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How the crisis has affected the vision of future for French people

8 minutes


The desirability of the future is not a matter of new technologies but of human commitment.

Based on its consumer knowledge platform, the Access Panel 2020, and the 7,000 people interviewed in France, before the crisis and after the summer, the BNP Paribas Personal Finance Echangeur invites you to discover how French people seize their future, when the crisis impacts their habits without altering their projections.

Scenarios to project us

Before the crisis, Echangeur, in collaboration with the Observatoire Cetelem, had initiated a prospective reflection and identified 4 scenarios for the future. Faced with a multiple and disruptive future, it is necessary to open up the field of vision and question the sustainability of these scenarios, which, in the end, come out strengthened.

4 scenarios

It should be noted that the polarization axes are exacerbated by the crisis.


From unique brand to ecosystem

Brands and retailers are enriching their consumer presence with increasingly personalized value propositions. These help reinforce the conversation between a brand and its customer. Mobilized to participate in the war effort, listening to impacted employees, in search of customer proximity, trade leaders have every reason to strengthen their territory during the crisis.

The spread of ecosystems announced by Echangeur over the past ten years will mark a shift in the existence of trade players. Brands and retailers, increasingly federated to serve our uses, will be associated with powerful ecosystems open to all. Whether at the local level or to fight Covid-19 more globally, platforms are organizing and accelerating their networking during the crisis.


From accompanied Consumer to committed Consumer

The consumer appreciates the support of brands and retailers that are able to meet his needs and make his life easier. The crisis is accelerating digitalisation in favour of a more adapted customer experience.

The consumer mobilizes on the object of his consumption and on the scope of his acts, torn between his caprices and his values. The responsibility of all will become an issue in the name of the collective, or even of survival. Citizen mobilization is accelerating with the momentum of solidarity driven by the crisis.


4 probable scenarios for the future of French society

When asked about the probability of the 4 scenarios for the future, French people adhere to the different models of society on an almost identical probability rate. Between October 2019 and September 2020, this probability did not change significantly.

The average scores vary according to the scenarios 6 to 6.3/10: 6 for the scenario Stars System, scenario of a society of individual progress and 6.3 for the scenario of a society centered on the local, Made Locally. While overall there is no significant change in the average scores, there is, however, depolarization of the scores for all scenarios, with an increase in the average scores (5-6). This shows that, for the French, the field of possibilities is open.

Earth in Progress, Made Locally, popular scenarios for the future

Beyond the probability of scenarios for the future, it is necessary to consider both the perception of French people of their current situation and the desirability of the different scenarios.

French people now consider themselves to belong more to a society centred on the local and easily project themselves there

The local dimension appears as the privileged dimension to describe the situation today. In addition, this model tracks, in terms of desirability, the scenario of a committed and participatory society, Earth in Progress.

Conversely, if the scenarios of a society of individual progress or that of a technological society at the service of the collective (Life Control) remain the domain of the probable, they are less the domain of the perceived and certainly not the domain of the desirable (with a very low percentage of French plebiscitants for the future).


The triumph of local, the most current response to today’s society

The local model is taking more place in society today, and is in 1st position ahead of the committed and participatory model, which, in turn, is down by 6 points, compared to October 2019 (25% of French people recognize themselves today in the latter model).

The Made Locally scenario is particularly felt by those over 60 as being in touch with their current situation (40% versus 31% for the French average). This trend has been reinforced since the crisis, in line with their greater propensity to buy from local food producers (52% of them, compared to 41% of French, a 5-point increase since January 2020).

Note that this refocusing of seniors on localism occurs to the detriment of the committed and participatory model: 24% put it forward, a decrease of – 13 points vs October 2019.


Desirability of scenarios: the crisis did not upset the aspirations of French people

The desire for the future is shared between a committed and participatory society (39%) and a society centred on the local (37%).

French people remain wary of a hyper-technological model (whether through a technological society at the service of the collective, or through a society centred on individual progress). New technologies account for 55% of them as a factor of fear. This sense of distrust is all the more prevalent among those who favour a society turned towards the local (65% vs 55%).

The committed and participatory model is the scenario most desired by young people and seniors (41% of them), while 30-59 year olds prefer the local model (42% of 45-59 year olds, the highest rate and 37% of 30-44 year olds).

Young people are distinguished by a lower propensity to favour a society centred on the local (28% of them vs 37% for the average French).

In a relative way because it is not their preferred scenario, they are conversely the most seduced by a technological company at the service of the collective (19% of them vs 13% of the average French favor the model). This result is to be connected with their greatest ease with the new technologies: 33% say they are very comfortable vs 18% of the average French.

When citizen committment is at stake

Beyond the models of society desired by the French, in order to have explanatory elements, we also questioned them on their consumption behaviour vis-à-vis the environment and ethical issues.

While French people remain sensitive to the protection of the environment, the integration of these criteria in their consumption is losing speed, undoubtedly preceded by the criterion of price. Concerns related to the health and economic crisis take precedence over any other consideration.

For example, 39% of French people believe that respect for the environment is their first criterion of choice when buying a product (scores from 7 to 10, on a scale of 1 to 10). This rate is down by – 5 points compared to January 2020.

Note that young people remain the most involved in responsible consumption:

  • 56% of 18-29 year olds are ready to boycott brands that lack ethics (working conditions, impact on health, discrimination, etc.), vs 51% for the average French – scores from 7 to 10
  • 55% of them say they consume less to preserve the planet, compared to 43% of French.

This sensitivity leads them to demand more towards themselves: 56% of them consider not to make all the efforts for a consumption respectful of the environment (vs 41% of French), probably encountering necessary budgetary arbitrations.

Feeling about environment & responsibility

The citizens’ sense of responsibility to consume differently (in order to push major brands to manufacture and offer more eco-responsible products and services) has dominated and progressed since the crisis: 54% of French people share this opinion, an increase of +7 points compared to October 2019.

Note that this posture is more driven by seniors: 63% of those over 60.

Conversely, the younger the French people are, the more they consider that brands must play a decisive role in encouraging citizens to consume differently (for example, 58% of those under 30 expect a commitment from major brands, compared to 46% for the average French).

Young people also have higher demands on governments.

For 69% of the French, the ecological impulse comes primarily from citizens and not from governments. This result has not changed since the beginning of the crisis.On the other hand, even if they remain a minority, 41% of people under the age of 30 believe that this impetus comes primarily from the authorities, who, by law, encourage people to change their behaviour profoundly (compared to 31% of French people).

At a time when ecology and better living together are the great levers of our future, citizen mobilization is overwhelmingly praised by the French. It testifies to the need of all to act collectively and individually in the name of a project of virtuous society.

The posture of young people should be carefully studied: whether they appear to be the most actively involved in responsible consumption and whether they highlight the commitment of citizens to put pressure on governments and force them to reorient their environmental policies, they believe that not everything should be in the hands of citizens: governments as well as brands have major roles to play which they should not clear.

Caroline is in charge of the Access Panel studies of Echangeur.
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