Consumers shop for specialty health and organic products in a variety of retail channels and engage with specific product groups at different levels. What drives this decision-making? What makes them stay loyal to one store and avoid another? What causes them to purchase organics in some categories and conventional products in others—and what tips the balance to more naturals? Finally, at a time when consumers are overloaded with messages about health, which information sources do they really trust?
To answer these questions, The Natural Foods Merchandiser and The Intelligence Agency of Traverse City, Mich., surveyed natural products consumers in May and June. Participants responded to an e-mail from Delicious Living magazine, offering a chance to win grocery store credit for responding to a Web survey. From an initial pool of 22,000 readers of deliciouslivingmag.com, we received 1,288 valid responses for a response rate of nearly 6 percent. to develop the Web survey, we conducted 16 detailed, open-ended phone interviews of consumers drawn randomly from a database of DL subscribers.
This dedicated, core shopper population is extremely important to retailers for two reasons. They spend a great deal on natural products—$2,200 per year on food and supplements, which is as much as 12 times the national average of those who shop in organic grocery stores. And they scatter their purchases across many channels. Their patronage is not automatically secure for any retailer. If your store can become the outlet of choice for these consumers, they will drive both dollar sales and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
—S.B.S. and L.E.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 8/p. 12