|Natural Products…The Newest and Latest Trends|
Adapted from a presentation by The Natural Marketing Institute, March 2004.
By Samantha McDonald
The natural products industry is evolving from a niche market to what's on everyone's radar - eating better, exercising more, and living better. And even those who don't know an organic tomato from a bag of Doritos want to learn how to benefit from this growing industry.
Nothing was more clear at the Natural Products Expo 2004 in Anaheim , California where 2,500 exhibitors and 36,000 attendees from 86 countries compared notes on their experiences with the growing presence of natural and organic personal care products, supplements, and food.
The Natural Marketing Institute identified 10 trends from data collected over the past 5 years that have been prevalent in the natural products industry.
1. American Population Exhibits "Wellness Polarization"
There are two polar schools of thought when it comes to wellness: those who are adopting a more all-inclusive view of wellness with little attention to brand or price and those who have just discovered wellness regimens and are picking up food/beverage wellness products. Both are examples of how usage of natural/wellness products is growing in popularity but use different approaches.
2. A Shift from Consumer Value to Consumer Values
Value is making a transition from referring to price/quality to multidimensional consumer values - 44% surveyed choose products that are environmentally friendly - 39% feel its important for their store to have foods from farms with commitment to sustainable agriculture. There is also increased emphasis on sharing values with the companies that sell their products among natural product users (38% from the general population and 69% from natural personal care users). Being socially responsible as a business is moving to the forefront because of events like the scandals with Enron, Martha Stewart, and Parmalat.
3. "Wellness" Transfers to Multiple, Non-Traditional Industries
Health and wellness is now transferring to items such as energy efficient appliances and electronics, green building products, and renewable power not just to supplements and food.
4. Functionality & Purity Drive Many Consumer Goods
Soy, high-protein, low carb, and high-fibre foods continue to rise in popularity as we learn more about the functions of natural compounds such as soy isoflavones. Meanwhile low-calorie foods saw a drop in usage between 2002 and 2003.
Purity attitude drivers lead to purity behaviours - 49% of the general population state "it is important for stores to have foods grown without pesticides" which leads to 63% using natural foods. This principle of food purity can also be applied to many categories - 52% want their dairy, meat, and poultry products free of antibiotics. Similarly, 51% are more interested in organic beef products and 42% in natural beef products.
5. Convenience and Availability Migrate Across Channels
The top destinations for healthy and natural products are: warehouse/club stores, catalog/mail order, convenience stores, health care provider, and the Internet. There has also been growth in natural food supermarkets and health and natural food stores. Most use these outlets to help them eat well at home, but 64% also try to maintain the same at-home standards when they eat away from home, an emerging opportunity in the natural products industry.
6. Organic This, Organic That --- Beyond Foods/Beverages
The top four reasons to start using natural foods - 55% overall health and wellness, 32% taste, 28% better for me and my family, and 27% sited nutritional content. This image of wellness carries over into other product categories such as natural/organic pet foods and organic clothing, linens, and footwear.
7. Demographic Fragmentation Creates Wellness Opportunities
In general, it is possible to see opportunities across many platforms, such as lifestyle, ethnicity, and demographic platforms.
8. External/Cultural Events Affect Health-Related Priorities
It is clear that external events such as the economy and personal health affect how important wellness is - 69% agreed in March 2003 this was the case for them. This means consumers are paying attention to company values when making purchasing decisions.
9. Nutritional Maturation: From General to Specific Benefits
People want to see exactly what a product can do for them - 37% say it's important to carry foods that are designed specifically for women and 38% prefer to buy supplements that have a specific health claim. As we become more aware of what is available, we also want to know, "what specific results can I expect from this product?"
10. The Weight Loss/Diet Epidemic: It's All About Lifestyle
Even though 46% of us wanted to manage our weight for appearance and 41% for health reasons, this trend may be levelling off as more of us are engaging in regular exercise programs. In fact, 52% say that regular and consistent exercise was their key to successfully managing their weight. Other successful methods: smaller portions at mealtime, making a slight lifestyle change, controlling sugar intake, eating less carbohydrates, and smaller more frequent meals.
There are obviously many opportunities in the natural products industry. So, where does bison fit in? Bison fits into today's wellness movement quite well as a naturally raised source of protein without the use of hormones, growth promoters, or animal by-products and produced in a manner that respects the animal and the environment. Bison meat is also low fat, high in iron and other nutrients, basically a nutritional powerhouse (that also tastes great on the BBQ!). So, following the lead of a society that's more concerned with a diet of values and wellness, Slow Down, Savour Life, and Live it Well with Canadian Bison.