Why 'organic' needs a re-brand

Last September, Suzanne wrote a blog post called“Organic” needs a re-brand. In it, she highlighted a sampling of quotes from our Pulse Focus Groups:

“I think everything’s organic — isn’t the definition of organic that it grows?”

“Once you add plastic to a product you’re taking away some of the organic.”

“Aren’t all bananas organic anyway?  They all come off trees.”

“A cereal box can say it’s certified organic, but read the ingredients and you’ll see it still has just as much sugar and all the added preservatives of the non-organic cereal … and it’s way more expensive.”

These quotes exemplified the consumer confusion surrounding the term “organic” with their absolute confidence that they knew “exactly what they were talking about” being the kicker. It’s almost a year later, and while we’re seeing continued interest in organics, we’re not seeing an uptick in organics purchase behavior.

In our soon-to-be-published Eco Pulse™ 2012 study, 54% of Americans chose either “100% organic” or “USDA–certified organic” as one of the best descriptions to read on a food product label – while 42% said that they are seriously searching for “greener” food products. Only 19%, however, said that they most often buy organic produce or beef (compared to 22% in 2011). So what’s the disconnect?

Price.

We frequently hear this complaint in consumer focus groups, so we took a trip to our local Kroger this week to investigate. There, we found these price premiums for organic foods:

BABY FOOD – 54% Premium
Gerber regular 7 oz./2 pack: $1.09 (sale price)
Gerber organic 7 oz./2 pack: $1.63

MILK – 33% Premium
Mayfield 2% gallon: $4.49
Simple Truth 2% organic, gallon: $5.99

YOGURT – 20% Premium
Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla yogurt, 32 oz, tub: $2.49
Simple Truth organic vanilla yogurt, 32 oz.  tub: $2.99

Next page: Elite or egalitarian?