Put your waders and gatekeeper’s hat on

Whenever a topic is paid a lot of interest there’s never a shortage of folks looking to poke holes in the merit it offers. Take organics as an example. I was recently sent an email brief, “The Organic Food Controversy – Challenging Nutrition, Flavor and Sustainability” and as its title implies the piece attempts (in only a handful of paragraphs no less) to address whether the perceived benefits of organic are in fact true, mostly by discussing what others have reported.

Unfortunately, in an effort to sway opinion, this piece misdirects arguments to get the reader to believe they have a handle on the truth behind organics. I strongly encourage you to read it for yourself and come to your own conclusions, after all it is very likely your customers will see this too and have questions about its validity.

Interestingly, at the same time another report on the state of organics crossed my desk, this one was from The Hartman Group, a company I have known and worked with for nearly 20 years. After reading it, I had a chance to discuss a few of the more interesting findings their research uncovered with Hartman’s president Laurie Demeritt. One of the first things Laurie mentioned is that while there has been so much media attention around local and its link to organic for years, consumers now view local as a bridge between organic and natural. Consumers’ definition of local also appears to be broader than what most research would have you think. As she explained, local takes on other undertones that include community, economy and environmental stewardship.

Laurie also noted that consumers have long been attracted to organic foods and beverages for its intrinsic healthful benefits, but today’s educated consumers are less likely to assume a product is healthy simply because it carries the organic label. Following that thought, Laurie said while it doesn’t make sense to consumers to pay a premium for organic “junk” foods because they are not healthy anyway; there are definite areas where consumers do see a value in organics. For instance, she explained consumers would much rather spend their dollars on organic produce, meats, dairy and other inherently nutritious foods whose healthful properties are enhanced by organic farming methods.

We all know by now that information is a key driver behind growing wellness sales, not only today but in the future as well. Conflicting information confuses consumers and stymies sales. That said, given all of the wellness reports being published today, one of the quickest ways retailers can establish loyalty is by acting as information gatekeepers.


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