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Marketing researcher explains organic boom

Danish supermarkets are among the very best in Europe when it comes to the sale of organic food. Healthy and sustainable products have become so accessible that even chocolate and coffee have become green, although consumers are not very loyal to organic brands. This is the result of new research from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences.

2012.10.30 | Tine Bagger Christiansen

Since 2005, the amount of organic food products has nearly doubled in supermarkets, and the increase makes Danes some of the most diligent and conscious consumers of organic food in Europe. New research from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences explains the organic boom:

- Our study shows that more households than ever buy organic food. However, the individual consumer does not buy more organic food than before, and people are not very loyal to one particular brand, says Postdoc Polymeros Chrysochou from MAPP, Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector at the Department of Business Administration.

The study is based on the development of nine organic product categories throughout the past ten years. The aim has been to discover why the sale of organic products has exploded in Denmark. One of the conclusions is that it has become possible to think organically in ways that have not previously been possible.

- Consumers can now buy various organic products such as coffee, oil, chocolate and pizza, and there are also several different brands to choose from in the traditional, organic product categories, says MSc in Marketing Boyan Vasilev, who participated in the project.

Less loyalty among organic consumers

Seven out of the nine product categories in the study showed a clear market share increase. But the researchers also discovered that the same number of products did not show an increase in consumer loyalty – that is, how many times consumers buy the same product. In fact, consumers are likely to deselect organic products because they are still not as accessible as regular food products.

- Producers are facing a challenge because the competition is very strong when it comes to organic food, and the consumers are not so loyal. The organic label may function as an umbrella covering all the products, which means that people tend to alternate more between the different organic products compared to traditional food. Even in those cases where accessibility does not pose a problem, says Polymeros Chrysochou.

Accessibility, recognition and broad appeal

According to Polymeros Chrysochou, producers should not believe that consumers are more interested in the brand because the food is organic. Furthermore, the competition from both organic and non-organic products is probably too strong.

- Consumers often say that they are loyal to an organic product, but they are actually not. If people cannot find the right organic milk, they just buy non-organic milk rather than going to another supermarket or waiting until the next time they go shopping.

Seen in this light, the researcher has three good pieces of advice for producers:

1. Make your organic products more accessible; 2. Make them more identifiable through proper and instantly recognizable labelling; 3. Reach out to more consumers, and not just those who claim that they buy organic food.

Further information

Polymeros Chrysochou, Postdoctoral Researcher

Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences

Department of Business Administration

MAPP

Adjunct Lecturer, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, School of Marketing, University of South Australia

Tel.: (+45) 871 64 689

E-mail: polyc@asb.dk

Web: http://au.dk/en/polyc

 

Boyan Vasilev, MSc in Marketing

Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences

Department of Business Administration

Tel: (+45) 424 14 628

E-mail: vassilev.boyan@gmail.com

Research, Forside au.dk
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Tine Bagger Christiansen

Revised 2014.04.11

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