Ripolin and Dulux Strive to Deliver Value to Hard-Pressed French Consumers in Decorative Paint

In 2012, Akzo Nobel and PPG Industries, two of the biggest players in the French home paint market, both launched paint testers. In spite of a weak economic environment, consumer interest in home decoration remains high in France, particularly among middle-aged consumers with significant levels of disposable income, as suggested by the proliferation of such television shows as “D&Co”. Moreover, the economic downturn has encouraged many households to undertake home improvement activities themselves in order to save money. Can these innovations help to reverse the flagging fortunes of French decorative paint sales by tempting consumers into undertaking more redecoration projects?

Dulux Valentine versus Ripolin

Real value sales of paint are falling in France as persistent economic weakness has left many consumers wary of discretionary spending, and this is forcing manufacturers to become more creative in an effort to get consumers to loosen their purse strings. These two offerings take quite different approaches, with PPG’s offering more innovative and convenient than that of its rival.

Long established in such markets as the US and the UK, paint testers are a new innovation in the French market. Akzo Nobel’s Dulux Valentine tester consists of 50ml containers of paint that come with a small brush. Each is priced at €2.50.

Ripolin Tester

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Source: Euromonitor International

Ripolin’s Attitude, PPG’s offering, consists of transparent sachets that enable consumers to see the colours. Priced at €1.99, each of these packs is large enough to cover 25 square centimetres of wall surface – unlike the Dulux tester, there is no actual painting involved. It is marketed under the Ripolin brand, a household name in France that was even used by Picasso in some of his work.

Convenience is key

Although the Dulux Valentine tester dries in 30 minutes and can be cleaned with water, Ripolin is clearly a much more convenient product (as well as costing less), and as such is likely to find greater favour with the French consumer. Indeed, the marketing for Dulux implicitly concedes this by advising consumers to “apply the colour directly to the surface or a piece of white card”.

Dulux Valentine Tester

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Source: Courtesy of Dulux Valentine France (ICI Paints Déco France SA)

Weak economy undermines consumer spending

Although not one of the headline causalities of the global economic downturn and EuroZone crisis, the rate of unemployment in France reached 10.3% in 2012, with GDP still well below its 2007 peak. As a result, consumer confidence continues to plumb historic lows.

According to our interim data (due to be published in April 2013), real value sales of decorative paint in France fell to just under €1.4 billion in 2012, still below the 2008 peak.