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Green Consumers Buy More Produce, Pasta, Cereal: Study

Green consumers are the top spenders in many CPG categories with more developed organic, natural, or environmentally friendly options, such as produce, cereal, soup, eggs, pasta, nuts, and light bulbs, according to a new study by The Nielsen Company and the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).

And opportunities to gain share of wallet for these consumers, referred to as LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability), exist in other categories as well. According to the research, which was presented during Nielsen's Consumer 360 Conference in Phoenix, these categories include noncarbonated soft drinks such as isotonics and sports drinks, baking mixes, and indulgences such as frozen novelties, and syrups.

"Sustainability is here to stay, and clearly, our research shows that LOHAS consumers are important consumers for CPG manufacturers and retailers to attract to their brands and stores," said Todd Hale, s.v.p., consumer and shopper insights, Nielsen. "CPG companies looking to engage or expand their sustainability efforts need to know what the LOHAS consumer is buying -- and where -- in order to meet the needs of this influential consumer segment."

NMI estimates U.S. LOHAS products to be a $209 billion industry, and projects U.S. sales of LOHAS products to be more than $400 billion by 2010. "One in five U.S. consumers are LOHAS consumers -- passionate, environmental, socially responsible stewards," said Patti Marshman-Goldblatt, s.v.p., NMI. "These consumers are early adopters, loyal to companies whose values match their own and, [as] validated by our research, willing to put their money where their mouths are."

Nielsen and NMI's analysis shows that 81 percent of LOHAS households purchase products labeled as organic, spending nearly four times as much as "unconcerned" consumers (consumers not on the eco-radar). LOHAS consumers also show their commitment to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle through their purchases of products with health claims, such as gluten free, multigrain and probiotic.

"Organics are on fire, with billions in sales," said Marshman-Goldblatt. "LOHAS consumers appear to be a major driver of this growth."

LOHAS and non-green consumers also shop at different types of stores, according to the study. LOHAS and "conventional" consumers (a segment of the population driven to environmental sustainability by traditional means such as cost savings) spend more in warehouse clubs than other channels such as grocery stores, drug stores, or supercenters.

"Naturalites" (health-motivated consumers) and "unconcerned" consumers tend to shop in lower-cost channels such as supercenters and dollar stores, each segment spending 43 percent more in supercenters than expected.

"Knowing where green and non-green consumers are shopping provides retailers with an advantage in capturing these consumers' purchases," said Hale. "Not only do we see LOHAS consumers spend more in certain shopping channels compared to non-green consumers, but we also see LOHAS consumers spend more than non-green consumers in virtually every department of the store, with the exception of the meat department, perhaps as a reflection of vegetarian lifestyles."
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