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Towards the end of paper flyers for supermarkets?

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published on Sunday, December 18, 2022 at 07:00

Between ecological awareness and the soaring cost of paper, many retail chains have decided to reduce the wing in terms of prospectuses, when it is not simply a question of eliminating it.

It’s the end of an era. Food retail leader E.Leclerc announced this week in The Parisian that it would no longer distribute leaflets in mailboxes from September 2023. “Of course, there is a commercial risk. But finally, 50,000 tonnes of paper saved per year, that can only be beneficial in terms of CO2 and carbon emissions“, commented on franceinfo the president of the strategic committee of the E.Leclerc centers Michel-Edouard Leclerc. A significant announcement given the weight of the more than 700 stores under its brand.

E.Leclerc is not the first to announce the end of leaflets in its stores. Cora supermarkets had done the same, with entry into force from January 10, 2023, and Casino group brandsFranprix and Monoprix, very established in cities where the relevance of the prospectus is less than in more rural areas, have not distributed them for several years.

All the brands have already reduced the sails. Carrefour plans to go digital “80%” of its catalogs “from 2024”The group specifies that it has ceased distribution in Paris and Lyon, but explains that it is “against waste, not against the catalog”, and says that it sends a paper catalog by post to customers who have requested it. At Intermarché, 240 of its 1,850 stores will go fully digital in January.

On his side, System U President Dominique Schelcher said this week that he will reduce the number of prospectuses by 30% in the first half of 2023, but does not intend to completely stop, explaining want to “leave the free choice to the customer”. “I may assume to be the last to still offer a prospectus,” he said.

What motives?

This movement responds to three motivations, believes Laurent Landel, president of Bonial, which sells stores a digital communication solution for consumers.

“First of all, environmental awareness of consumers”then “the unbearable inflation of the cost of paper pulp”. Because, at about 20 cents per prospectus, it’s a real budget, which is counted “in hundreds of thousands of euros” for a single hypermarket. Last point, the digital breakthrough which has relegated the information channel that is the letterbox to the background.

Why do some persist?

Just look at the comments on the Facebook page of E.Leclerc to understand the reluctance of some store owners to do without flyers. “It’s good, but it’s still too early for some” elderly people, says a user, while another judges the decision “damage”. “I like to watch and compare, a few moments of relaxation in the evening”.

“We have already started the reductions of the prospectuses, for ecological but also economic reasons”, explains for his part a spokesperson for System U to AFP. “In town, it’s true that a customer who doesn’t have a car won’t have fun comparing prices with the store 5 km away. But in rural areas, where a store may have in its area of caters to significant competition” allows the merchant to “manifest himself, to exist”, he justifies himself. In addition, not all flyers are equal, he believes, citing the Christmas catalog which “can be used for the letter to Santa Claus” for example.

What consequences?

The movement seems inevitable, observes Claude Charpin, general manager of the Dékuple agency specializing in digital communication. “When you see the small number of people who put the ‘yes pub’ sticker in the areas where the device is being tested…” This experiment, provided for in the Climate and Resilience law of 2021 and underway for 31 months, takes place in about fifteen municipalities or communities of municipalities. It prohibits the distribution of printed advertising by default, unless consumers have stuck the words “Oui pub” on their mailbox. Auchan confirms that this device “accelerates” the digitization of prospectuses.

There are still many ways to reach loyal or potential customers. “Display, radio, why not TV”, enumerates Claude Charpain. Not to mention the online presence or the “promotional communication by email and SMS”.

This does not suit the prospectus sector, already socially damaged and which weighs some 20,000 direct jobs. In addition, digital communication “is far from neutral in terms of carbon emissions”, observes Laurent Landel, from Bonial.

As part of the “Oui Pub” experiment, Ademe must conduct a study “compared to the environmental impact of advertising campaigns by means of print distribution and those carried out digitally”. Result expected in the second half of 2024, the agency told AFP.

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