Natural Foods Merchandiser

NFM's consumer research methods explained

The Natural Foods Merchandiser set out to learn the current perceptions, attitudes, behaviors and priorities of U.S. natural, organic and health products consumers. AVERO Research, based in Traverse City, Mich., conducted an online survey with a census-balanced group of 1,200 consumers, screened to ensure at least occasional use of natural, organic and health products.

In January 2007, AVERO interviewed 12 natural products retail managers, working for a variety of stores (chain and independent, large sales volume to small sales volume). These retail decision-makers indi?cated the areas of consumer insight that would be of most value to them.

In early April 2007, AVERO launched a Web-based survey through a third-party Web site, and invited members of a census-balanced online panel to participate. Nearly 2,500 respondents took part in exchange for a small incentive. Nearly half of the respondents were eliminated because they do not consume natural, organic and health products or because the data from their responses was conflicting, flawed or incomplete. In the end, AVERO analyzed 1,150 complete responses for reporting. Assuming 75 million to 85 million U.S. consumers of natural products, based on data compiled from A.C. Nielsen, The Hartman Group, Natural Marketing Institute, Harris Interactive and The Natural Foods Merchandiser, the general confidence interval (with 95 percent confidence level) for a given result is +/- 2.89 percent.

Sherwood Badger Smith is president of AVERO Research.

Natural products shoppers are well-off: The mean income among respondents was $90,000.

The majority of respondents spend less that 20 percent of their household budget for grocery, personal care, cleaning and health products on organic or natural merchandise. But a small percentage of people buy almost exclusively natural and organic.

The challenge for retailers is to move consumers further along the continuum so their monthly spending on natural products increases.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 8/p. 28

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