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Research Shows Natural Product Sales Up Significantly This Year

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New research from IRI and Spins, a provider of wellness-focused data technology and market analytics, reveals that consumers are purchasing more natural products in 2020, both pre-COVID-19 as well as throughout the current pandemic.


A new report, COVID-19 and Navigating the Path Ahead: Supporting the Natural Products Consumer, highlights natural shoppers’ product and shopping preferences. In addition, the report contains recommended strategies for manufacturers/retailers to attract and retain consumers as well as suggested strategies to maximize future opportunities.

“Dollar sales for natural products continue to grow over one year ago, as much as an astounding 78 percent in the middle of March during consumers’ initial stock-up period and continuing in the high teens at present,” said Steve Ramsey, EVP and general manager of strategic accounts for IRI. “Given that natural products represent more than 8 percent of total store sales year-to-date and are outpacing sales of conventional products, there are significant opportunities for manufacturers and retailers alike to show support for consumers.”

According to IRI and SPINS research, natural-product shoppers are doubling down during the pandemic, adjusting their preferences by seeking and avoiding various ingredients and carefully studying label claims and certifications.

One important change that shoppers are making is channel-shifting, with a particular focus on e-commerce, particularly in the post-stock-up period. Trips per buyer for natural products versus one year ago grew a dramatic 27 percent for e-commerce while exhibiting slow or negative growth among other channels.

Similarly, e-commerce dollar purchases per buyer of natural products rose 15 percent compared to one year ago, at roughly the same pace as for the grocery channel. Other channels grew at a significantly slower rate.

“We continue to see an ongoing shift in shopper thinking when selecting from natural and conventional products,” said Kathryn Peters, EVP at Spins and 25-year veteran of the grocery industry. “As the pandemic dominates the news and the focus remains on health and well-being, natural products will continue to outperform other products as consumers continue to invest in better-for-you items to eat, use on their bodies and to maintain their homes.”

IRI and Spins report that health concerns surrounding COVID-19 have driven a wider range of shoppers to the natural marketplace, creating an important opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to create loyalty with new shoppers as well as reinforce their commitment to existing ones.

The two companies say that brands and retailers can gain valuable insights from both past weeks’ behavioral data and shopping patterns during the last recession.

Below, are three, core strategies that IRI and Spins recommend for success:

  • Reinforce commitment to current shoppers by better understanding their engagement with natural foods, and design strategies to maintain their loyalty and increase share of basket.
  • Identify potential new buyers, gain a deep understanding of their behaviors, build conversion strategies and actively engage them through targeted marketing.
  • Continuously refine a fluid channel strategy to reflect changing circumstances that target both brick-and-mortar stores and the growing importance of e-commerce.

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