This morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Robyn O'Brien, mother of four, founder of allergy kids.com and author of The Unhealthy Truth (Crown,2009), which sheds light on the underbelly of our food system. When her daughter began experiencing food allergies, Robyn decided to discover the cause. What she found was that many of the items in her pantry, which she thought were healthy and nutritious, were actually laden with chemicals, synthetic ingredients and hormones and could be making her family sick. As the media continues to spotlight what we eat, from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution to the President's Cancer Panel, increasingly, like Robyn, mothers across the country are taking a second look at exactly what's on the dinner table and not liking what they see.
Entering a natural foods store for the first time can be intimidating for anyone new to the industry, but when you're pressed for time and on a budget, as many mothers are, sifting through products looking for items your family won't immediately reject as "weird" can be particularly daunting. Robyn suggests store owners meet this type of "crossover consumer" exactly where they are."It's important to focus on progress, not perfection," she said.
Retailers can help mothers take baby steps towards eating healthier by encouraging them to each month exclude one dirty ingredient from their family's diet. In March focus on high-fructose corn syrup, April rBGH, May artificial colors, etc. Provide information on why these ingredients are harmful and list product alternatives that aren't too granola-y for the average conventional consumer. Annies has delicious organic bunny fruit snacks that can easily replace other sweet treats. Honest Kids organic juice pouches are similar to Kraft's Capri Suns. Amy's frozen pizzas make for a quick dinner or after-school snack and aren't made with GMOs. Take a look at your product inventory through the lens of a busy mother. What products would kids like; what could save you time; what provides essential nutrients?
It's estimated that U.S. women spend more than $2.7 trillion annually on consumer goods and services. Females outnumber males in the U.S. by over six percent and a significant number of this percentage has at least one child—roughly 1.5 million. Catering to this group is well worth any retailer's time.
For more information on addressing mommy consumers you can hear Robyn O'Brien speak at the Natural products Expo West education session, Marketing to Moms, Friday, March 11, from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. in room 207B of the Anaheim Convention Center.
Natural Foods Merchandiser will also devote an entire issue to crossover consumers in May, so stay tuned.