Every year since 2010, the strategy consulting firm OC&C publishes a ranking of France’s favorite retailers. This year, the five most popular brands are, in descending order: Grand Frais, Decathlon, Cultura, Picard and Fnac. Biocoop is the first organic food retail company to appear in the ranking. At number 6. Another proof of today’s concern for sustainability and safety. Another important fact is the absence of any e-shopping brands in the top 10 list. Amazon used to be part of it in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. It came in at twelfth place.

What are the lessons from this study? That France’s favorite retailers are not necessary the oldest on their markets. Good news. The ranking reflects the moment’s expectations. The fact that Grand Frais is at number one underlines the importance of the products’ origin in the consumer experience. Grand Frais stages a very short supply chain, values local producers and reproduces the atmosphere of a farmers’ market. Bingo! After Grand Frais come four other brands that have existed for so long that their disappearing would have been worrying.

Amazon has just (relatively) slipped, and this is the study’s other lesson. Because Amazon is not only an e-shopping site, it’s also a company whose image is somehow contestable, in particular when their working conditions are mentioned. The fact that Amazon lost the top spot tells us that consumers are now integrating retailers’ social and sustainable profiles in their decision making process. We can also understand that physical contact with the brand is once again necessary. The proof is the high number of web sites opening real shops in the real world.

Finally, the ranking analysis wouldn’t be complete is it didn’t consider the offer. The brands that are positioned in the rating have developed an exclusive and unique specialization within a particular product, service or atmosphere. What is Amazon’s point of difference? Their price, their choice, their delivery? It’s probably enough to trigger the desire to buy (sometimes). But not enough to associate an distinctive territory, able to create brand preference.

So What ?

Yesterday, the service and dedication of the salespeople. Today, addressing the demand for transparency and the expectation of social responsibility. The OC&C ranking is also a barometer.

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