retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We keep getting emails about the various studies about the efficacy of organic foods, vs. mainstream foods.

One MNB user wrote:

Kevin, the "organic enthusiast" is the minority. I field questions from the members in my store about why we don't carry more organic items all the time.  As I engage our members about what they would like to see, I ask them what they are looking for in an organic item. I almost always get the same response... It's supposed to be healthier.  Rarely do the environment or pesticides come up.

The vast majority of consumers are buying based on incorrect data and it is a tough sell to point one of my members to a great brand that is not certified organic when the decision has been made in their mind.  My company is careful to bring in only what we see as a successful item based on our format and is expanding our array of organic items, because our member is asking for them.  It's a shame that most consumers could save some money buying healthy non-organic items but are being conditioned to believe otherwise.  As a retail manager, I would love to see my members be able to spread their grocery money into more of my non-foods categories.

MNB user Philip Bradley wrote:

You omitted one key reason why many of us buy organic food, particularly the produce--because it simply tastes better!

And from MNB user Craig Espelien:

Here is how I always see the difference between the traditional Organic consumer and the mainstream consumer…

The Organic consumer typically pursues Organics as a Lifestyle – rather than a set of products (much like the green or sustainable consumer).

The mainstream consumer is the consumer who defines value in ways other than living an Organic lifestyle.

The mainstream consumer is more concerned with price and “total value” of the product (price and quality for the use or occasion).  This stems from primary research I have done in a variety of circumstances that support the Stanford study – Organic foods provide little to no incremental health or nutrition benefit to the person consuming them while natural products tend to have more nutritional benefits that can be identified – and the cost increase for going natural vs. going Organic is wildly less – which fits into the mainstream consumer’s value equation.

The reason, from my perspective, that the Organic consumers get fired up about studies like this is that their lifestyle is much closer to their emotional triggers than for the mainstream consumer – meaning anything that is perceived as attacking their lifestyle is “bad” or “offensive” or just plain wrong.

Most manufacturers would be well served by understanding the difference between the two consumer sets and working to achieve a balance – since there are probably 95-99 mainstream consumers for every one Organic consumer, figure out how to appeal to both with potentially different items – but that is simply sound business advice so I am sure everyone already knows that (just kidding – not sure too many folks have thought it through this far).

Regarding the California referendum on the mandating of labels for foods containing genetically modified ingredients, one MNB user wrote:

I just filled-out my ballot and couldn't help but think of your dogged support of California Prop 37 while doing so.

Seems to me it is tantamount to plastering targets onto the foreheads of a specific, otherwise harmless group of products for mischief-makers to shoot at and reminds me of why a lot of people thought it was unfair to force Jews to walk around wearing yellow stars.

I didn't vote, nonetheless, for the genetically-modified President.

Gee, that's offensive on just so many levels.

Let's forget about the fact that I'm not sure my position could fairly be described as "dogged," since I've also pointed out what I perceive as flaws in the proposed law.

You really want to compare a law that would mandate companies to be transparent about ingredients in the foods they market to a policy that resulted in the murder of millions of Jews? Really?

And I don't even know how to respond to the "genetically modified President" crack, except to say that I'm glad this remark is not typical of the discourse on MNB. (I'm only posting it because I've always believed in the line from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who once said that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

And that line requires a lot of disinfectant.

We had an email last week from an MNB user who said that he had a right to drink a jumbo soda because it would make him happy, and he has a Constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I should have picked up on this ... but I want to thank the numerous MNB users who wrote in to point out that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is not a line from the US Constitution.

It's from the Declaration of Independence.

Finally, responding to my review of the movie Knuckleball last Friday, MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:

Charlie Hough pitched for the Texas Rangers for many  years, and for most of those years, was the opening day starter, tells you what kind of pitching staff we had in those days doesn’t it?

Anyway, when he was here, he gave one of my favorite all time baseball quotes to a reporter,  “95% of my pitches are knuckleballs, the other 5% are prayers”.

Great line. Sounds like my approach to MNB...
KC's View: