Organic Shoppers Continue to Evolve: Hartman Group

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Almost three-quarters of the U.S. population buy organic products at least occasionally, according to new research from The Hartman Group here. Twenty-three percent of U.S. consumers buy organic products on a regular (at least weekly) basis.

Hartman Group's research study, called "Organic2006: Consumer Attitudes & Behavior, Five Years Later & Into the Future," divides consumers into three groups: core, mid-level, and periphery.

Shoppers are purchasing organic foods and beverages in a variety of channels, the study finds. Mid-level consumers said they would especially like to see a greater variety of organic foods and beverages at club stores, such as Costco, and mass discount stores such as Super Target.

Another key finding that should be of interest to supermarkets is that the majority of consumers prefer segregation (sectional or full) when it comes to placement of organics. Core shoppers prefer full segregation; mid-level likes sectional segregation; and periphery favors full integration.

Organics have low perceived availability in shoppers' retail environment. Sixty-four percent of mid-level consumers think that organics aren't available where they shop. This is often due to the fact that they aren't noticeable due to poor merchandising tactics such as "natural food ghettos," according to The Hartman Group.

Fresh vegetables and fruit are by far the most common organic products purchased, which is in line with their greater availability, finds The Hartman Group. Meanwhile, organic versions of eggs, breads, and milk have been bought by one-quarter to one-third of primary shoppers.

A diverse group of shoppers is interested in organics, according to the study. Compared to the general population, two ethnic and racial groups examined by The Hartman Group were somewhat more likely to purchase organics: Asian Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans.

The Hartman Group's study integrates new primary quantitative and qualitative research findings building upon consumer research in the organic arena from more than 15 years. It is based on an online survey of 2,109 U.S. consumers conducted in December 2005. Users and non-users of organics were surveyed to get a complete picture of the state of organics use in the U.S.
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