A Look Inside…The Organic Food Consumer

Organic foods have been trending upwards for the better part of 15 years. In 2002, The USDA released its national standards for organic products, officially bringing the movement into the mainstream. One year later, organic foods were available in 73% of conventional grocery stores in the United States. Now, consumers can readily find organic foods everywhere from mainstream supermarkets to gas stations to big box discount retailers…even Walmart has a house organic brand.

While organic foods were originally associated with those that are extremely health conscious (and with higher household income), today’s buyer has become much more complex.

A study by the Hartman Group divided organics consumers into three main demographics2:

  • Periphery consumers: are leaning towards organics, but don’t make any significant behavioral changes, meaning they’re still not purchasing organic products. This group comprises 14% of organic consumers.
  • Mid-level organic consumers: make up the bulk of organic consumers at 65%. These are individuals who are not only changing their attitudes but are also changing their habits and buying organic products.
  • Core consumers: are a small group (21%) of people talk about organics and purchase organic products often.

While the demographics are key in terms of understanding purchasing behavior and frequency, classifying consumers in terms of psychographics help brands get in the mind of their target market and determine how to advertise to their organic consumers.

Parents and Children

Parents want to feed their families better food. In fact, The Organic Trade Association notes that a full 81% percent of families with kids say they purchase organic products at least sometimes.2  Parents viewing organic foods as healthier cite avoiding toxins, like pesticides and GMOs as reasons for choosing organics. Studies show that children raised on organic foods are more likely to be organics consumers when they’re old enough to make their own purchasing decisions.

Brand & Label Consumers

Many new and some longer-term organic consumers are NOT brand loyal in the organics category. They simply shop labels. That is, they buy organic milk, organic eggs or organic strawberries, but not a specific brand of organic milk, eggs or strawberries. Many longer-term organic shoppers want to know more about your brand. They want to know why you’re different and better than other organic brands – do you support small, local farms? Are you more ethical? This is the group that wants to know about their food beyond the USDA Organic seal.

Health Minded Consumers

We know that health-minded individuals are more likely to purchase organics. This group looks a step further as to HOW their organic choice is healthy, so include information on your label about heart-healthy ingredients, antioxidants, desirable fats…whatever your product includes that is considered healthy.

Non-GMO Consumers

GMOs have been a trending issue for a few years now, so many consumers are looking to avoid foods that could be GMOs. With all the murkiness of health food labeling and marketing buzzwords (healthy, all-natural, etc.) don’t assume the average consumers knows that organic foods are GMO free so it’s important to list this on packaging.

Why do consumers buy Organic?

Most organic consumers believe that organic food is better for their health than conventionally grown produce, although the meaning of “healthy” is a bit murky.3 While studies show that organic fruits, grains, and vegetables have lower amounts of pesticides, and higher levels of antioxidants than their non-organic counterparts, science doesn’t necessarily agree that these attributes make organic foods more nutritious. Nevertheless, with trends moving towards clean label, farm to table, and non-GMO, sales of organic ingredients aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

 

1 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/a-decade-in-food-trends-76395204/

2 https://www.thebalancesmb.com/who-buys-organic-food-different-types-of-consumers-25

3 http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/12/01/americans-views-about-and-consumption-of-organic-foods/

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