New media, targeted promotions… how leaflets are reinventing themselves

5 minutes

Press coverage by Le Parisien on 06.08.2023

Paris, lundi 26 août 2019. Illustration Courrier  Boîte aux lettres

Press coverage: New media, targeted promotions… how leaflets are reinventing themselves


Franprix, Cora, Leclerc… While more and more retailers are announcing the end of their paper catalogs, industry leaders are looking to bounce back, particularly with digital promotions.

Can’t stand seeing those flyers overflowing your neighbor’s mailbox? Launched at the beginning of April, the “150 euros” magazine may have found the answer: send the week’s special offers, in paper or digital form, only to those who have requested it.

Three months on, this gamble seems to be on the right track: “We already have 4.5 million subscribers, 60% of whom have opted for paper, and 40% for digital”, enthuses Éric Paumier, President of Milee, the company that publishes “150 euros”, which specializes in local communications and promotions. He is betting on “10 to 12 million new subscribers” by the end of 2023.

The promise is tantalizing: not only is the subscription free, but 150 euros would be the amount saved each month by a family skilfully choosing its promotions. “Our aim is twofold: economic and environmental,” explains Éric Paumier.

Economic, because in these times of flagging purchasing power, “1 in 3 French people still use advertising magazines to find out where they’re going to do their shopping”, points out Romain Charles, CEO of Lucky Cart, a start-up that helps retailers optimize their promotions. It’s also environmentally friendly, as only a small proportion of French people still want to receive their promotional offers in paper form. By 2021, according to the French Agency for Ecological Transition (Ademe), only… 766,000 tonnes. Quite a waste.

A market in freefall

The association Que choisir, which examined the magazine, is hardly enthusiastic: “Its eight pages of articles, advice, featureless interviews and games offer little to the reader. In fact, the only attraction of 150 euros is that it comes with a wide selection of promotional catalogs from local retailers (Carrefour, Auchan, Aldi, E. Leclerc and others).”

But did Milee (ex-Adrexo, Hopps Group), which has 11,000 employees, really have a choice? In a sector in freefall, anticipating the inevitable has become a matter of survival. “Since 2018, the leaflet market has plummeted from €2.6 billion to €1.9 billion,” recalls Élisabeth Cony, founder of Madame Benchmark, and an expert in retailer marketing strategies. And the trend is accelerating. “In 2022, our sales have been cut by 10%, and it will be even worse in 2023”, agrees the management of Mediapost, a subsidiary of La Poste and the sector leader with two-thirds of sales in value, and 7,000 employees.

It has to be said that, given the soaring cost of paper in 2021 and 2022, more and more retailers have decided to stop their printed advertising. This is the case for Casino Group banners such as Franprix and Monoprix (which are urban, and where consumers’ mailboxes are protected by digicodes), as well as Cora since January 2023.

Leading supermarket chain E. Leclerc has set a target date of September 2023. We’re going to save “the equivalent of eight times the weight of the Eiffel Tower”, enthused Michel-Edouard Leclerc in our columns at the end of 2022. Intermarché and Auchan, for their part, have cut back, while Carrefour is forecasting an 80% cut by the end of 2024.

Political pressure intensifies

Political pressure mounts The idea? Whereas today, some French people receive between five and fifteen paper catalogs a week, these would only be distributed to residents who put a Oui Pub sticker on their letterbox. A little over a year after the launch of this test, the results are clear: on average, in eight territories, “the rate of affixing this sticker fluctuates between 20 and 30%, (…) and is even below 10% in five other territories”, summarizes Ademe. A full evaluation will be submitted to Parliament at the end of 2024.

Political pressure intensifies

But the key to adapting the sector will be digitalization, which will enable promotional offers to be tailored to individual needs. “Retailers will collect loyalty data to target large families, senior executives and cat owners. Then they’ll use several levers – addressed mail, e-mail, etc. – to solicit them”, explains Claude Charpin, Managing Director of Dékuple, a data marketing agency, for whom “SMS is the most effective formula”.

An example of this new type of canvassing: “When a consumer opens their Carrefour app, they are directly offered discounts on diapers”, illustrates Laurent Landel. 3 million Carrefour customers already have access to these personalized promotions.

We’re moving towards greater hybridization of our solutions, to reach all types of consumer,” confirms Mediapost. As for “150€”, subscribers who have opted for the digital version can access leaflets online

The offer is not exhaustive – Lidl is not included – and, despite geolocation, catalogs are not yet presented in order of proximity. “And 80% of digital promotions are carried out not via websites, but via apps,” laments one expert.

That’s good news: “In September, we’ll be launching an app. And before long, our subscribers will not only be able to select their favorite stores, but will also be offered a feature that will tell them where to go shopping, based on their shopping list”, promises Éric Paumier.

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