Walking into a natural products store for the first time can feel like entering another world—new smells, different terms, strange foods and, to some people, peculiar personalities. While health concerns may drive conventional consumers to venture into this new land, it’s up to natural products retailers to meet these customers’ needs if they want them to return. Experts say one of the best ways to do this is to anticipate which products these shoppers are searching for.
“Consumer research shows that major health or life changes such as motherhood can be a gateway into healthy shopping and eating,” says Bill Crawford, veteran natural products industry analyst and director of retail publishing programs for Boulder, Colo.-based New Hope Natural Media. “These shoppers come in the store with product questions and needs that natural products retailers are uniquely positioned to answer and meet.”
To help you connect with crossover shoppers, four experts offer products that deliver on flavor (often a primary concern) and also address specific health needs that frequently bring these customers into naturals stores—gluten free, vegetarian/vegan, diabetic and kid friendly. Before suggesting any product, our experts advise retailers to inform customers that these are not recommendations, and that serious health questions should be addressed with their health care practitioners.
Use these guidelines to look for other items in your store that meet these shoppers’ specific nutrition needs, and offer the information in your newsletter and sales flyer or on shelf talkers. “With the right information and guidance, these actions can help turn a curious and well-intended shopper into a natural foods store regular,” Crawford says.