When I asked marketing and advertising sage Alex Bogusky his predictions for where he saw natural, independent retailers thriving five years from now, he had this to say: "I hope that more is done on GMOs."
Duh … coming right up, on or before 2018. But here's the thing, this was actually a couple of months ago, back before Whole Foods' major GMO transparency announcement.
In fact, Bogusky's voice has rung out as part of the non-GMO movement for years. He did give it up to Whole Foods for its great commitment, even to that point, but added that the small independents can play just as large a role in steering customers on a straightforward course through this chaotic landscape.
"There's another level in eliminating GMOs and making consumers aware of where it is and where it isn’t and helping guide consumers who want to avoid GMOs. Obviously there's no labeling, and it's very difficult to navigate on your own," explained Bogusky.
"So if you look at California, you look at other battles down the road, all of these create a more aware consumer. California didn't label, but you had a lot of people vote for labeling. And you had GMOs go from very very low awareness to a much higher awareness. If I was a smaller retailer in California, I would identify that opportunity to help consumers navigate that space."
Nationwide, indie retailers are already proving this point.
Beyond the latest supplement surprise or chia revelation, Bogusky sees room for advancement and originality within natural products stores themselves. "It's great to go in Alfalfa's and see where the cutting edge is," he says of one example, citing the Boulder retailer's bulk aisle, refillable laundry detergent bottles and refill oils and vinegars sections specifically.
"There's a lot of potential for innovation still in that space."
Here, he again foresees that next-level commitment coming from smaller, local retailers. "It's a differentiator. And if you do it the right way, I think the clientele notices that there's another level that we can take organic, or there's another level we can take thoughtfulness, and there's another level that we can take our sustainability, and you can build a lot of loyalty."