There are “…some key areas where natural continues to be really important and shoppers are continuing to engage despite inflation where they’re saying, ‘Natural’s important to me and I will continue to spend a little bit of extra money despite price.’” – Jessica Maniscalco, SPINS
Addressing the ongoing theme of inflation, Jessica Maniscalco, Senior Retail Insights Manager of market intelligence firm SPINS, said, “While the impact is still present in natural and specialty accounts, it’s being felt at a lesser rate than in conventional channels.”
Speaking at a recently held mid-year industry trends update webinar hosted by Naturally Network, Maniscalco shared that the drug, convenience and natural channels have seen lower price increases, “which lowers the growth rate compared to the conventional channel,” where price increases have been higher.
According to multi-year data tracking by SPINS, Maniscalco said that over time, “overall dollars have continued to grow across all positioning groups while units have been negatively impacted, especially with conventional products, which holds the lion’s share of sales.” Thus, while inflation is impacting overall unit growth everywhere, conventional products are being the most impacted.
“We all know what was going on with eggs most recently and how high the prices have gotten in terms of base price over the past year. So things like eggs, cereal, and bars were among the highest to increase their price. But what you’ll notice during this same time period is that natural and organic products within these same categories have held their prices at a much lower rate than the overall total category during the same time,” Maniscalco said.
Top Natural Categories Show Resilience
Maniscalco noted the top fastest growing categories for natural products, including infant formulas, creamers, salsa and dips, jerky and meat snacks, refrigerated entrees and a few others, are experiencing “exponential growth” versus overall category performance. She also pointed out that there are “…some key areas where natural continues to be really important and shoppers are continuing to engage despite inflation where they’re saying, ‘Natural’s important to me and I will continue to spend a little bit of extra money despite price.’”
In analyzing the composition of conventional, specialty wellness and natural products sales in brick and mortar retail over the past year, Maniscalco reported that specialty wellness products comprised about 15% of overall product sales. “But when it comes to dollar sales growth, it’s lagging while contributing to only 10% of that overall bump. So, this is saying that specialty wellness sales are going up or the dollars are going up, but the price is holding at a lower rate than the conventional and natural products in these channels, so contributing less to the overall growth.”
Maniscalco also reported that, outside of grocery, pet care products and alcoholic beverages also continue to experience significant growth in the natural channel, and advised retailers to be aware of such attributes as “organic,” whose prices have held steadier over time compared to their conventional counterparts.
The Rise of the Values Oriented Shopper
In addition, Maniscalco shared data regarding the impact of the values-oriented shopper. “Value oriented has to do with people that are associating certain values or keeping those top of mind when they they’re shopping at a store and engaging with products. And almost 50% of shoppers are considered value oriented and they shop differently. Almost 90% of them shop at least once a week, which is 1.2 times more than the average shopper. So, they’re a very valuable customer. When asked what was most important to them when they are going about their everyday shopping or looking for new products, is they were really prioritizing ‘good for the planet’ attributes very highly” Maniscalco said.
With such a focus on sustainability, “shoppers are looking more and more now at not only what’s good for you health-wise, but how the impact can really go further and whether it’s good for the planet, good for animals, etc.,” she noted.
“The other thing that value oriented shoppers are looking for more and more now is functionality, and functional ingredients have been on the rise for several years now. But, it’s great to see that it’s no longer limited to just the vitamin section or beverages or bars, but really across all aisles we’re seeing some type of integration with availability, and shoppers are really looking to get more bang for their buck now,” Maniscalco added. “We know that adaptogens in the form of mushrooms have been seeing huge gains in acceptance, especially since COVID, and they are being integrated in many ways across the store.”
The values oriented shopper “is a very valuable customer. When asked what was most important to them when they are going about their everyday shopping or to look for new products is they were really prioritizing good-for-the-planet attributes very highly. The key takeaway here is how important this shopper is,” Maniscalco emphasized.
SPINS will be releasing a full report later this summer.
Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural, providing public relations, brand marketing, social media, and strategic business development services to natural, organic, sustainable and hemp/CBD products businesses. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo, and Hoffman serves as Editor of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact email@example.com.