A major challenge that organic and sustainable brands face is how to break through the green glass ceiling. How can such brands break out of their niche status and gain a mainstream following? How can they maintain their core green values, whilst appealing to wider consumer groups? Organic Monitor gives some insights into this growth conundrum.

A small group of consumers comprise most sustainable product sales, creating a glass ceiling to business growth. For instance, organic food sales have been increasing at double-digit rates in the USA however they comprise just 4% of total food sales. In Europe, natural & organic personal care product sales have shown similar growth rates, yet they have just 3% market share. Fair trade products, ethical textiles and other sustainable products have similar low market shares because of this concentration of demand.

Marketing appears to be the solution. As will be shown in Organic Monitor’s upcoming sustainability summits, brands that can successfully position themselves to attract broad consumer groups are breaking through the glass ceiling.

In the US, Aveda has been highly successful with its professional range of natural personal care products. Launched in 1978 by Horst Rechelbacher when few consumers were aware of natural & organic products, Aveda products were marketed on their plant ingredients and performance.

Aveda leads in many areas of sustainability: it is the largest user of recycled plastic in the beauty industry and is one of the main buyers of organic essential oils in the world. Today, Aveda is the second leading hair salon brand in the US, with sales spread to almost every continent.

The challenges faced by organic and sustainable brands will be featured in the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (May 16-18, New York) and Sustainable Foods Summit (6-7 June, Amsterdam).

Marketing and consumer behaviour are a key focus, with case studies given of brands that have successfully overcome the green glass ceiling; papers will be given by Horst Rechelbacher (Aveda founder), Alpro, Weleda, Whole Foods Market, Coop Switzerland, Bio+, and others