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What stops people buying organic products?


(aid) – There’s no question, organic products are more than simply a fashion. Nonetheless, “organic” is not yet a mass phenomenon, although the availability of organic products and the range on offer have improved immensely in recent years.

The fact is that even people tagged as eco-intensive shoppers spend, on average, less than half of their total food budget on organic products. This customer group thus still offers potential for the whole organic market – just from the marketing point of view.

So what are the barriers that stop even committed consumers buying more, or possibly exclusively, organic products? Agricultural marketing experts at the University of Kassel in Germany used a computer-assisted survey to identify the conventional products which eco-consumers tend to buy frequently and to analyse the specific reasons for each purchase decision. The main reasons for buying a conventional product rather than an organic one are the price, differences in taste and/or appearance, and non-availability of organic alternatives.

When it comes to products like frozen pizzas, nut-nougat creams, ready desserts and wine, the main criterion is simply taste. Dr. Fabian Buder from the faculty of agricultural and food marketing at the University of Kassel, recommends suppliers of organic products to make their products taste and look more like conventional products. But retailers also have an important role to play in breaking down preconceptions about the taste of organic products. As Buder explains, “Tasting events are very effective and readily accepted by customers”. Giving customers the opportunity to taste a product for themselves is the best way of winning them over.

In the case of meat, cold cuts, poultry and fish, the main barrier identified by the survey was lack of an adequate choice of organic-grade products. Customers complained about the lack of fresh, unpackaged products. The survey also found that there isn’t a wide enough choice of frozen pizzas, margarine, cheese, ready desserts and candy in organic quality. “Retailers would do well to fill these gaps in their range,” says Buder. Consumers are particularly sensitive to price differences when it comes to meat, cold cuts, fruit juices, cheese, vegetables and fruit. His recommendation would be for retailers to exploit potential scope in their pricing policy to promote their organic ranges as an economically productive course of action.

Source: Nina Weiler.

Extra information:
The research project into expanding individual consumption of organic products, identifying gaps in the product range and product-specific barriers to their purchase (Ausweitung der individuellen Bedarfsdeckung mit Öko-Lebensmitteln – Identifikation von Sortimentslücken und produktspezifischen Kaufbarrieren für Öko-Käufer) was funded as part of the German government’s programme for organic farming and sustainable agriculture (BÖLN). The final report can be downloaded from http://orgprints.org/18433//