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More consumers choose to go organic
By Bruce Horovitz,
The terrorists certainly didn't expect this. But among cosmic fallout from their terrible deeds is a spurt of interest in all things organic.
Result: Make way for a new breed of organic marketer. Organic isn't just about healthier food anymore. It's about a lifestyle change that is increasingly striking a chord with consumers who suddenly feel disconnected — if not fearful — in an unpredictable world.
One small step toward solace: Organic Style, a magazine that hit newsstands in August just weeks before the terrorist attacks. The magazine's circulation base has jumped to 500,000 from the 400,000 it started with. And it's managed to attract some very familiar — but not necessarily organic — advertisers, including Buick, Home Depot and Sony PlayStation.
Organic is hot. There're the Organic Pages, an online directory of all things organic. Organic products are becoming as common as, well, chemical additives. Everyone's heard of organic baby food, but what do you make of organic baby toys? Or organic animal food? Organic airline food? And, yes, even organic golf tees — made from corn.
Little wonder that sales of organic products are expected to top $9.3 billion this year — about 25% more than last year, reports the industry trade group Organic Trade Association. By 2005, the trade group expects annual sales to reach $20 billion.
It's no wonder. Upward of four in 10 shoppers purchase some kind of organic food when they shop, according to a recent consumer survey by Rodale Press.
What's driving this national organic craze? Among other things: sophisticated marketing.
An ad for Horizon Organic Milk is arguably as consumer savvy as any Pepsi ad — featuring a freckle-faced boy smiling above this headline: You are what you drink.
At the same time, makers of organic products are cashing in on a growing national desire to turn away from fears of the unknown — such as terrorism — to return to a seemingly simpler life.
By traditional definition, organic means products produced with no chemical pesticides or fertilizers, no irradiation, no genetic engineering, no hormones, no antibiotics.
But editors at Organic Style prefer to redefine organic as "whatever is authentic to your nature as a general way of life."
In confusing times, "people want to live meaningful lives, even on a small scale," says Maria Rodale, editor of Organic Style. Her grandfather, J.I. Rodale, founded Rodale Press with Organic Farming and Gardening (now OG) magazine in 1942. Many Whole Foods grocery stores sold out of the first issue of Organic Style.
While the magazine's beginnings had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks, its message has proved relevant to some readers. It's no accident that the most recent issue has an article called "Little Cabins in the Woods." And another with tips on praying, dubbed "Say a Little Prayer." The article, written before the attacks, was rewritten to include a Muslim prayer, Rodale says.
Here are some new ways the organic world is reaching out to the masses:
But is Fido ready for Liver & Vegetable & Wheat Germ Chunky Dinner?