One would think that with society’s growing emphasis on health and wellness, organic would be a key claim for which consumers are searching.
But, sadly, it isn’t.
This unfortunate reality was confirmed by the incredibly detailed and exhaustive 2018 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report from the Food Marketing Institute and the Hartman Group.
Below are three sets of data points which should cause all of us in organic to take serious notice.
When purchasing food, product claims that shoppers are seeking:
No artificial ingredients: 33%
No preservatives: 33%
No trans fats: 28%
Not bioengineered: 22%
Certified organic: 14%
Types of Products Sought (Avoided):
Bioengineered: 42% (avoided)
Most Important Attributes in a Primary Grocery Store:
High-quality fruits and vegetables: 80%
Great product selection and variety: 77%
Low prices: 77%
Items on sale or money-saving specials: 63%
Convenient from home: 60%
Fast checkout: 50%
Locally-grown products: 36%
Good selection of all natural/organic products: 28%
In order to analyze and interpret this data, it is important to understand a few of the report’s other findings:
* Millennials with children, in particular, manage their busy lives with high use of smartphone apps (to look up coupons, sales, recipes or product reviews or to find items in-store), QR codes and communications tools such as newsletters, texts and social media. For example, 56% of Millennials with children use at least one grocery-related app.
* Shoppers evaluate a food retailer by how well it supports their overarching goal of eating well.
* Consumers are looking for transparency on two fronts: honesty from manufacturers about product attributes, quality and social and environmental impact; and information from the retailer around product selection.
* Digital tools are increasingly influencing in-store rituals, including:
– Digital list making
– Websites and apps for passive/active discovery and information
– Smartphone use in-aisle
1) The fact that ‘natural’ and ‘locally-grown’ are consistently being viewed as more important by shoppers than ‘organic’ can likely be attributed to one of two factors.
First, consumers do not value or trust the organic seal.
Second, shoppers do not fully understand that organic prohibits the use of toxic chemicals, risky GMOs and artificial ingredients. Yet, ironically, shoppers are seeking out non-organic products that are free from these things.
The effects of the organic industry — a $50 billion dollar industry — still not having a national branding/advertising campaign continues to haunt us, in terms of lost sales and a lack of understanding among consumers about what organic means.
2) Given shoppers’ lack of understanding about organic and their growing reliance on digital tools, organic brands can leverage this to build trust with their customer base.
Very few organic brands use email effectively, and almost always, it is the company pushing new products or special promotions. While these are critical functions of email marketing, organic companies can build trust, strengthen brand loyalty and deepen relationships by providing important content about health, wellness and organic food.
According to the 2018 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report, shoppers are heavily relying on their primary grocery store to support them in the quest to eat well and shop well, and email marketing could help organic brands become a trusted source for this information.
From an organic food perspective, the report’s findings should make us very concerned, and the industry needs to come together in an unprecedented way to pressure the USDA about stricter enforcement and tightening of the rules. The credibility of the organic seal is at stake, and as this report indicates, consumers may already be having doubt about it.
Have a great day!
Max Goldberg, Editorlivingmaxwell
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