HEALTH

IRI, SPINS partner on new natural, organic customer segmentation

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — To assist CPG manufacturers and retailers in generating new levels of growth through a better understanding of these shopper needs, Information Resources joined forces with SPINS to create SPINS NaturaLink, a new segmentation of the total U.S. population, which focuses on how shoppers think about, purchase and use natural/organic/ecofriendly products, the two firms announced Tuesday.

“SPINS NaturaLink identifies seven distinct consumer segments based on lifestyle, organic/natural purchasing history, attitudes toward organic/natural products, the importance of physical and emotional category/product needs and demographics,” said Robert Tomei, president of consumer and shopper marketing for IRI. “The segmentation offers an important set of insights for leveraging existing natural/organic buyers and attracting new shoppers to these products.”

Two shopper segments, “True Believers” and “Enlightened Environmentalists,” offer outsized opportunities for manufacturers and retailers. Each group represents 9% of the U.S. population, but together account for 46% of all natural/organic product sales.

True Believers are passionate about staying fit and healthy. They are focused on trying new things, serving as strong role models for their children and are strong believers in the benefits of natural/organic products. True Believers enjoy a median income of $65,000, have an average age of 40 years, attended college and, in some cases, embarked on post-graduate studies.

The Enlightened Environmentalists segment is passionate about the environment and making good choices to support it. These shoppers are making a real effort to make healthier choices and will go out of their way to shop at stores that carry natural/organic products. Enlightened Environmentalists are older than True Believers, averaging 63 years old, attended graduate school and have a median income of $57,000.

“These two groups are ‘power shoppers’ when it comes to natural/organic products,” noted Tony Olson, CEO of SPINS. “Manufacturers and retailers have a significant opportunity to better understand and tap into their needs, wants and motivations—not only to drive sales volume, but also to continue to deliver the innovative products that shape our industry. At the same time, it is important to motivate shoppers in other segments to expand their knowledge of natural/organic products to stimulate buying behavior and ensure long-term growth.”

The following five segments comprise the remaining 54% of sales: 

  • Strapped Seekers — This group likes to try new things and live a healthy lifestyle, but knows they should make healthier choices than they do. With a median income of $45,000 and median age of 45 years, these shoppers represent all levels of education;
  • Healthy Realists — Being healthy and fit and making exercise a priority is important to these shoppers. They are often the first among their friends to try something new, but can have difficulty deciding whether to buy healthy or traditional products. Their average age is 39; they have attended college and earn a median income of $65,000;
  • Indifferent Traditionalists — Leading a simple life with few passions, they may try healthy products but do not consider themselves on the leading edge of change. With a median income of $46,000 that skews under $25,000, these shoppers are age 65 years on average and have a high school education;
  • Struggling Switchers — These shoppers are focused on staying within their budgets, have suffered during the last recession, but know they should be eating healthier and getting more exercise. With a median income of $56,000, they are aged 39 on average and attended all levels of school; and
  • Resistant Non-believers — With very little desire to explore other options for things to buy, Resistant Non-believers stay loyal to the products they know. They have completed high school; have an average age of 52 and a median income of $48,000.

IRI and SPINS completed the SPINS NaturaLink segmentation in October 2013. The two organizations surveyed respondents, primarily from IRI’s National Consumer Panel, which represents the total U.S. population, not just consumers who are already using natural/organic products. The survey topics covered a broad range of attitudinal, behavioral and demographic information. IRI supplemented the segmentation by integrating shopper behavior information.

 

 

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Reckitt Benckiser poised to drive growth within VMS space

BY Michael Johnsen

SLOUGH, England — Reckitt Benckiser has realized a greater value out of its 1-year-old acquisition of Schiff, which moved the consumer product goods conglomerate into the dietary supplement arena, and expects to push that VMS business to greater heights in the coming year, Rakesh Kapoor, Reckitt Benckiser CEO and executive director told analysts during a conference call Tuesday. 

"We’ve been owners of this business for less than a year," he said. "And during that period of time, what we have done is get the basics on this business executed well, improving our distribution, improving the shelving … streamlining the core piece."  

Reckitt Benckiser also has increased the historical media investment behind the brands in the Schiff portfolio, Kapoor suggested. Before the acquisition, Schiff typically bought 15-second spots. Reckitt Benckiser has been investing in longer commercials that will be better able to convey the value quotient associated with each brand. "What we had is a much more comprehensive explanation of what, for example, MegaRed does for you. And we’ve also performed very clever digital and other 360 marketing programs, like working in close collaboration with Dr. Oz and talking about VMS in a much more holistic way," Kapoor said. 

"We have not fully run the course of improving the execution mechanics on the VMS franchise," he added."We also have taken stock of what the VMS opportunity looks like for us, how we can actually create value here for ourselves and for our business and for our shareholders. … VMS is a good story."

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Study: Vitamin D deficiency may increase a child’s risk of anemia

BY Michael Johnsen

BALTIMORE — Low levels of vitamin D appear to increase a child’s risk of anemia, according to new research led by investigators at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The study, published online Oct. 10 in the Journal of Pediatrics, is believed to be the first one to extensively explore the link between the two conditions in children.

The researchers caution that their results are not proof of cause and effect, but rather evidence of a complex interplay between low vitamin D levels and hemoglobin, the oxygen-binding protein in red blood cells. The investigators say several mechanisms could account for the link between vitamin D and anemia, including vitamin D’s effects on red blood cell production in the bone marrow, as well as its ability to regulate immune inflammation, a known catalyst of anemia.

To capture the interaction between the two conditions, researchers studied blood samples from more than 10,400 children, tracking levels of vitamin D and hemoglobin. Vitamin D levels were consistently lower in children with low hemoglobin levels compared with their non-anemic counterparts, the researchers found. The sharpest spike in anemia risk occurred with mild vitamin D deficiency, defined as vitamin D levels less than 30 ng/mL. Children with levels below 30 ng/mL had nearly twice the anemia risk of those with normal vitamin D levels. Severe vitamin D deficiency is defined as vitamin D levels at or less than 20 ng/mL. 

Both mild and severe deficiency requires treatment with supplements.

When investigators looked at anemia and vitamin D by race, black children had higher rates of anemia compared with white children (14% vs. 2%) and considerably lower vitamin D levels overall, but their anemia risk didn’t rise until their vitamin D levels dropped far lower than those of white children. The racial difference in vitamin D levels and anemia suggests that current therapeutic targets for preventing or treating these conditions may warrant a further look, the researchers reported.

"The clear racial variance we saw in our study should serve as a reminder that what we may consider a pathologically low level in some may be perfectly adequate in others, which raises some interesting questions about our current one-size-fits-all approach to treatment and supplementation," stated lead investigator Meredith Atkinson, a pediatric kidney specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Untreated, chronic anemia and vitamin D deficiency can have wide-ranging health consequences, including organ damage, skeletal deformities and frequent fractures, and lead to premature osteoporosis in later life.

Long known for its role in bone development, vitamin D has recently been implicated in a wide range of disorders. Emerging evidence suggests that low vitamin D levels may play a role in the development of certain cancers and heart disease and lead to suppressed immunity, the researchers noted.

Anemia, which occurs when the body doesn’t have enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells, is believed to affect 1-in-5 children at some point in their lives. Several large-scale studies have found severe vitamin D deficiency in about a tenth of U.S. children, while nearly 70% have suboptimal levels.

"If our findings are confirmed through further research, low vitamin D levels may turn out to be a readily modifiable risk factor for anemia that we can easily tackle with supplements," said senior study investigator Jeffrey Fadrowski, also a pediatric kidney specialist at Johns Hopkins.

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