Less than 20% of consumers account for almost half of organic sales

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

Biggest organic spenders
Across the board, consumers are embracing natural and organic products more and more, with natural/organic retail sales reaching $81.3 billion in 2012, up 13.5% from the year before. 

But two small “power shopper” groups, together comprising 18% of consumers, account for almost half of all sales of natural/organic products, according to a recent study by Information Resources Inc. and SPINS. This leaves 82% of consumers who still haven’t reached their buying potential in this fast-growing CPG segment.

The two firms surveyed 5,000 consumers for the study, and supplemented the segmentation by integrating shopper behavior information primarily from IRI’s National Consumer Panel.

Through the study, IRI and SPINS found that two leading purchasing segments—dubbed true believers and enlightened environmentalists—make up for 46% of all natural/organic product sales.

True believers are just that—proven believers in the benefits of natural and organic products, according to the study. They are passionate about staying fit and healthy, are focused on trying new things, and want to serve as strong role models for their children. With a median income of $65,000, this segment has an average age of 40, attended college and post-graduate studies in some cases.

Enlightened environmentalists are above all passionate about the environment and making choices to support it. With a median income of $57,000 and an average age of 63, this segment makes a concerted effort to make healthier choices, going out of their way to shop at stores with natural/organic products.

The following five segments comprise the remaining 54% of sales.

  • Strapped seekers​ – This group likes trying new things and wants to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but knows they should make healthier choices than they do. With a median income of $45,000 and median age of 45, these shoppers represent all levels of education.
  • Healthy realists​ – This group prioritizes being healthy and fit. They are often the first among their friends to try something new, but can have difficulty deciding whether to buy healthy or traditional products. Their average age is 39; they have attended college and earn a median income of $65,000.
  • Indifferent traditionalists ​– Leading a simple life with few passions, they may try healthy products but do not consider themselves on the leading edge of change. With a median income of $46,000 that skews under $25,000, these shoppers are aged 65 on average and have a high school education.
  • Struggling switchers ​– These shoppers are focused on staying within their budgets, having suffered during the last recession. They also want to eat healthier and getting more exercise. With a median income of $56,000, they are aged 39 on average and attended all levels of school.
  • Resistant non-believers​ – With very little desire to explore other options for things to buy, this group stays loyal to the products they know. They have completed high school; have an average age of 52 and a median income of $48,000.

“Manufacturers and retailers have a significant opportunity to better understand and tap into the needs, wants and motivations (of the true believers and enlightened environmentalists)—not only to drive sales volume but also to continue to deliver the innovative products that shape our industry,”​ said Tony Olson, CEO of SPINS, in a statement. “At the same time, it is important to motivate shoppers in other segments to expand their knowledge of natural/organic products to stimulate buying behavior and ensure long-term growth.”

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