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Amandine SERRES
5 minutes

Mobility is currently undergoing a major change on the supply side… But what about usage? Using data from the Access Panel based on 14,000 individuals representing Belgians, Spanish, French and Portuguese, let’s put the consumer back at the centre and highlight their mobility practices!

The car remains a must for mobility in Europe…

Today, Europeans are generally very attached to their cars, as evidenced by the very high rate of equipment – close to 90%, in the 4 countries covered by the Access Panel. The rates of multiple detentions also illustrate the preponderance of the car, even if we observe variations from one country to another: between 28% and 50% of individuals own at least 2 cars in their home.

This commitment to the automobile will be all the stronger as we live in a sparsely populated area. Thus, in France, 97% of rural people own a car when only 66% of the inhabitants of the Paris agglomeration own one (the lowest rate of equipment of the 4 capitals and in sharp decline in 2 years).

… But alternatives to the car are slowly starting to develop in parallel

Between 2020 and 2022, “soft mobility” (e-bikes & scooters) increased in the four Access Panel countries, with Belgium clearly distinguishing itself with 29% of its population equipped with e-bikes. However, in other countries, these substitutes for cars are just beginning to emerge.

On the other hand, mobility services are also beginning to appeal, especially to urban people. Thus, the use of car sharing (with strangers, via applications such as Blablacar in France), Uber-type VTC services or the use of bike/car sharing set up by municipalities, are more common for residents of capital cities or cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, even though these services are still rarely used across a country. To follow with the development of the offers.

City dwellers are also making greater use of home delivery for their food shopping, thus avoiding travel (by car). This is the case in the 4 countries studied by the Access Panel where a quarter to a third of the people living in dense areas have had their shopping delivered at least once in the last 12 months. Let’s highlight a French particularity: the drive option, used by 27% of French people, is globally more developed than in other countries and on the whole territory with rural people who use it particularly.

Rent your car when you’re not using it?

While the current mobility of individuals is still largely based on the car, it represents a significant cost in the household budget, considering the purchase of the vehicle, the maintenance and the purchase of fuel (whose prices have risen in recent months). In the current context of increased budget pressures, to amortize your car budget, one of the solutions could be to rent your vehicle a few days a month to save money. A service which is not yet widespread but which could be of interest to about a third of the Europeans interviewed, and more particularly to urban people who make more occasional use of their car. All that remains is to offer them a service guaranteeing ease of use and reliability.

What about car purchase projects?

Europeans continue to consider buying a car within 2 years; credit or leasing is a good way to help them finance them. But what will happen to these projects, given the current inflationary crisis?

Of course, those who are most constrained could be forced to postpone their purchases, forced to arbitrate.

Let’s illustrate with the case of France: if the French who plan to buy a new car vs a used car are in similar proportions (16% / 15%), they obviously do not have the same profile. Not surprisingly, considering buying a new car is the prerogative of people with significantly higher incomes and significantly less financial pressure. They have the flexibility to make it easier for them to carry out their project. Conversely, it will surely be difficult to maintain their project for some of the “second-hand buyers”

The renewal of his vehicle will become more and more inevitable, to comply with increasingly demanding environmental standards. Today, despite a 2-year increase, the share of hybrid/100% electric car owners remains low, affecting only about 1 in 10 Europeans. The significant cost of this type of vehicle is obviously a major obstacle to fleet renewal.

A shopping journey evolving towards more digital

Illustrating the acceleration of the digitalization of Europeans since the health crisis and its successive closures, more and more consumers are planning to buy their car onlin, without the possibility of seeing it or testing it before. Spain and France are the two most advanced countries. Obviously, in all countries, buying a new car without seeing it remains much more possible than a used car (for reasons related to confidence); however, it is also progressing significantly for used cars (probably both in the context of the shortage of new cars that become a real luxury product and the development of guarantees to provide reinsurance).

It should also be noted that the increasing digitalization of consumption will undoubtedly promote the development of innovations embedded in the vehicle and pushed by manufacturers.

Amandine SERRES
Consumer Research Analyst
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