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Survey: Consumers expect more from natural products brands

Getty Images Survey: Consumers expect more from natural products brands
Consumers are more likely to support brands founded by entrepreneurs and women, but that support might drop if a conventional company buys the natural one.

Companies in the natural products industry have long understood the importance of sharing their mission and story with consumers.

Now, a survey of 1,000 consumers, commissioned by Gerber Finance, shows 61% of consumers hold natural products companies to higher standards than conventional standards regarding quality, company mission and sustainability:

  • 38% or respondents expect a natural products company to be inclusive, compared with 30% who expect a conventional company to be inclusive.
  • 57% expect natural products companies to treat employees well, while 49% expect this of conventional companies.
  • 70% expect natural products companies to be transparent about sourcing and ingredients, while 46% expect this of a conventional company.
  • 44% expect natural products companies to support the community or a greater cause, while 33% expect this of a conventional company.

"The natural products industry has its own unique needs and obstacles, like product seasonality, big POs to fulfill, and—as the results of this survey revealed—big expectations to live up to," said Jennifer Palmer, CEO of Gerber Finance. "The natural products companies we work with are living up to these expectations and then some, while making a positive impact on people and the planet."

Nearly 50% of respondents are more likely to buy a natural brand if it was founded by entrepreneurs, while 48% are more likely to purchase a brand from a woman-owned or -led company, according to the survey, which was conducted by Momentive.

Additionally, the survey found that consumers' expectations of a natural products company rise even more if the company is owned or led by a woman:

  • 29% believe it is inclusive.
  • 36% believe it is family friendly.
  • 29% believe it is well run.
  • 21% believe it makes quality products.

However, if a woman-owned or -led company sells to a conglomerate, 25% of respondents said they were less likely to purchase the brand's products.

According to the survey, consumers have very different perceptions of natural and conventional brands:

  • 31% of respondents believe natural brands are more trustworthy than conventional brands, compared with 10% who said conventional brands are more trustworthy.
  • 62% expect natural companies to make high quality products, while 49% expect high quality from conventional companies.

The survey supports other findings that consumers have positive associations with natural products, as noted in the study, What drives brand love for natural products?, published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services in January. 

Consumers' high expectations apply to natural products companies as well as the foods and products they manufacture, Kahtryn Peters, executive vice president of SPINS, said in June during Natural Products Expo Virtual Week's keynote address. She noted that consumers look to natural products companies for leadership in the areas of diversity, inclusion, sustainability and climate change mitigation.

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