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Mintel: Shoppers Looking for Value

State-of-the-industry reports have been coming fast and furious lately, what with the fate of natural and organic products on so many people’s minds these days. Most of these conflict one another, or they come from firms we’ve never heard of (hello, junk folder!) — so we’re happy when we get our hands on numbers from a name we know and use often, like Mintel.

According to the Chicago-based research firm, 36% of consumers say they regularly or almost always buy green products. That’s the same percentage as reported last year, and kind of a bummer when you consider that this number tripled between 2007 and 2008. But considering how tough these times are — record layoffs, an anemic stock market, middle-class families shopping food pantries — it’s a wonder this percentage didn’t go down.

I think it’s safe to say the honeymoon period for health and wellness products is over. For years, retailers have been able to stock their shelves with organic this, and all natural that, and consumers have bought them up out of sheer novelty.

Now it’s crunch time, and that means retailers are going to have to work a little harder for those health and wellness dollars. Retailers like Whole Foods and Sunflower Farmers Market have launched marketing programs that show customers how to fit products into a sensible budget. Other retailers are playing up the quality and convenience of natural and organic private label. Another good idea might be to explain the price premium to shoppers, to just come right out and say these items are produced humanely and with fewer inputs, and that this just costs more.

It’s hard to tell what works for which market, of course. But one thing’s for sure: The worst thing to do right now would be nothing.