being more and more concerned (under the influence of mass media) with his comfort and health. The consumer began to emancipate.

 

Then, the entering of a new period occurred. Peoplemade plans and their dreams were fueled by the new products onthe market that were now within reach. Aspirations overlapping the favorable economic environment (+5% economic growth, reaching 8.5% in 2004 and 7.9% in 2006) triggered the explosion of mortgage and consumer loans.

 

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