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Global Perspective: DRTV Rises in France

1 Dec, 2012 By: Marie Laure Barrau, Thane Direct Response

France has emerged as one of Europe’s most receptive markets for DRTV. A country of 65 million people, France also boasts at least one television in each household. The country’s DRTV market stands at approximately 250 million Euros (€) in annual revenue. When adding retail sales of As Seen On TV products, the number increases to 300 million€. But the nation also has plenty of room to grow.

The core of DRTV in France is the “live show,” where live presenters showcase DRTV product on the major networks — TF1 and M6. Those channels understood the potential of DRTV and created their own DRTV subsidiaries, Teleshopping (for TF1) and Home Shopping Services (for M6). TF1 is first in terms of audience with a 24-percent market share, followed by M6 with 11 percent, according to Mediamétrie (January 2012).

The format consists of a 45-60 minute live (or live to tape) program presenting eight to 15 products. Each show features the main host and experts that present products in each category. This format, which is atypical for DRTV in Europe and much of the rest of the world, is responsible for nearly half of French DRTV revenues. The more traditional long-form infomercial is second, and live shopping channels are a distant third.

France has demonstrated an appetite for: beauty products, including slimming and anti-aging products; household products; personal fitness products; kitchen products; and do-it-yourself products. The average purchase price point is around 60€. It is getting increasingly difficult to market DRTV products above 149€, where higher-priced DRTV products found market success in the past. It’s important to note that 80 percent of DRTV payments are made by credit card.

In addition, regulations involved in the cosmetics and diet (pills or ingestible products) markets make it difficult to market these product categories, particularly from a distributor outside of France. However, if the product and show are both high quality, impressive sales can be generated.

U.S. DRTV companies seeking to enter France should begin with standard infomercials. As there are only two players accounting for 90 percent of the market, it is relatively easy for international distributors to enter the space. If the infomercials perform well, then the live shows will accept the product.

All products entering France need to come with appropriate certificates, test reports and substantiation of allegations. Having a French representative certainly helps address the language barrier, cultural barrier and time zone differences. Moreover, an in-market representative will help in preparing the most effective package, infomercial messaging and media buying, which can be complicated as the two major networks are subsidiaries of national channels that have financial interests in several other channels.

The only television channel dedicated to live home shopping is “M6 Boutique, la chaîne,” which focuses on jewelry and fashion products. However, this landscape may change in the future as both TF1 and M6 applied in early 2012 for a new frequency on free digital TV to launch new live shopping channels. While they have been initially turned down, their efforts continue.

The French government carries a heavy hand in regulating DRTV air time, limiting it to three hours per day, per channel. With the shortest duration of DRTV programming at 15 minutes, short-form DRTV is not possible in France. In addition, there are several days and time periods forbidden to DRTV.

Seventy percent of DRTV consumers are women, and most DRTV products are purchased among 50-55 year-olds. Consumers generally earn moderate income and reside in provincial communities.

The online business represents 20 percent of direct response revenues. However, online is regarded primarily as a mechanism to drive television sales at this point.

In retail, although Teleshopping and M6 each have had their own stores for nearly 10 years, this area has not served as a strong source of revenue for them, and costs for those shops are quite high. At the same time, both have tried to develop retail distribution operations selling their products to retailers, but these efforts have fallen short due to competitive factors as well as the imposition of strict buying conditions. However, with the right push, this is another area of opportunity for DRTV growth in France. ■

About the Author: Marie Laure Barrau

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