Written by Mark Crist, CBX
The organic market continues its decades-long growth trajectory through mainstream expansion, making organic, better-for-you food and beverages more accessible than ever before across a variety of categories and stores.
Organic food and beverages have become household staples for many people. 82% of consumers Make sure you are purchasing and using organic foods and beverages. Almost half of Millennials use organic products at least weekly, and even some baby boomers who were slow to adopt organic products (18%) use such products at least weekly.
Organic brands are becoming more affordable and competition is increasing across all categories as big brands move aggressively into the space. Mainstream retailers are trying to capture consumers and growth from the specialty stores that once dominated this niche market. Retailers are also developing more affordable private label products to overcome the high cost disincentive for mainstream consumers.
However, the expansion of organic foods is also accelerating a paradox of choice, where consumers are left navigating an increasingly complex decision-making environment between healthy and organic food options. This choice is driven not only by similar competitors in the category, but also by mainstream brands that own the shelves of traditional big box stores.
Most retailers viewed organic shoppers as a small group of individuals who were considered more nature-conscious and earthy. But today, organic is no longer a secondary consideration for consumers. Between a growing desire for healthy food options, growing environmental concerns and social causes, and expanding availability of organic products, consumer change can no longer be ignored. Being organic and good for you is no longer a trend, but rather an expectation.
Differences between organic and conventional consumers
So how can natural and organic packaging design explain its transition from a social movement-based niche category to a mainstream indicator of quality across food and beverage categories?
First, capturing this consumer through both traditional and organic channels starts with understanding the differences in consumer behavior, desires, beliefs, and habits.
Consumers in the organic channel enjoy spending more time in-store exploring, discovering, and trying new products. They are more adventurous, health conscious, less price sensitive and willing to try new brands and unique or better products. For these consumers, packaging design and ingredients are important. These shoppers are often looking for unexpected, high-quality products and are willing to pay a premium for them. In short, they care about what brands say about them as consumers.
Conversely, traditional channel consumers are typically less curious, more skeptical, more price sensitive, and more brand loyal. They often stick to well-known products and are less likely to spend time and money exploring new items. They enter the supermarket with a shorter time frame and a mission to understand more clearly which mainstream brands they buy and why.
According to the main motivation for purchasing natural and organic products Mintel Natural and Organic Food Shopper (2022) The data shows that overall health (50%) is followed by avoidance of artificial ingredients (38%) and pesticides (35%), indicating that consumers’ purchase intentions are primarily driven by personal health reasons. It shows that.
We believe that to appeal to such contrasting consumers, brands need to place greater emphasis on their biggest sales force: packaging design.
How packaging design supports the transition to mass premium
A brand’s packaging design continues to sell 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is the true MVP of the brand. Packaging must consistently and effectively tell your brand’s story and clearly and subversively communicate your brand’s benefits. In doing so, packaging design can open the door to new partnerships, drive velocity, and potentially even inspire culture. What’s more, mastering packaging design is a key way for brands to boldly move from natural and organic to conventional.
Of all the brands I’ve worked with, Love Corn has been the epitome of a natural/organic and conventional crossover success story. Love Corn has become one of the UK’s fastest growing snack brands by partnering with airlines and distributing in over 10,000 of his stores across natural and public waterways on this side of the pond. did. The unsung hero of this story was an attractive packaging design with a large friendly brand mark and bright colors that stood out on the shelf among mainstream salty snacks. The front panel emphasizes key benefits such as gluten-free and vegan, infusing the sentiment tied to the brand name. This strategy falls under what we call “mass premium.”
Mass premium requires a packaging design that is simple enough to be accessible to the mass market, yet premium enough to attract the attention of natural and organic consumers. This includes the use of bold colors, appealing and approachable language, clear communication hierarchies, smart product presentation, and strong brand blocks to ensure brand excellence doesn’t get lost in crowded aisles. means.
Both Liquid Death and GoMacro gained market share in the mass premium market by relying on similar strategies of big brand presence and eye-catching illustrations to tell their brand stories. Brands like Siete Chips have done this through bold, iconic graphics that connect tradition with powerful lifestyles like paleo and veganism. The fusion of these brands lies in their commitment to designing for a premium base, while being careful not to alienate their mass market target in the process.
By adopting these branding and design principles, brands can move from small startup status to large brand status, and it’s financially proven.
It’s clear that everything from your brand’s logo to your choice of tone of voice plays a big role in your transition. By studying the environment and understanding category cues (both organic and conventional), brands can take advantage of and disrupt the status quo and engage consumers.
Whether it’s a box of cereal, a pack of cookies, or a can of soda, attention to detail is required to make it stand out. Create visual and verbal messages and experiment with space-disrupting aesthetics to help consumers quickly understand what your product is and why they should use it. It will be.
This means making sure to consider the dynamics of where your brand is placed in-store, understanding what’s important to not just mainstream consumers, but real, healthy loyalists, and brands that speak to purpose and emotion. You need to tell your story, your true recipe for success. In the world of “mass premium”.
Mark Christou is president of CBX, an independent brand strategy and design agency based in New York City and Minneapolis. Prior to joining CBX, Mark was a founder and creative partner at ROOK/NYC, a founder and partner at R/Co Ventures, and a co-founder of Love Corn and Culture POP Soda.