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We interviewed Sarah Hynes, lead researcher for L2’s inaugural personal care France study. She says one of the biggest nuances in the French market is the prioritization of click and collect or “Drive”, over e-commerce. Major supermarkets have over 3,000 pick-up points in the country, more than the number of hypermarkets.

Hynes says home-delivery e-commerce in France lags behind other countries such as the UK, but it was a strong point for many of the Genius and Gifted brands in the Index. Nivea shined in e-commerce even though it was strong in all categories.

And last, Oral-B questioned the notion that social media activity is indispensable to a digitally-savvy brand. It placed fourth in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Personal Care France, with no Facebook presence and strong e-commerce.

Full Q&A with Hynes below:

This is L2’s first personal care study that focuses on the European market. (L2 has published studies on China and US Personal Care.) What are some of the nuances in the French personal care market?

The French e-tailer environment for Personal Care is very different from other markets. The French have pioneered “Drive” (click and collect), where the major supermarkets have over 3,000 pick-up points in the country, which is more than the number of hypermarkets. The fulfillment is more advanced than other countries, however the online experience is behind places like the UK, with limited with limited ratings and reviews and other product page features such as multiple images and videos.

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Nivea topped the inaugural Personal Care France Index. What strategy differentiated it from all other brands? 

Nivea was strong across all dimensions but really shined in e-commerce. It consistently ranked highly in search visibility on Amazon and supermarkets, and has made investments in product pages on Amazon. E-tailer hand-off on the website product pages was seamless. It also had a dedicated section on its website with printable coupons to capture customer data and drive in-store sales.

Were there any surprises in this study?

Oral-B performed very strongly in e-commerce, which pushed it up to 4th place. It had very high visibility on e-tailers and good hand-off on its site to multiple e-tailers. However, it had made very limited investments in social media, where it is only present on Facebook. This is surprising, because brands who perform in the top ten are usually strong across all dimensions.

How much did scale affect Digital IQ scores among personal care brands in France?

Conglomerates and larger brands typically have more resources to invest in digital. All but one of the top ten performers were part of a larger conglomerate. However, many of the feeble brands were also part of a conglomerate, with toothpaste brand Fluocaril (Procter & Gamble) coming in last. Mustela, which is not part of a global brand or large group, ranked eighth, indicating that independent brands can also perform well.

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