"Post-Demographic does not sound new to Parisians": Exploring the new landscape and language of French consumerism
The latest posts in our tw:in Twins series – where two star spotters from TrendWatching’s Insight Network explore how one trend in particular is developing in their city or region – cover POST-DEMOGRAPHIC CONSUMERISM. As one of 16 mega-trends – big, slow moving ‘currents’ that remain broadly stable year-on-year, and can be applied across regions, industries and demographics – PDC highlights how consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments (age, gender, income, family status etc.). People of all ages, and in many markets, are shaking off conventions, and constructing their own lifestyles and identities more freely than ever.
Here Paulina Mitelsztedt, a Parisian resident, explores how her city has evolved into a POST-DEMOGRAPHIC landscape.
The idea of going ‘post-demographic’ does not sound new to French people. Even less so to Parisians who, historically, used to enjoy a little revolution every now and then.
Yet recently, the change resembles a caffeine-free, all-natural urban blend – suitable for all ages and times of the day.
The ‘bobo’ lifestyle which includes both the perks of being a city dweller (a ‘BOurgeois’) and born to be free ‘BOhemian’ was initially identified in 2000… by a New Yorker. Since then, even if “Les Bobos” themselves often get the bad rep, it is hard to deny that the ‘bobo’ highly post-demographic lifestyle is becoming a very Parisian way to be, and that brands are picking on that trend.
‘Born to be free’ has been translated closely enough by a Parisian “perfumerie” chain Marionnaud as ‘Born to be me’. In their latest campaign Marionnaud repositioned itself to serve the unique beauty of every woman. Instead of achieving a cliché ‘cover girl’, look Marionnaud promises help in establishing an individual ‘Beauty Code’ followed by a personalised choice of cosmetics.
Even mass promotions no longer guillotine the prices in the same way for everyone, like it were 1789. Mikado, a confectionary brand that make chocolate sticks, first launched in France and recently prepared a promotion where the type of discount depended on (self-declared) personality type. For example, a person admitting they are lazy will get 15 euros off their next Uber drive.
However, “Where is my chauffeur?” is not a phrase a Parisian would now often say. It is bicycles that display best the individualism, love of nature and being “eco-responsable”, as well as active lifestyle. Coco Chanel didn’t see it coming, but bikes – especially the city rental bikes Vélib’s (“vélo”- bike, “lib(re)” – free) – are now the new black of the “classy green”. In Givenchy’s latest “Gentlemen Only” perfume ad, Simon Baker glides through the streets of Parison a bike. (Personally, I can only confirm noticing men and women trying to carelessly squash a jacket and a bag into Vélib’s front basket, presumably wondering whether Hermès bags fly easily on a curb ;).
As Vélib now have two children sizes (known as P’tit Vélib’ and Lil’ Vélib’), Parisian fashion is also becoming somehow more light-hearted. An institution in kids clothing, Petit Bateau, recently issued a campaign entitled “For Serious Kids”. Previously, the brand calculated adults age in hundreds of months in their campaign “Forever Never Old” (“Jamais Vieux pour Toujours”). Also emerging are smaller designer brands like Maïanka, who offer clothes for “kids” (yes, its now a French word) of all ages, blending art, design and playful patterns.
To further mix classiness and classical, playfulness and playing, Paris’s biggest modern art and community centre, Centre Pompidou, has recently organised Yog’art, – yoga for parents and kids class. It is run in partnership with Nature et Découvertes, a nature and outdoors chain store, and advertised as a quite literal warm up before setting off to admire some Chagalls and Philharmonie de Paris, who are organising a concert with music from Pixar films.
On the same note, Gaîté Lyrique concert hall and digital arts space brings the thrill of tech discovery to seniors organising “Game Older” workshops showing how to play games on PS3, XBox, PC and iPad.
Similarly, almost child-like amazement has both kids and kidults rush every year to a chosen Parisian park to watch the night skies and camp with Michel et Augustin, a Parisian cookie brand (yes “cookies” is also now a French word, s’il vous plaît).
So, as Marie-Antoinette would put it, if you want to lead a Parisian post-demographic lifestyle, you should have a cake. Or better, a macaron. It’s chic, tiny or big, full of flavour and in different varieties… and naturally gluten free!
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