Organic Monitor says that there is a relatively small group of consumers who account for most regular organic and sustainable product purchases, creating a ‘glass ceiling’ for companies looking to break through into the mainstream. In the long term, the specialist organic consultancy and market researcher says that expanding this small group of eco-conscious consumers will be vital to expanding sales of organic and sustainable products – but in the interim, companies should try adopting broader marketing strategies.
“Marketing appears to be the solution,” the organisation says. “…Brands that can successfully position themselves to attract broad consumer groups are breaking through the glass ceiling.”
It is an approach that has worked for Alpro, the Belgian firm that found initial appeal with its organic soy dairy alternatives. Organic Monitor points out that it shifted its marketing toward general well-being, and found a new market with health-conscious and ecologically minded consumers, as well as allergy sufferers.
Alpro dominates the European functional foods and dairy alternatives market, according to the organisation.
The research agency also cites the success of Hipp, Weleda and Green & Black’s, all of which have found mainstream appeal by not specifically focussing on ‘green’ consumers.
And Bio+ in the Netherlands has grown to become the market-leading organic brand there since its launch in 2005.
“Its popularity is because it is positioned as a lifestyle brand, with organic not the main proposition,” Organic Monitor said.
Since 2007, demand for organic products has been affected by the financial crisis, but there are major differences among European national markets.
The UK has been the most adversely affected, and sales of organic foods there have declined. Italy and Switzerland have shown slower (but positive) growth, and sales in the Netherlands and France have continued to grow by double digit percentages.