Recession: Catalyst for Natural Products Growth?

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it; however, those who learn from history can reap the benefits. Many of today’s household brands realized the greatest gains in market-share during economic downturns. GE, P&G, Kellogg and Chevrolet all established market leadership during the Great Depression.

As the only exclusively natural and organic brand development agency, Pure Branding makes it our business to understand the challenges and opportunities the natural products industry faces. This is the beginning of a series that will address what natural and organic brands need to do to flourish in a changing market environment. Yes, we did say flourish.

All consumers are in some fashion re-evaluating their purchase decisions. Functional and emotional needs will still drive selection during times of uncertainty, when assurance is needed as much as savings.

This is the beginning of what we hope to be a fruitful and collaborative dialogue with leaders in the natural products industry to help promote growth and sustainability, and set the stage for the household brands of 2019.

Three must-do’s for natural and organic branding in 2009

1. Go deeper

One in three new products in 2007 made some claim to being all-natural. Being sustainable, all-natural or even organic is no longer a differentiating proposition for your brand. To stand out from the commodity options, play to your brand strengths. You are an originator, you have established authenticity and cultivated goodwill. Build on this emotional connection with your loyal consumers. A connection that is no longer based on attributes, like features on a car, but on how your brand has come to define the experience your product fulfills. This is something to understand more clearly and celebrate. Know you stand for more than a feature list and avoid the commodity chase. For example, brands like Annie’s Homegrown, whose start was based on natural/organic attributes and has since matured into fun, wholesome, family foods.

2. Be essential

It is better to be an essential to a few than a nice-to-have to many. The lifetime value of loyal customers who feel that your brand is really for them, reflects their values and meets their unique needs far exceeds that of fickle customers who constantly switch brands in search of a bargain. To achieve this level of commitment, know who these loyal customers are, be bold enough to stand for them and apply new thinking that breaks away from the traditional concepts of mass marketing. Know what moves them, angers them and inspires them. Be what they dream to be, see and experience. In return, they’ll be willing to pay more, allow your brand to expand its role in their lives and be brand champions — even in hard economic times. Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems, maker of the top-selling multivitamin in the natural sector, has introduced GreenDog™ Naturals, a line of pet supplements, illustrating how the assurance of safe, effective and natural ingredients the brand is known for allows it to extend its presence in the consumers’ life to their pet.

3. Act with purpose and confidence

Boldly state your brand’s position and stand by it. Confidence radiates, and consumers and the trade are assured when the brand stays on radar. Gain share of audience and shelf space as the competition retreats. Now is a great opportunity for cost-effective brand growth that will offer returns into the future. Media can be had for less, fewer messages compete for consumer attention and shelf space is opening up. Colgate-Palmolive is projecting a 4-6% growth in 2009 and P&G is still maintaining leadership position in many categories with aggressive marketing campaigns, yet both have not raised their marketing budgets.