Growth in Organic Market Represents Ongoing and Deep Cultural Shift

Photo: Compass Natural

Photo: Compass Natural

For the foreseeable future, organic products will remain for most consumers “the gold standard of a safer, higher-quality product,” says leading market research firm The Hartman Group. “Organic communicates freedom from chemicals (on the farm and during production) as well as a product that is seen as ‘better for the world.’ As such organic products will continue to play an important role in consumers' search for better food, said Hartman CEO Laurie Demeritt. Of U.S. consumers who use organic products, the majority (61%) is made up of Mid-level (Inner + Outer) organic consumers, with smaller segments at the two extremes: 24% are Core consumers, and 15% are Periphery consumers. The Outer Mid-level is the largest consumer segment (37%).

  • As described, Core organic buyers are the most intensely involved. As the trendsetters and early adopters, they are the most knowledgeable regarding issues surrounding organic products. By understanding the Core, we are able to examine potential upcoming important issues, which Mid-level consumers may come to espouse over time.
  • The Mid-levels represent the majority of organic consumers and thus the biggest opportunity for retailers, manufacturers and restaurant operators. Inner Mid-level consumers aspire to Core attitudes and behaviors but pragmatically apply them with less consistency and reach.
  • Outer Mid-level consumers engage with organic products as well, often motivated by fear of unknown consequences of conventional food as well as by status — “everyone is doing it.”
  • Periphery consumers prioritize other concerns. They still, however, know some general principles and occasionally incorporate organic products into their diet.

Hartman recommends that manufacturers, retailers and restaurant operators should:

  • Prioritize speaking to consumer values around organics; do not risk falling out of consumers’ consideration set.
  • Focus on communicating the benefits of organic and natural from a health and wellness perspective first. However, consumers do appreciate hearing about positive effects on the wider world: Communications that convey “better for you AND better for the world” are the most impactful.
  • Leverage the organic seal as a means of elevating quality perceptions, particularly in categories where pesticides are front of mind.

Source: The Hartman Group Organic and Natural Report 2018