Natural Foods Merchandiser
Get to know the new natural personal care shopper

Get to know the new natural personal care shopper

The "light green" consumers are eager to pursue healthier habits and represent many of the new customers in natural products stores.  Here are some key shopping and purchasing characteristics of these natural PC newbies, along with ways in which you can meet their needs, from pricing, marketing, organizing by selection criteria and the benefits of brand loyalty.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you likely know your core customers well: They’re informed, inquisitive, proactive about health and wellness, and committed to specific values and lifestyle choices. When shopping for personal care, they scrutinize product labels, know the meaning of organic and paraben free, and understand that PC ingredients can impact their health.

But what about the throngs of first-time customers who stroll through your doors? Your stellar selection of organic produce may have lured them in initially, but they’ll likely poke around the PC section too—especially if you offer samples and feature eye-catching displays. While it’s important to keep the hardcores happy, understanding and catering to new, or crossover, consumers’ needs can help you boost PC sales.

To get a better grip on who these new customers are, which PC products they seek and what drives their purchasing decisions, NFM’s sister publication, Delicious Living magazine, surveyed more than 600 consumers for its “Personal Care Report.” The respondents were predominantly female; all were well educated, in their mid-40s, and either pursuing or actively engaged in healthy lifestyles.

Of those surveyed, 35 percent were deemed “dark green” consumers: They stay on top of health and wellness issues and share nutrition and sustainability knowledge with family and friends. Many of your long-time customers fit this bill. But the other 65 percent of respondents were classified as “light green,” meaning they’re not 100 percent invested in natural and organic lifestyles, and may be confused about certain health issues and product claims. However, they are eager to pursue healthier habits.

This light green sector represents many of the new customers exploring your store. Based on the DL report, here are some of their key shopping and purchasing characteristics, along with ways in which you can meet their needs.

Reaching natural personal care crossover consumers

Price matters. Light green shoppers are swayed by price more easily than their dark green counterparts, who scan shelves for favorite products and purchase them regardless of cost. Natural PC newbies browse more casually, so prominently placed and discounted items grab their attention. Promotions and dual-purchasing programs prompt crossover consumers to buy; value-size products also pique their interest.

Marketing sways opinions. Crossover consumers typically are less educated about PC claims, certifications and ingredients than dark green shoppers. While they want to purchase the safest, healthiest products possible, they’re more easily influenced by marketing tactics and less skeptical of claims like all-natural and organic. You can capitalize on the crossovers’ eagerness to learn by helping them navigate the PC section, which in turn empowers them. Schedule PC-savvy staff members who can chat with customers shelf-side, and offer charts that decipher common, organic and natural certifications.

Selection criteria varies. While the dark green set seeks PC products that meet several specific criteria (paraben free, certified organic, etc.), light green shoppers peruse with fewer and more general qualifiers in mind, such as no animal testing, biodegradable and hypoallergenic. Consider organizing products by these and other common claims or developing a color-coded key system to help shoppers easily scope out items that meet their qualifications.

Brand loyalty is key. Light green customers are more apt to buy new products by manufacturers they know and trust than to try unfamiliar brands. Make sure your staff is well versed in entire product lines and stays abreast of new launches. Encourage shoppers to try various items within the same brand.

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