Monday, September 13, 2010

Carrefour Planet: My Thoughts (2)

I wanted to write a new blog post about Carrefour Planet. Indeed, the new hypermarket concept conceived by Carrefour has made the headlines of many French business newspapers, and of course all the professional magazines have dedicated special editions to it.

All the business journalists claim how wonderful and successful this new concept is. They are praying the genius of Lars Olofsson, the new Carrefour CEO, which was not scared of saying what needed to be said: Hypermarket doesn't work anymore. It takes a lot of courage to say it all loud when you get the leadership of the second largest retailer in the world, and on top of it, the creator of hypermarket.

Nevertheless, I believe the whole hype around it is too much. First, I like the comment on Henri Kaufman's blog, which actually wrote an article on it.

Voici donc le lancement tant attendu. Evidemment, nous autres, on attend cela avec circonspection. l'ex monsieur de chez Nestlé devrait savoir que les courses sont considérées comme une véritable corvée. Réanchanter le quotidien est une gageure. Carrefour va t-il réussir son tour de force ? rien n'est moins sûr. A mon avis il y a fausse done. Je ne vais pas refaire mon couplet sur la confusion conceptuelle que les gens de marketing font entre le désir et la pulsion consumériste....Moi, je parierais plutôt sur un échec.

This French comment is right: there might be a gap between what the professionals are dreaming of and what actually need the customers. As an evidence, French professional magazine "Points de vente" released a study about French top retail concept. And the results are quite interesting. Hard discounter Lidl seats before Carrefour or Auchan. That means customers are focused on prices, fast shopping, which is actually not the direction Carrefour has taken with enchanting commerce.

Also, in the very same magazine, the journalist is blasting Carrefour with compliments, as Carrefour has done such a great job, they have invented the future.

Isn't it too soon to draw conclusions? I mean, there are no results of improvement that yet can be analyzed! The concept has not yet a month of existence!

Now, don't missunderstand me. I believe Carrefour made a wonderful job. I also believe they made the best out of the bigger format of store they have. I have been part of Auchan Velizy's transformation, one of the largest store in Europe in terms of sales. Strong investments have been made to turn the store into a flagship concept, with a lot of innovation I find now in Carrefour Planet. And I believe the right decisions have been made.
Nevertheless, social and customer behaviors changes are deep, and it is not said this Carrefour Planet will be the solution.

I can't wait to visit the store, but I believe we should wait at least a whole year to get results and actually see if Carrefour's choice has been efficient or not.

And you, what do you think about it?