With the popularity of organic food on the rise, more organic products are showing up in stores. Whether in regular aisles or hidden away in “the green ghetto”, organics are getting shelf space where they used to have no shot. For a guy like me, marketing sustainability, this retail success trend begs the question, “Now what?” That is, now that organic products are gaining prominence in store, what do these products need to do in order to gain prominence on shopping lists as well?
Of course, generating “gotta-have-it” demand is the ultimate goal. But in the sustainability realm (and we’d put organics squarely in that bucket), you have to navigate roadblocks that just don’t exist in conventional product marketing. So here are four communication “musts” to successfully market an emerging category like organics:
1. First and foremost, don’t preach. Mainstream consumers don’t want to be guilted into a purchase or hear anything that sounds remotely like an “agenda.” The specific target audience for organics is less likely to be turned off than the general public, but will still react negatively to a finger wag. A preachy message is hard to stay away from without experience and, when delivered, is a sure-fire way to move the consumer down the aisle and away from your product.
2. Instead, show them benefits that already fit into their lifestyles. You can likely prove to them that the benefits of organics (peace of mind, healthy living, respect for the environment) are already part of their values – so you can easily create an emotional connection and logical reason to buy that will have long lasting effects.
3. When forming this connection, don’t talk to your end consumers; talk with them. Find some common ground and start a conversation. You’ll find people are more open to the message when it feels more like a two-way discussion and less like a lecture. It’s this kind of engagement that will live beyond the store and even beyond the product itself, into the happy land of Brand Loyalty.
4. Finally, remember that sustainability marketing programs cannot succeed on facts alone. You must entertain first, then lead. And it’s that emotional connection with the consumer that will dictate the story you tell. So be compelling. Be disruptive. Get a reaction – be it a smile, a chill or a lump in the throat. Always remember to keep the message simple, be entertaining and leave an impression that will cause an action to take place.