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Post Written By Sandie Glass, Owner of Innovation ROI

A Strategic Full Service Ideation & Research Company

The mega trends Organic

and Natural are tremendous forces impacting the innovation pipelines of many Fortune 500 companies.   I recently read about consumer perceptions of organic versus natural in the latest newsletter from NMI – the Natural Marketing Institute – and I thought it was information worth sharing.  The big take-away is that, in the consumers’ mind, organic and natural don’t just overlap or intersect, consumers believe they are one in the same.  As a consumer myself, it’s easy to see how this could happen, but it’s great learning for us to keep in mind as innovators to ensure we are creating differentiating products with distinct benefits that satisfy the wants and needs of each of these consumer segments.  Here’s the excerpt:

Despite being eight years into the National Organic Program (NOP), consumers’ understanding of “organic” still lags well behind natural. Two-thirds or more of consumers understand natural to mean 100% natural ingredients, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives, no additives, or no artificial colors. On the other hand, when asked to define organic, only one attribute – 100% organic ingredients – is selected by more than two-thirds of the population.  Many fewer identify organic foods or beverages as having no chemical pesticides, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives, no additives, no artificial colors, or no chemicals.

Further, there is no difference in perception of natural versus organic benefits, such as better for family/children, better for the environment, better taste, or better nutrition (both types of products are equally perceived as providing these benefits).

Collectively, the organic industry needs to continue to educate consumers on what organic means, what sets it apart, and why such products are important. If consumers do not understand a difference or perceive benefits of organic, the (lack of) benefits will erode the market. While organic is a complex and potentially confusing topic for consumers, fundamentally it does deliver the benefits consumers seek – health and sustainability. Only with better communication and connection of benefits with needs will the organic industry continue to prosper.

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