There’s arguably never been a better time to worry about healthy food. The pandemic has pushed shoppers to seek out new choices and that has led to a spike in organic food and beauty products. And, as for most everything these days, there’s an app for that.
But before delving into the app side of the picture, some background. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic produce sales jumped by more than 50 percent in the early days of the pandemic and then settled into a 20 percent increase as consumer shopping patterns settled. That meant organic milk was in high demand, for example, and sales of organic eggs skyrocketed. Packaged and frozen organic foods saw double-digit growth as consumers prepared to cook at home. In the non-food organic market, vitamins and immunity-related products have seen strong growth, as have organic supplements and household products.
“It’s hard to know what’s ahead of us, but consumers will continue to trust in and depend on the Organic label,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “Organic producers and processors — indeed the entire organic supply chain — have been working around the clock through this difficult time to keep our stores filled with healthy, toxic-free and sustainably produced organic food and products. Organic is going to be there for the consumer.”
Being there for the organic consumer is one of the goals of Merryfield, a company and brand that bills itself as a clean label rewards app. It is a combination of loyalty program and product discovery platform that has gained traction since its launch in July of this year. The company has a strict vetting program that sorts products by their “clean” ingredients and purpose-driven nature. Those standards disqualify brands that contain artificial colorings, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. When users buy products from the app’s participating member brands like Applegate, Califia Farms, EO|Everyone or Stonyfield Organic, they take a picture of their receipt via the app and automatically earn points to be redeemed for gift cards from brands like Adidas or Amazon, Sephora or Starbucks.
CEO David Mayer told PYMNTS that Merryfield also serves as a discovery platform for brands that want to find organic consumers and for consumers looking for organic products. Those consumers, he said, are discovering and being rewarded for entire new categories of “better-for-you” products.
“We’re trying to take a more holistic view of how we drive recurring purchases and greater value by leveraging this idea of everyday rewards in a way that most brands today can’t do,” Mayer said. “But I think increasingly it is going to be a very important thing for CPG brands to look to role models from other brands and other retailers. Every retailer at this point has an app, and a rewards program. But a lot of times for CPG brands that want to have this one-to-one relationship with consumers that’s very hard to do if you don’t control the point of purchase. So we’re both trying to affect that and maybe have … more direct connections with people, better insights and build more lasting relationships.”
Merryfield is also tying its brands into a marketplace of sorts, where all the grocery products are vetted by its standards team. On the consumer loyalty side, he said the rewards match the intent of the shopper. For example, he describes a mother who has researched organic products and worked hard to integrate them into the family’s routine. The best reward for that shopper is access and discounts to more products. Hence the discounts available via the app and the gift cards that tie in other brands and retailers.
“It’s giving consumers more reason, and more motivation to self-identify each and every time they shop,” Mayer said. “That provides us with better information about their shopping patterns which allows us to serve them better. And ultimately, if we serve them better we grow a portfolio value for our brands. We have been able to demonstrate this on a smaller scale and over time we want to create a platform model. It’s all about network effect, and if we can get all of our brands rowing in the same direction, that’s going to be a benefit to consumers. The more consumers we get, the more brands we get. You get that flywheel effect going and that will help us grow in 2021.”