Natural Foods Merchandiser

Go Organic for Earth Day

For natural products retailers, there is a holiday season in December and then another one in April—for Earth Day. If you are looking for a way to celebrate, check out the Go Organic! for Earth Day campaign. Earth Day falls on April 22 this year.

Go Organic! is off and running for its second year in a row, with MusicMatters, the Organic Trade Association and the Earth Day Network joining forces. Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the OTA said, "We're very excited about the response to this year's campaign. There are potentially 4,000 stores getting involved. The goals for the campaign this year are to increase sales of organic products by 15 percent and increase awareness of organic products by 8 percent and to distribute an Earth Day curriculum to 20,000 classrooms."

Last year, about 10 million American adults became aware of organic products because of the campaign, and 60 percent of Americans who saw the campaign purchased organic products because of it, according to the groups' final report. Furthermore, organic sales grew five times faster in April 2005 than during the previous three months of the year. Go Organic! coupon redemption was between 10 percent and 34 percent.

In 2006, Go Organic! hopes to include more small retailers. Last year, the campaign targeted shoppers, teachers, students and families who visited mainstream grocery stores. Steve Young-Burns, retail manager of the Go Organic! Campaign, said "I am intimately familiar with small stores because I worked in distribution for a long time, and I know that they feel that they are at a disadvantage for programs like this. We've gone to great lengths to make sure that it's easy for a small retailer—or a small manufacturer, for that matter—to sign up."

Retailers who participate will receive coupon books and posters. Even at the last minute, you can download point-of-sale items like shelf talkers and in-store signs or public relations campaigns and educational materials. You can also get your store posted on the store finder section of the Go Organic! Web site, so that when potential customers can type in their ZIP code, yours is among the stores that will pop up.

Barry Kaplan, partner at Everything Natural of Clarks Summit, Pa., participated last year and will participate again this year. "The campaign did a nice job of getting us press releases, which is really nice for us folks who don't have a marketing department," Kaplan said. "The campaign gives us access to resources that give us more presence. We used the material as a part of a larger campaign for Earth Day so we did our own thing and incorporated their material."

"We don't want the organic campaign to be a flash in the pan, like low-carb," said David Neuman, vice president of sales and marketing for Nature's Path, a Go Organic! platinum sponsor. "You think about what the Super Bowl has done for beer. They sell more beer on Super Bowl Sunday than they do for two-thirds of the rest of the year. Just like Valentine's Day has done for candy. We want Earth Day to be the same thing for organic [products]. Then, if they have a good experience, they'll tell their friends and organic becomes more than just a trend."

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