This case study shows how in changing the law, the Black Supermarket changed Carrefour, one of the biggest worldwide retailers.
In Europe, people have access to only 3% of existing cereals, vegetables, and fruits. The other 97% are illegal. Why? Because an absurd European law forbids all farmers’ varieties, the ancestral varieties of our grand-parents. Only hybrid, pesticide-resistant seeds - patented by the agro-chemical industry - are authorized. It’s the law in Europe since 1981. As a result, 90% of farmable varieties have already disappeared worldwide since the 20th century
Carrefour, a long-time defender of better food quality, which still suffered from its image of big CAC40 retailer, decided to use its leadership power to make a change.
To change the law, Carrefour defied the law, and launched The Black Supermarket.
Illegal Black Supermarkets were created in Carrefour’s stores nationally to sell a unique range of illegal varieties of cereals, vegetables, and fruits. We asked people to join the cause by buying our illegal range in our stores and by signing our petition on change.org. While our print, outdoor, films and in-store BlackSupermarket installations revealed the absurdity of the law, and turned our illegal producers into national heroes.
The Black Supermarket generated a national debate. Every major TV evening-news, radio show, newspaper covered the campaign. And important public figures - such as prominent chefs, journalists, even farmers’ syndicates - joined our fight, generating 377M media impressions.
The Public was baffled to discover this absurd law, bought the illegal goods en masse (our maximum of 153 tons), driving in-store traffic by 15%, and signed our petition (83.000 signatures).
Thanks to Carrefour’s lobbying power and to the public support generated by the campaign, the law finally changed for the benefit of 500 million Europeans. On April 19th 2018, the EU ratified new regulation on organic agriculture (Procedure 2014/0100(COD)) reauthorizing sale and cultivation of farmers’ seeds, after 40 years of prohibition.
A political tour de force, that triggered a fundamental transformation of the brand's image (+8pt brand love), made it the top1 favorite retail brand in France, and accelerated the transformation of its international business strategy. All of this while creating a whole new, always sold-out, range of high-quality produces, unprecedented in the industry.