Natural Foods Merchandiser


Retail Certification
Though retailers are not required to become certified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program, Quality Assurance Int'l. has launched a program to help retailers maintain the organic audit trail, to verify the organic certification status of products and to make sure organic products are protected from commingling with and contamination by conventional products.

QAI Marketing Director Ellen P. Holton says her organization's Organic Certification Program for Retailers is designed to help assure consumers that organic integrity has been "maintained from field to shopping cart."

Loyalty Gone to the Dogs
Shoppers are far more brand loyal when it involves their pets than their kids, and though 86 percent of Americans make a shopping list before they head to the market, only 28 percent actually follow it.

"Marketers need to recognize the tremendous power and influence they have when consumers are walking the aisles of their favorite grocery store," says Lee Smith, president of the online market research firm InsightExpress. "With shoppers spending an average of 47 minutes in the grocery store, there are enormous opportunities to induce trial."

InsightExpress polled 500 grocery shoppers and learned that whereas 53 percent of consumers are likely to stick with a particular brand of pet food, only 27 percent are loyal to a brand of baby food or baby products. About 78 percent of shoppers report price is the most compelling reason to switch brands, followed by quality (66 percent), and coupons and promotional offers (40 percent). A third of shoppers say they are influenced by the simple availability of other products or brands.

Survey participants also say they are influenced by weekly store fliers, in-aisle coupon dispensers and sampling.

GNC Gets New Look
General Nutrition Centers spent $20 million redesigning its 4,200 U.S. stores to better organize product categories and add information kiosks and brochure stands to provide detailed information about common health issues and problems. The project standardized store appearance to make the outlets lighter and more user friendly, executives said.

Imagine Foods in Hain Portfolio
The Hain Celestial Group in December acquired Imagine Foods Inc., which makes top brands of aseptic and refrigerated rice and soymilks, organic soups and broths, and frozen desserts. The acquisition bolsters Hain's offerings, particularly in the aseptic alternative beverage category, where Chief Executive Irwin Simon promised growth during the company's year-end conference call with analysts in August.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 1/p. 18

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