Natural Foods Merchandiser

Keeping It Natural

For some shoppers, a store?s mix of natural/organic and conventional products indicates its integrity or its commitment to the organic lifestyle. Others just want to get the week?s groceries and go home, and if they can buy their organic meat at the same place they buy their conventional paper towels, so much the better. Of those who buy their natural and organic products at naturals supermarkets, nearly 53 percent want conventional products to make up 25 percent to 75 percent of the store?s stock.

On the other extreme, more than 61 percent of people who do most of their shopping at smaller natural products stores want nothin? but natural. Frances Smith, for example, recently moved to Raton, N.M., from Missouri. One of the things she misses most about her old health food store is the fact that it didn?t carry any ?imposter? health food products. She is galled, she says, by store owners that stock products such as ?sugar-free? cookies that actually contain fructose.

Some of these shoppers also want their stores to carry just food, and leave the exercise equipment and herbal remedies to someone else. ?I just want to get in, do my shopping and go,? says Jean Foutch of Vancouver, Wash., and not be bombarded with extra ?gimmicks.?

It is possible to come up with a product mix that would satisfy the greatest number of shoppers in a given store format (see Optimal Mix column in chart above). But before implementing a ratio based on numbers, consider the people you serve. Local market dynamics are powerful and should heavily influence your purchasing decisions.

Preferences for Mix of Natural/Organic Products vs. Conventional

100% Natural/Healthy/Organic

75% Natural/Organic, 25% Conventional

50% Natural/Organic, 50% Conventional

25% Natural/Organic, 75% Conventional

Optimal Mix of Organic?

Natural Products Supermarket






Vitamin/Herb/Supplement Store






Natural Products Store






Source: NFM/IA

Customers like one-stop shopping, especially in natural supermarkets. But our research shows they Also appreciate a store?s commitment to organics and natural products, demonstrated by a high percentage of organics in their product assortment.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 8/p. 13

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