Organic, surrounded by her virtues, is a leading lady

Organic is one of many drivers influencing consumer behavior now and moving forward. The advantage organic has over other influencers is that it has ties to several areas including sustainability, health, motivation and behavioral drivers. These alliances serve to strengthen its position as a leading lady who does best when flanked by her best friends. 

Clean eating, balance, and self-care can count themselves among organic’s best friends. What were once considered luxuries are no longer optional in consumers’ minds. Organic represents all three, and is “invisibly healthy,” something that does not have to be advertised but is apparent on its own.  

Consumer motivational ties to organic include the need for transparency, simplicity, authenticity, knowing a food’s origin, and value. If a consumer values something, they may be willing to pay more for it.  Ingredient Communications reports that up to 44 percent of respondents would be willing to pay 75 percent more for dishes containing ingredients they knew and trusted.

Organic also fills a need for control and security for consumers as transparency also is a control issue along with traceability and authenticity. The Center for Food Integrity found that only 28 percent strongly agree that they have access to all the information they want about where their food comes from, how it is produced, and its safety

Organic is also the leading lady in the sustainability crowd, flanked by her best friends seasonal, local, ethical, and conscious consumption.  Hartman reported that 69 percent of consumers would like companies’ sustainability practices to be more visible and 73 percent are familiar with the term “transparency.” 

Organic sales also are linked intrinsically to economic health. If organic is the leading lady, then the economy is the director. If the economy is healthy, meaning we are not experiencing a recession, then organic sales are healthy as well. In an economic downturn, consumers, to an extent, will abandon organic due to cost.  In times of economic health, organic can be a grounding force for consumers. By layering organic with other allies, it creates a three-dimensional product with a longer lifecycle and more approachable personality that can weather economic unrest better than organic can alone. Best friends that can align with organic include kids’ products, animal welfare, unprocessed and natural, seasonal, local, packaging that can be repurposed, ethical, and root-to-stalk or farm-to-glass products. 

Consumer fatigue is a concern, but simple repositioning can help to realign the conversation. In the past, generic organic label statements were enough, but a better position is to explain why a product has an organic claim. Educate the consumer. It is what they expect.

Instead of marketing how an organic practice helps your company, market how the organic practice helps the consumer. Instead of promoting how your company’s organic efforts help the environment or community, try empowering consumers. Give them the control over bettering their environment and community through using your products. 

The ah-ha moment here is that sustainability and its daughter organic are part of the same Pandora’s Box.  A Pandora’s Box is a virtually unstoppable trend having no adversaries and little or no competition. 

Companies and products are expected to have alliances with organic. What to do about it?  The only way to fail at this trend is not to engage. The best strategy is to place wide bets and engage several complementary trends within a product. 

Even if organic is the leading lady, she will need her best friends by her side. Remember to market how a sustainable feature benefits the consumer, not your company. Empower consumers – give them the control over improving their environment or community by using your products.

 And remember, the consumer is the hero. You are their guide helping them to achieve their goals. //

Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides Inc., a chef, registered dietitian and former criminalist and toxicologist, spoke at the Organic Trade Association’s 2018 Policy Conference in May on trends shaping the organic industry.