Global and US organic food sales only continue to grow, with sales totaling a record-high of $49.4 billion in 2017, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2018 Organic Industry Survey. However, there is one specific category that’s not only leading organic sales continued growth, but it can be used to drive revenue in other organic categories.
Organic produce sales alone grew 7.3% in 2017 as a result of several converging factors, including supply, demand, shopper perception and accessibility. Due to its increasing popularity with shoppers, organic produce is considered a gateway to organic products in other departments. This is typically where they begin to experiment with, and trust in, organic products. In addition, the department is also located in a prime location, as it is believed that the healthiest products are found along the perimeter of the store.
But to increase sales for all organic categories, like consumer-packaged goods (CPG), grocers must find a way to raise awareness of other offerings throughout the store. With improved diversity, quality and taste, there are a wider variety of options that would appeal to organic shoppers. In order to see similar growth in all departments, grocery stores must leverage organic produce along the perimeter to drive shoppers into the center of the store to find other organic foods.
The Rise of Organic Consumption
As the demand for organic products have increased, grocers have risen to the occasion. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), these products are now available in nearly 3 out of 4 conventional grocery stores. More specifically, organic produce generates $4,233 per store per week, and fresh produce accounts for 90% of organic fruit and vegetable sales. Increasing access to these products is a profitable move for retailers, as organic shoppers spend 8.6% more per trip across the entire store than those who don’t purchase organic products.
While an array of people purchase organic products, the majority of shoppers share two defining characteristics: Millennials and parents. As noted by the Organic Trade Association, 81% of families with kids say they purchase organic products at least sometimes. Expectant parents also fall into this category, with about one in 10 pregnant women reporting that they eat organic food regularly. Millennials comprise the largest group of organic shoppers, as they are increasingly moving into the stage of life where they are raising families. Their motivation for purchasing organic products is to teach their children how to be healthy and make right decisions.
Despite the increasing demand for organic foods, grocery stores must attract shoppers to center-store products to see sales growth across the board. The key is to do so while they’re browsing the organic produce section.
5 Ways to Use Organic Produce To Boost Center-Store Organic Sales
1. Focus on cross-merchandising
According to Nielsen, shoppers do not make their purchasing decisions based on departments, they make choices based on their needs. Since organic produce section is the gateway to attracting shoppers to center-of-the-store items, retailers should consider incorporating — even temporarily — complementary center-store products next to produce.
Snacking is a growing category, and shoppers are constantly searching for healthier alternatives. Displaying barkTHINS snacking chocolate in the organic produce section, for example, can encourage shoppers to try this healthy snack and even lead to repeat purchases – driving them to organic products in the center of the store.
2. Integrate technology
Given that the primary demographic behind organic purchases is comprised of Millennials and Gen Xers – both of whom are very tech-savvy – technology is another important way to connect with shoppers. In-store technology, social media and online technologies alike can showcase the appeal of organic food in various ways and help steer shoppers from organic produce to center-store.
Kroger introduced a new digital shelf technology, called Kroger Edge, to nearly 200 stores in 2018. Currently, the digital price tags display pricing, nutritional information and promotions for various products. In the future, the goal is for the technology to communicate with shoppers’ smartphones and highlight items on their grocery list or items that match their dietary preferences and restrictions. Smart shelf technology gives retailers an opportunity to easily point out complementary center-store products for organic shoppers.
3. Illustrate convenience
Today’s shoppers value and prioritize convenience – in the grocery store and in their daily lives. However, organic produce is often associated with meal planning and/or preparation, which can be time-consuming. Grocers can position center-store organic foods as a more time-friendly option – allowing shoppers to benefit from organic quality while enjoying a longer shelf-life than fresh organic produce.
Grocers can demonstrate convenience in other ways, too. Many major retailers are getting on board with the trend of online grocery shopping, click-and-collect and even grocery delivery. And although most shoppers don’t buy fresh produce online, they’re more likely to purchase center-store groceries through these channels. This makes it easier to integrate organic products into the average household’s shopping habits, and expand the organic shopper base.
4. Educate consumers on organic brands
Many people aren’t aware of the vast options that are available when shopping for organic products. Grocers can increase awareness and encourage purchases by strategically placing displays and even product demonstrations in the organic produce section.
Digital signage, for example, can feature an organic snack brand and include nutritional information as well as its aisle and shelf location. With in-store demonstrations, shoppers are not only exposed to new products, but they also get to taste them to dispel any misconceptions that organic products lack flavor. By educating shoppers in a section that they frequent most often – the organic produce section – grocery retailers can spark their interest in center-store organic foods.
5. Embrace organic as a lifestyle
Another strategy is to display organic products as part of a healthy lifestyle. From floor displays to social media, grocers can share healthy recipes and wellness tips, while also showcasing just how accessible organic products — and the health benefits they bring — can be for shoppers to integrate into their own daily lives. Regardless of socioeconomic status or family size, show that organic products are for everyone.
Today’s media channels are highly conducive to this sort of messaging. Millennials, Gen Xers, and even younger generations are already being credited with using social media to (inadvertently) contribute to the growth of the organic food industry. Grocers can also strategically leverage this medium to communicate values and benefits associated with consuming organic foods – from increased health to peak vitality.
Given the popularity – and monumental growth – of organic produce, grocery retailers can leverage this category to drive shoppers to organic products across the store. Use the strategies listed above to capitalize on this sector’s growth and, in turn, boost center-store organic sales.