Organic low on list of looked-for onpack claims

This survey was carried out by MMR and has some sobering news for organic marketeers.

“Only nine percent of consumers actively seek out organic product claims; with organic being ranked 27th of 34 commonly ‘looked for’ product claims by UK shoppers

Research to coincide with the Soil Association Organic Fortnight (September 3rd to 17th) shows that organic as a food product claim is ‘looked for’ by only nine percent of consumers which ranks it 27th on a list of 34 of the most sought out product claims by UK shoppers. As producers fight back after the recession-influenced fall in sales of organic products, organic food manufacturers are advised to look beyond a simple organic message and exploit other product claims which are proven to resonate much more strongly with the British public.

“Consumers are telling us that organic as a ‘brand’ is not much of a turn on,” says Mat Lintern, managing director of MMR Research Worldwide, the food and drink research specialist which ran the survey of more than 1,000 UK consumers this summer. “Yet, they find claims such as ‘healthy’, ‘natural’ and ‘free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives’ – benefits clearly associated with organic food – up to five times as appealing. This is consistent with findings from our other research that a large proportion of today’s consumers seek to avoid foods containing so-called ‘nasties’. They look for confirmation signals on labeling and other marketing material that food is as natural or ‘not tampered with’ as possible. The implication for organic food brands is to introduce more of the benefits of organic into their messaging, instead of relying on organic alone.”

The most motivating product claims found by the survey were ‘healthy’ and ‘low fat’ with 43 percent of consumers stating they actively seek out those claims when shopping for food. This is followed by ‘low in sugar’ (36 percent), ‘low in salt’ (34 percent) and ‘low in calorie’ (31 percent) claims. Interestingly, 25 percent of consumers look for ‘locally produced’ products (it was the 11th most appealing product claim) and 19 percent – more than double the positive response to organic – cited ‘fair trade’ as a looked for claim. Other ‘losers’ in the list include ‘antioxidants’ (9 percent) and ‘pro-biotic’ and ‘pre-biotic’ claims (8 and 5 percent respectively).

The most “looked for” product claims from UK consumers

No./ Product claim / %

1 Healthy 43%

2 Low fat 43%

3 Low in sugar 36%

4 Low salt 34%

5 Low calorie 31%

6 Free range 30%

7 Natural 29%

8 Free of artificial colours & flavours 28%

9 Wholegrain 27%

10 Free of artificial preservatives 26%

(27 Organic 9%)

Another interesting finding from the survey is the decline in the perception of the growing popularity of buying organic produce. Whereas in June 2008, 64 percent of consumers felt that organic produce was growing in popularity, that number had dropped by over 20 percentage points to just 43 percent by June 2010. In the same survey, 25 percent thought organic produce was “on its way out.”

This research is compiled by the MMR Pulse programme, a food and drink trend-tracking information resource. A number of the UK’s major food and drinks manufacturers subscribe to the annual programme which includes bi-monthly quantitative studies of 1,000 UK shoppers.

About MMR Research Worldwide

MMR Research Worldwide is a leading research partner for food, drink and personal care companies with offices in the UK and the USA. With profound expertise in sensory research, product testing, NPD and emotion-based research, MMR Research Worldwide provides innovative, creative and scientifically robust research and is a trusted advisor on all product, brand and packaging strategy decisions. As part of the MMR Group, the company’s clients have access to a variety of unique research assets including Brandphonics® — a new emotion-based approach to identify what influences consumer choice – an in-house sensory facility and MMR Pulse, a food and drink trend-tracking information resource. The MMR Group is a privately-owned research company employing in excess of 100 people. Founded in 1989 by Professor David Thomson, the Group is headquartered in Oxfordshire, UK and has a rapidly growing business unit in New York, US.