Despite the economic recession, consumers are likely to hold steady and maintain natural and organic grocery purchasing in 2009. That’s according to a recent MamboTrack study by Mambo Sprouts Marketing, the leader in natural and organic product marketing and promotions, which surveyed the buying habits of 1,066 natural and organic (N&O) consumers and their outlook for N&O purchasing for the coming year.

Even with further economic deterioration and the weakening job market, consumers remain committed to natural and organic product purchasing in 2009, with 8 in 10 reporting no plans to change (41 percent) or only changing somewhat (40 percent). Only one in five (18 percent) planned notable adjustments to their N&O shopping habits.

Still, the study revealed that cost saving activities were on the rise. One in two are being more selective when buying organics (50 percent) and buying store brand/private label organic products (49 percent).

Consistent with 2008, consumers identified taste (93 percent), health/nutrition benefits (89 percent), and ingredients (87 percent) as important factors in brand purchasing decisions. However, price factors ranked higher for 2009 across three categories: sale price (82 percent rating important vs. 76 percent in 2008), coupon for brand (70 percent vs. 65 percent) and advertisement or promotion for brand (44 percent vs. 24 percent).

Similarly, in deciding where to shop, consumers ranked price (71% vs. 60% rating very important) and in-store specials (52% vs. 44%) higher in importance in 2009. While consumers will continue to shop for natural and organic groceries at multiple outlets, they planned to shop more at farmer’s markets (31%) and less at gourmet markets (24%).

Asked what actions natural product companies and retailers can take to assist with organic purchasing, nine in ten respondents called for more organics coupons (91%) and lower prices (88%). About one in two looked for a wider selection of organic products (54%) and organic money saving tips (51%).

“As an organic food producer we need to stay cognizant of consumer priorities in order to maintain relevancy and help consumers make healthy buying choices,” says Tripp Hughes, director of Category Management for Organic Valley, America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands.
Survey results courtesy of Mambo Sprouts’ MamboTrack online survey taken between November 24 and November 25, 2008 — 1,066 natural and organic product consumers responding.