Recent events in Washington continue to erode consumer confidence. In addition, the impact of recent catastrophes like floods hurricanes fires etc. have all forced consumers to rethink their shopping habits and consider low-cost alternatives.
While price is certainly an important consideration for most, it should not be the only consideration when grocery shopping. Value should also be a huge consideration - especially for consumers who care about what they eat.
Natural products have a degree of authenticity that other products lack. We pay a little more for them because they deliver on promises that are important to us. When retailers merchandise a natural product next to some conventional products, consumers can more easily appreciate the increased value. For example, in college I remember buying the cheapest bread, peanut butter, and jelly - I was a typical poor college student. I would need to eat at least two sandwiches to feel full and that would only last a few hours. Since then I’ve learned that better quality ingredients can actually satisfy me for longer periods of time allowing me to spend less over time.
What strategies do you use to promote natural products sales in today's new economy?
This should be a major part of our on-going conversations with our loyal shoppers - for both retailer and manufacturers.
It’s easy to let fear and doubt scare us into focusing only on price, but what are our long-term objectives? If you have been working hard to remove GMO’s, pesticides, and herbicides from your diet, will you now abandon that goal to save a few pennies? The health concerns that caused you to change your diet in the first place have not changed.
Every retailer is fighting for the same shopper dollars. Some retailers will be able to effectively use price while others will focus on convenience, local, variety, specialty, etc. The changing economic conditions will continue to increase the competitiveness of each retailer.
Naturals should use the economic challenges as a soapbox to praise the additional value they offer. The goal is to get consumers to shop more at natural retailers and to spend more of their wallets once there. This can be accomplished with well thought-out strategies that address shopper’s needs. Some of those strategies might include staffing well-trained product experts, developing a competitive set (discussed in other articles) or focusing on local products, authentic products (organic and Non-GMO), specialty products not available in larger chains, etc.
Manufacturers and retailers should work closely together to be laser focused on consumer’s needs and to provide solutions that fully meet those needs. While that might sound overly simple, larger retailers have a much harder time focusing on the individual shopper. Their size and scale actually make them less nimble in this area. Most have a “one size fits all” mentality. This can be their Achilles heal. This should be the biggest point of differentiation for naturals in a hyper-competitive marketplace.
Daniel Lohman is the owner of Category Management Solutions (CMS) which provides innovative strategic solutions for natural and organic CPG companies interested in gaining a significant competitive advantage.