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    ACNielsen Research Identifies Need for Consumer Education on Organics

    LOS ANGELES - New research by ACNielsen U.S., an operating unit of ACNielsen, a VNU Company, shows that organic food shoppers are extremely loyal to the category, while non-buyers have virtually no interest in organic products. Both groups likely need more education on the topic.

    LOS ANGELES - New research by ACNielsen U.S., an operating unit of ACNielsen, a VNU Company, shows that organic food shoppers are extremely loyal to the category, while non-buyers have virtually no interest in organic products. Both groups likely need more education on the topic.

    The latest findings from ACNielsen Consumer Pre*View, a service that utilizes the ACNielsen Homescan consumer panel to analyze consumer attitudes and behavior, were released in Los Angeles during ACNielsen's 2002 Category Masters client conference.

    The study found that, of the one-third of consumers who have purchased organic food or beverage products in the past six months, 85 percent plan to continue purchasing organics. However, among non-buyers, only three percent plan to buy such products in the next six months.

    Phil Lempert, food industry analyst and spokesperson for Consumer Pre*View, said, "The high price of organics is the primary obstacle to broader acceptance in the marketplace. I expect prices to decline as more mainstream manufacturers broaden the array of organics available to consumers, but manufacturers and retailers also have a significant opportunity to increase sales by clearing up consumer confusion and providing more education about the benefits of organics."

    When asked how they feel about organic products, 63 percent agreed that "organic products are more expensive than similar non-organic products," far ahead of other attributes such as "no pesticides" (41 percent), "healthier" 26 percent), "do not contain genetically modified organisms" (22 percent), "better quality" (14 percent), and "less likely to have a food allergy reaction" (13 percent).

    The latest ACNielsen Consumer Pre*View study also found consumers who indicated an intention to eat healthier have, in fact, made purchases in line with that intention. The study compared buying behavior among consumers who, in a March/April 2002 survey, said they planned to eat healthier in the next six months with those who said they did not plan to eat healthier. Subsequent purchasing was analyzed within four categories -- salad dressing, ice cream, mayonnaise and frozen dinners -- that include products that make healthy claims such as low fat or reduced calories, versus those without healthy claims.

    Across all four categories, consumers who intended to eat healthier showed a higher incidence of purchasing the products within each category that had healthy claims. Those consumers were also found to be less deal sensitive when it came to purchasing products with healthy claims.

    According to Nick Sorvillo, senior vice president, ACNielsen Homescan, "When it comes to eating healthier, we found that consumers are, in fact, backing up their intentions with their purchase decisions. The fact that they are less deal sensitive when it comes to purchasing products with healthy claims is further evidence of their resolve to eat healthier. The take-away for marketers is that they must continue moving beyond segmenting consumers by demographics alone and tailor their efforts to different attitudinal segments."

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