Organic: A look at who is purchasing organics, why, where...and more!

September 14, 2015
Consumer Trends

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Increased understanding and availability, Millennial generation, change face of organic shopper

In 2013, IRI and a specialty natural products researcher divided up shoppers who purchase natural and organic products into seven categories. The two they said accounted for about 50% of purchases were “True Believers” (40-year-old health nuts with college degrees making $65,000) and “Enlightened Environmentalists” (63-year-old consumers who care about the environment, have graduate degrees and make $57,000).

But increased understanding of what organic means and increased availability of organic products, along with younger consumers' desires for healthy food options, have changed the face of the organic shopper “to reflect more accurately the American population.” “There no longer is a typical organic consumer,” says the Organic Trade Association. “The face of organic-buying families now mirrors the demographics of the U.S. population in terms of ethnic background” and income.

Not only are more families buying organic today,” the association continues, “they are buying more organic foods in general than before.” This can be partly attributed to the increase in availability of organic products at club stores and big box stores like Wal-Mart. In 2014, Wal-Mart partnered with Wild Oats to stock its shelves with organic products that, according to Danit Marquardt, Wal-Mart's director of corporate communications, are at least 25% less expensive than other brands. When Consumer Reports examined prices of organic items at Wal-Mart versus other stores, it found Wal-Mart was “cheaper in every example, and in two-thirds of the matchups, the differential exceeded 50 percent.”

Organic Shopper Quick Facts

-24% of Millennials indicate that organics comprise at least three quarters of their total food/beverage purchase.

-Percent of black families regularly purchasing organic doubled from 7% in 2009 to 14% in 2015.

-16% of Hispanic households chose organic products in 2015.

>-More than 50% of families surveyed said they are buying more organic than a year ago, compared to only 30% in 2009 who said they were buying more.

-More than half of organic shoppers buy items at big box and warehouse stores.

-47% of families “very familiar” with USDA organic seal, up from 27% in 2009.

-7 out of 10 parents say they are “extremely well-informed” about organic.

-33% of consumers say organics are very important and the same percentage is also very willing to pay a premium for these products

Consumer drivers behind organic purchases

The perception that organic products are healthier is the biggest motivation consumers have for purchasing organic. This tops environmental and ethical concerns. Mintel found that 51% of women and 46% of men felt this way. Being free from “unnecessary ingredients/chemicals” and “to avoid pesticides” were tied at number two with 43% of women and 34% of men stating these as motivations for purchasing organic products.

Taste, which largely compels consumer food/drink purchase behavior overall, factors relatively little in the decision to purchase organics. Less than 25% of consumers believe organic food and drinks taste better than nonorganic versions. While taste may not be among the leading motivators behind purchasing organics, it does top ethical treatment of animals and the environment as a driver.

Confusion on regulation

Organic products are strictly regulated, but when surveyed by Mintel for their Organic Food and Beverage Shoppers report, only 28% of consumers agree that this is true. And when we focus on the largest base of organic consumers (those aged 25-34), only 19% were aware that organic products are highly regulated.

The report also found that more than a third of all consumers regard organic as a term with no real value or definition, showing that although understanding has increased in recent years, further education is needed to boost consumer confidence. (And trends show when consumer confidence/understanding regarding organics increases, so do sales of organics.)

 For MUCH more information, including a list of sources and details  about the first organic drive-thru, download the full report here!



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