Woman and child shopping at store

Who’s Really Buying Natural and Organic Products: Unlocking the Market with Consumer Segmentation from SPINS and IRI

by Jill Failla

Which shoppers make up the core natural and organic segments? SPINS’ and IRI’s NaturaLink™ consumer segmentations show it’s the True Believers and the Enlightened Environmentalists, who represent about 20% of the total population but contribute 38% of total natural and organic dollar sales. Focusing on these two groups is a high (and lucrative) priority in the Natural Products Industry, but how can brands and retailers better understand the remaining 80% of the population and 62% of natural product sales volume?


By looking at consumer profiles through their share of spend on natural and organic products, NaturaLink segmentations help brands and retailers understand the nuances of these customers and how their health & wellness demands and behaviors are evolving. Here we examine four key groups from SPINS’ and IRI’s comprehensive consumer segmentation for unique insight into the growing health & wellness industry.


True Believers

10% of U.S. Households

26% of Natural Product $ Volume


Making up about half of the core group of natural and organic consumers, True Believers take pride in choosing natural and organic products and prioritize sustainability. They care about staying fit and healthy and make sure their children live the same type of lifestyle. In food and beverage, the top priority is natural ingredients, followed by organic ingredients, though the number one thing these shoppers are willing to pay more for is organic food and beverage claims.



Enlightened Environmentalists


10% of U.S. Households

12% of Natural Product $ Volume


Rounding out the remaining half of the core group of natural and organic consumers are the Enlightened Environmentalists. As their segment name suggests, these shoppers buy products that support the environment. They also make healthy purchasing choices and go out of their way to shop at stores that carry natural and organic products. Similar to True Believers, Enlightened Environmentalists first seek out natural ingredients in food and beverage, but they are most willing to pay more for organic food and beverage.


Together, True Believers and Enlightened Environmentalists take significantly more trips to the store per year and spend more money per buyer than the average household.


Vital as True Believers and Enlightened Environmentalists are to successful strategy in the Natural Products Industry, another two groups represent significant opportunity for brands and retailers, comprising an additional 28% of natural and organic purchase volume.


Healthy Realists

14% of U.S. Households

16% of Natural Product $ Volume


Healthy Realists are passionate about staying healthy and fit, making exercise a priority. They are also among the first of their friends to try something new. These shoppers are open to buying natural, organic, and eco-friendly items, but they sometimes have a hard time deciding whether to buy them or the conventional products. They prioritize good taste and effectiveness of products for themselves, but they are more concerned about buying natural and organic items for their children.


Strapped Seekers

10% U.S. Households

12% of Natural Product $ Volume


Strapped Seekers try to seek out natural and organic products, but their limited budgets are often a barrier to buying brand names. In lieu of brand names, they’ll often select store-brand products. Like Healthy Realists, above all else, taste and effectiveness are the two most important things Strapped Seekers look for when buying products. Possible entry points for these on-the-fence buyers are indulgence categories like ice cream as well as vitamins and supplements when made readily available at mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs.


And everyone else…


Making up 57% of U.S. households and 34% of the Natural Products Industry by dollars, Indifferent Traditionalists, Struggling Switchers, and even Resistant Non-Believers represent a large group of consumers with great potential to eventually increase their share of natural and organic purchases. Of course, many of these consumers will always look for conventional favorite foods and lowest possible price points.


What are the health & wellness attributes that resonate most strongly with these non-core consumers? NaturaLink survey data shows that a third or more of these consumer segments say it’s important for food and beverage items to be antibiotic-free, and at least two-fifths of these consumers say they prefer to shop for food and beverage items containing simple ingredients – pointing to the importance of clean labels.


Want to know more? Only SPINS’ Consumer Insights Solutions provides a comprehensive look at the shifting consumer behaviors and need states driving the health & wellness retail industry. Contact your SPINS rep or Director of Consumer Insights, Patrick Knight, at [email protected] to dig deeper into NaturaLink consumer segmentation.


SPINS Consumer Insights (IRI Consumer Panel), Total US All Outlets, 52 weeks ending 12/25/16.