Pure Romance – Consumers who buy organic remain loyal in a tough economy
Organic products have a hold on their customers, a report from market research firm Mintel examining consumer behavior and the organic industry reveals. Nearly 40 percent of organic consumers stated that they haven’t changed their buying habits in light of the recession, while a mere three percent said that they have stopped buying organic altogether due to the poor economy.
“Heavy users of natural and organic food and drink are most likely to indicate they’ve traded down to less expensive organic options,” David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel, said in a public statement. “However, less-frequent consumers of organic products have shown that they haven’t shifted their behavior. This is good news for the organic food and drink market, as this group may begin to buy more once recession-related fears begin to fade.”
Have organics remained resilient in the face of the difficult economy? Yes, says Veronica Bosgraaf, creator of the raw, vegan, organicPure Bar , available nationwide at health-oriented retailers like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
“I think resilient is a good word, as organics are not thriving like they have in past years,” Bosgraaf says. “The economy has definitely taken a toll on everything.”
However, consumers who bought organic before the recession were unlikely to stop doing so when economic times grew challenging.
“What’s unique about people that choose organic is that when you are thinking about your budget, your house and how you eat, it is a strong intrinsic motivation to keep yourself and your family healthy,” she explains. “Organic products would be one of the last things that would go, that people would cut out of their budget.”
“People who buy organic are buying it for a reason,” Bosgraaf adds.
While the organic category has experienced growth every year, the last year was slower, although it continues to grow as a segment, she adds.
A new product, Pure Bars doubled in growth last year due to additional distribution, Bosgraaf explains. “We did not see a slip in our numbers, year over year,” she says. “More often than not we tended to grow and attract more customers.”
Last year’s decline in supermarket sales (-0.3 percent, according to Mintel) signals a blip on the radar; sales are expected to recover over 2010 through 2012, although experts don’t envision pre-recession numbers just yet.
Bosgraaf says that this year will bring a greater marketing effort to bring awareness of the value of buying organic to the public.
“In 2010 Whole Foods will be pushing organics and their benefits and why people should continue to be committed to it,” she explains. “A lot of these companies and larger retailers are getting behind that this year.”
Sales of luxury items like organic chocolate and wines may have suffered more than organic staples like milk or eggs, Bosgraaf notes.
“The savvy organic consumer is going to look for their favorite brands more cost-effectively,” she explains. “They are still buying exactly what they want and being smarter about it. The most loyal customer tends to be of a higher socioeconomic status, is more educated, and wants to feed her family healthy foods. This is why conventional retailers, like Walmart, are carrying more organics.”
Why do organic items tend to cost more? Because they cost more to create, Bosgraaf explains. “As a company it is so much more expensive to create an organic product, but I was not willing for it to not be organic,” she maintains. “People had advised me to not make Pure organic, but my kids eat these every day, and I couldn’t do that.”
Due to such commitment, Bosgraaf contends that 2010 will see a growth in the organic industry, despite economic hardships. “As people get more and more educated about pesticides and herbicides and what they do to our bodies and to the earth, organics will continue to grow,” she concludes.
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