Although we talk a big game when it comes to gardening more organically, we’re not following through, according to the latest findings from the Garden Writers Association. I serve on the committee that formulates the questions and tracks consumer trends in lawn and garden. In our most recent survey conducted this past October and recently released, we focused on Consumer Attitudes on Organic Gardening. Here’s a brief summary from some of the findings:
Good intentions – poor execution
80% of consumers said they would use more organic products if they knew they could get as effective results for no additional cost. 60% said they would use more organic products if they could be convinced that organics are just as effective as non-organic products.
My conclusion: We still have a lot of explaining to do to enlighten consumers on how they think about organics. First hurdle: organics do work; they just don’t work exactly the same way as synthetic products. It’s a different mindset. Will that make a difference for the crowd that needs it to work like, yesterday? Definitely. We’re kidding ourselves to think otherwise.
More Costly but worth it (so they say)
Of all the consumers that say they’d make the switch, from the above findings we see that only 20% of them wouldn’t do it if the organic or natural products cost more. And according to the survey, 70% of those polled equate organics as being more costly to buy. The downside is, there’s still 20% of consumers that want to be more sustainable but only if it’s not going to cost them more. Food for thought: costs aren’t always measured in dollars and cents.
Supply and demand affected by consumer confusion
55% of consumers say that they would like to use organic products more if they could simply find them in a store. Now that’s a disappointment. I wonder if this next finding is related: 53% say that they would use more organic products if they understood what to buy and how to use it. I can’t help but wonder if some of those products are actually on the store shelves; they just don’t realize it.
My take: This is an area of frustration for me. It’s true. Green products in general just aren’t getting the shelf space they need to sell. I understand from a retailer’s perspective the need to move product. I get that. However, I haven’t seen a lot of great examples in my travels of stores that are making it any easier on the consumer to find and buy these green goods either. Clearly that’s exacerbated by the fact that home gardeners are still so confused on what to buy and how to use these products. It doesn’t help that a lot of the retail sales help (especially the big box boys) are clueless when it comes to making appropriate recommendations. So I can’t blame the consumer when they throw their hands up in frustration and resort to their old ways.
What do YOU say?
So here’s the bottom line to all of this. Most consumers have good intentions. But, they’re telling us they still don’t have enough information to know what to buy or if organic / natural products even work well enough to make the switch. And if they’re still on the fence, the perception of higher pricing for green products isn’t going to help lead to widespread acceptance of eco-friendly goods anytime soon…especially when consumers want them to work the same way as their current products. I’d like to hear what you think. Are you an organic gardener? If not, are you moving in that direction or not? I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks in advance.
p.s. They survey was conducted through TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, a national consumer polling organization. The research statistically represents the attitudes of over 100 million households with an accuracy of 95% (+/- 3.1 percentage points)