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article imageBusinesses using big data to track organic food consumers

By Tim Sandle     Dec 10, 2017 in Business
Big data analytics are vital for retail. One research area has been with the growth in spending on organic produce. Here data analytics have been used by businesses to track and predict consumer shopping patterns.
Data science methods, deployed by Aarhus University researchers, affirm that consumers with an interest in ‘organic’ products are show no sign of decreasing this preference for less ‘artificial’ product; moreover, this constituency are buying more and more organic products and they are following an increasingly predictable pattern.
For the study, the Danish researchers collected data relating to the daily shopping habits of some 10,000 households, collected this information over a period of 20 months. The data sets were then subject to big data analysis.
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Professor John Thøgersen stated: “In connection with organic consumption, there has previously been talk of an 'organic staircase' in the sense that consumers are generally buying certain organic products before others.”
In contrast, the academic said his research “shows that in fact we're dealing with an escalator where the upwards movement is taking place automatically. Once you've purchased your first organic product, you're not likely to stop. You'll continue and over time, you'll increase your organic shopping list. And you'll even be following a rather predictable consumption pattern.”
In terms of entry products, organic milk is the foremost one. However, as consumers alter their behavior towards organic produce the biggest seller, at least in the Danish context, becomes oatmeal.
From then on, following these initial purchases consumers engage in behaviors where the number of different types of organic products purchased then expand. After milk and oatmeal comes vegetables, eggs, and baking ingredients.
The reason this happens, the researchers argue, is because consumers who purchase organic products think of themselves as engaging in virtuous behavior. Once this feeling becomes connected with the act of spending, it is difficult to disassociate.
The results have implications for food retail businesses, in how they appeal to shoppers; how stores are laid out; and how promotions are run. Data analytics like this can be used to target the marketing of organic products to specific customer segments, with the object of speeding up the “organic escalator.”
The consumer pattern research has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The research paper is headed "Will the Consistent Organic Food Consumer Step Forward? An Empirical Analysis."
More about Organic food, Consumer, Shopping, big data, data science
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