While Americans want 2020 to be far in the rearview mirror, there’s no doubt that the last year has driven lasting change across the grocery industry. Consumers have fundamentally shifted how they shop and what products they are buying, with analysts emphasizing that pandemic-induced consumer trends are here to stay. Between the rise of at-home cooking and digital grocery shopping, the homebody economy offers brands a unique opportunity to deliver transparency and authenticity like never before.
As the Natural Products industry looks to evolve amid a time of disruption, brands that ask consumers what they want – and deliver on those opportunities – will be better positioned to evolve with the changing times. This drive to better serve the consumer is at the heart of Nature Nate’s Honey Co.’s recent brand evolution, which begins to hit shelves across the U.S. this month.
Prioritizing Brand Trust
As the No. 1 branded honey in the U.S., Nature Nate’s gained consumer interest with its iconic bright orange label and built customer loyalty by delivering an award-winning taste in an always-high-quality product. But to continue its momentum as the leader, Nature Nate’s recognized it needed a better way to help consumers find exactly what they were looking for: pure honey from a source they could trust.
The Honey category’s rise in household penetration amid the pandemic in 2020 increased that need and its urgency. Honey experienced sales more than 25 percent higher than the same period last year, and while other food categories experienced a shift to normal levels, household penetration in Honey has grown. During this significant increase, Nature Nate’s 100 percent pure, raw and unfiltered honey continued to lead the category.
“We knew that now was the time for Nature Nate’s to make a bold move toward ensuring consumer trust as more consumers enter the Honey category and as consumer behavior in the Honey category dramatically shifted from being viewed as a commodity to being seen as a premium, brand-driven product,” said Nathan Sheets, founder and CEO of Nature Nate’s.
Comparing an IRI Honey Category Consumer Decision Tree from 2016 to 2020, the decision of brand moved from the fourth purchase driver to second purchase driver behind only the segment decision of raw and unfiltered vs. regular.
This significant jump in brand importance emphasized the opportunity for Nature Nate’s to evolve its look and feel, expand its category leadership and build on its share of the market.
Rooted in Data
Approaching a rebrand can be daunting for any company, especially when initial and repeat purchase are at all-time highs. But Nature Nate’s data-led brand evolution was based on both qualitative and quantitative studies. The company conducted multiple research packaging studies and surveyed more than 800 Nature Nate’s brand ambassadors and 600 honey consumers. The company also commissioned a proprietary honey AAU study from IRI in which intel from 2,800 honey consumers was gathered.
Informed with purchase-driven data, Nature Nate’s Honey Co. crafted a new look. Though the bright orange paper remains the same, the label was redesigned specifically to highlight honey purity, award-winning taste and industry-leading testing.
“As we reviewed the data, we better understood changes we could make on a brand level to better serve honey consumers,” said Haley Neid, director of brand management for Nature Nate’s. “For example, our research revealed that three of the top four purchase drivers for honey are related to purity. This insight was the birthplace of our purity guarantee, which is both a symbol and promise to our consumers. Through internal and third-party testing measures, we are able to ensure with confidence the best honey ends up in our bottle.”
Nature Nate’s purity guarantee is unique in the market, showcasing unparalleled transparency in its bottling processes, beginning with the beekeeper and ending at the consumer’s table. The guarantee processes make possible an unmatched level of care and precision that consumers trust.
Another revealing find from the honey AAU study was that taste was identified as the third-most-important feature driving purchase for a honey brand. Taste has always been prioritized at Nature Nate’s, with a food scientist on staff dedicated to maintaining a proprietary blend of varietals to craft a consistent, award-winning flavor in every bottle. After this finding, it was a no-brainer for the brand to add a line on the front of the label all about taste.
“When shopping for honey, it is clear consumers are focused on two important attributes: purity and taste,” said Neid. “As category leader for 100 percent pure, raw and unfiltered honey, our brand evolution offers an even more simplified, modern look to help busy shoppers understand quickly that not only is our honey the best tasting but it’s also sourced from trusted beekeepers and adheres to strict testing procedures.”
While it was critical to listen to the general honey consumer, maintaining loyalty with core consumers was just as imperative for Nature Nate’s. The brand asked for feedback from their brand ambassadors, who provided a strong fan perspective. The support for the updated label was overwhelming, as 87 percent deemed the new label visually appealing and ranked it more trustworthy, pure and natural looking than the old label.
With today’s consumers realizing more and more that honey is an extremely versatile sweetener that can be used for a variety of occasions – from coffee, tea and oatmeal at breakfast, to weeknight cooking for dinner, to beauty routines on the weekend – Nature Nate’s commitment to purity and trust isn’t new.
“From the very beginning, we’ve been committed to source only the best, 100 percent pure honey. It’s why we have industry-leading testing,” said Sheets. “It’s why we have a consistent blend that produces exceptional taste and award-winning flavor. We owe it to our consumers to be trusted, so they can confidently enjoy honey as nature intended. I’m exceptionally proud that our brand evolution highlights our dedication to meeting our consumers’ demands and expectations.”
Leading Brands Evolve with Consumers
Why mess with a brand that works? Because irrelevancy isn’t an ingredient for success.
Consumers and their purchase drivers change. Categories and shelves change. Retailers’ strategies and buyers’ perspectives change. If companies remain complacent with what they’ve achieved today, they will miss opportunities to gain share and keep loyalty tomorrow.