Natural Product Sales Up Significantly in 2020, Both Pre-Pandemic and During

Chicago, IL—New research from IRI and SPINS reveals that consumers are purchasing more natural products in 2020, both pre-pandemic and during the pandemic, according to a press release. The new report highlights consumers’ product and shopping preferences, strategies for manufacturers and retailers to attract and retain customers, and suggested strategies to employ that will maximize future opportunities.

Steve Ramsey, EVP and GM, Strategic Accounts, IRI, gave this overview in the press release: “Dollar sales for natural products continue to grow over one year ago, as much as an astounding 78% in the middle of March during consumers’ initial stock-up period and continuing in the high teens at present. Given that natural products represent more than 8% of total store sales year-to-date and are outpacing sales of conventional products, there are significant opportunities for manufacturers and retailers alike to show support for consumers.”

Kathryn Peters, EVP at SPINS, added: “We continue to see an ongoing shift in shopper thinking when selecting from natural and conventional products. As the pandemic dominates the news and the focus remains on health and well-being, natural products will continue to outperform other products as consumers continue to invest in better-for-you items to eat, use on their bodies, and to maintain their homes.”

Other key findings the press release points out:

  • Natural product shoppers are not abandoning this focus during COVID-19; they are doubling down, carefully studying label claims and certifications. They are also beginning to focus on e-commerce, particularly in the post-stock-up period.
  • New customers are coming to the natural product marketplace, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. This provides an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to create loyalty with new shoppers, as well as reinforce their commitment to existing ones. One opportunity noted: “True Believers” and “Enlightened Environmentalists” represent 22% of total shoppers, but 44% of natural product sales.
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IRI and SPINS predict that shoppers will adapt strategies that include looking for sale items, larger package sizes, private-label options, and others that will help them handle heightened costs due to plant closures. This is already bearing out—the release says that sales of private label supplements jumped 1,286% compared to a year ago, and as compared to 41% total category growth. Sales of private-label household cleaners and supplies grew 120% compared to 37% total category growth.

Three core strategies IRI and SPINS recommend in the press release:

  1. Reinforce commitment to current shoppers by better understanding their engagement with natural foods, and design strategies to maintain their loyalty and increase share of basket.
  2. Identify potential new buyers, gain a deep understanding of their behaviors, build conversion strategies and actively engage them through targeted marketing.
  3. Continuously refine a fluid channel strategy to reflect changing circumstances that target both brick-and-mortar stores and the growing importance of e-commerce.

Those looking to learn more can find COVID-19 and Navigating the Path Ahead: Supporting the Natural Products Consumer here. Additionally, IRI and SPINS will host a webinar on Tuesday, June 9, at 1 pm CT. Interested parties can register here.