Organic food buyers are extremely loyal to the category, while their non-organic counterparts display little interest either now or for the future, according to new research from ACNielsen US.
Using the firm's Homescan consumer panel to analyse consumer attitudes and behaviour, the Consumer Pre-View study found that, of the one-third of consumers who have purchased organic food or beverages in the past six months, 85% plan to continue purchasing organics. However, among those not buying organics, only 3% plan to buy such products in the next six months.
Phil Lempert, spokesperson for Consumer Pre-View, explains: "The high price of organics is the primary obstacle to broader acceptance in the marketplace. I expect prices to decline as more mainstream manufacturers broaden the array of organics available to consumers, but manufacturers and retailers also have a significant opportunity to increase sales by clearing up consumer confusion and providing more education about the benefits of organics."
How consumers see organics
When asked how they feel about organic products, consumer views varied:
· 63% said that "they are more expensive"
· 41% said that "they have no pesticides"
· 26% said that "they are healthier"
· 22% said that "they don't contain genetically modified organisms"
· 14% said that "they are better quality"
· 13% said that "they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction"
The study also found that consumers who indicated an intention to eat more healthily have actually made purchases in line with that intention. It compared buying behaviour among consumers who, in a March-April 2002 survey, said they planned to eat more healthily in the next six months, with those who said they did not plan to do so. Subsequent purchasing was analysed within four categories that include products that make healthy claims (such as low fat or reduced calories), versus those without healthy claims.
The categories examined were salad dressings, ice creams, mayonnaise and frozen dinners. Across all four categories, consumers who intended to eat more healthily showed a higher incidence of purchasing those products that had healthy claims. Those consumers were also found to be less 'deal sensitive' when it came to purchasing products with healthy claims.
Nick Sorvillo, senior vice president for ACNielsen Homescan, commented, "What consumers say they will do and what they actually do are often in conflict. However, when it comes to eating healthier, consumers are backing up their intentions with purchase decisions. The fact that they are less deal sensitive when it comes to purchasing products with healthy claims is further evidence of their resolve. Marketers must continue moving beyond segmenting consumers by demographics alone and tailor their efforts to different attitudinal segments."