Do Consumers Want Organic Products?

Leah KinthaertAlthough it seems everywhere you turn around these days organic and all natural products seem to be very popular, with retail chains going so far as to grow produce on their own rooftop greenhouses and almost daily news reports about food and its relation to health and the environment, the bottom line is that consumers are not necessarily reaching for organic products – shown very vividly in a recent poll done by SmartBrief where only 3.88% of respondents said they were willing to pay more for organic grocery products. A new study by Mintel research shows that new product launches are reflecting this “consumer fatigue” for organic – in 2010 natural claims were featured on 14% of new products, while in 2012 that number dipped to 10%. And according to a March 2013 Harris Poll, the majority of consumers (55%) believe that organic products are healthier, however they are wary of the phenomenon of “greenwashing” – which is where jargon is used to confuse consumers and rack up prices. 59% see labeling products as organic as an excuse to charge more.

Other research has viewed recent trends a bit differently. The Organic Trade Association’s recent study says that 81% of households purchase organics “at least sometimes”. When they asked parents specifically, 42% said their trust in organic products has increased, versus 32% who said this a year ago. Organic products have definitely increased in a huge way since the mid 2000s. Research from World Watch Institute shows that the number of products marketed with environmental claims each year in the US grew from around 100 in 2004 to more than 1,500 in 2009.

Consumers are definitely aware of the affect that food has on both their health and the environment than they once were, but they are concerned about cost and don’t want the wool pulled over their eyes when it comes to advertising. A survey done by Cone Communications shows that 71% of consumers “wish companies would do a better job helping them understand environmental terms” and 48% “are overwhelmed by environmental messages”. In 2012 the FTC updated its “Green Guides” for the first time since 1998; they are aggressively taking action on deceptive or otherwise incorrect environmental marketing claims. More than ever before, customers are seeking precise information about products – and this information needs to be consistent on product packaging, in stores and online – wherever the product is represented or sold.

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