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Whole Foods and Wal-Mart Merging (customers)


Relax. There are no plans for a "Whole-Mart" superstore, where customers snap up made-in-China fashions and grown-in-China organic goji berries in the same, mile-long aisle. But more and more, there is something you can find in both stores' aisles: organics shoppers.

Wal-Mart Supercenter is the top grocery store for organics users, according to a recent analysis by Scarborough Research. Twenty-nine percent of organics consumers shopped Wal-Mart Supercenter during the past week. However, organics consumers seem far more passionate about shopping at Whole Foods. The store has the nation's highest concentration of organics consumers in its aisles. According to the study conducted from August 2006 through March 2007, organics consumers are 272 percent more likely than the average consumer to have shopped Whole Foods during the past week. They are 21 percent less likely than average consumers to have shopped in Wal-Mart Supercenter during this timeframe.

Other stores with higher-than-average concentrations of organics consumers include Trader Joe's (organics consumers are 180 percent more likely than the average consumer to have shopped Trader Joe's during the past week); Safeway (72 percent more likely); Costco (70 percent more likely); and SuperTarget (50 percent more likely).

"An organics user's local grocery store availability will dictate where they shop," said Alisa Joseph, Vice President, Advertiser Agency Services, Scarborough Research. "Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have established themselves in the organics market, and are more popular among organics users. However, a high percentage of organics users shop prominent U.S. stores such as Wal-Mart due to its significant local market penetration."

The study also found that organics consumers are young, affluent, big spenders on groceries and often live in the West. More than half of the 23 markets identified as having above-average percentage of organics customers are in the West, with San Francisco, Seattle and Portland as the top three markets. Washington, D.C., tied with Denver for fourth, with San Diego in fifth.

A recent Harris Interactive poll echoed some of Scarborough's findings. The online poll of 2,392 adults found that those more likely to regularly buy organics are college graduates (11 percent), liberals (11 percent), Westerners (10 percent), echo boomers (between 18-30 years old; 10 percent) and Gen Xers (between 31-42; 9 percent).

The poll found that organic food shoppers mostly see the category as safer, better for the environment and healthier, but more expensive. The overwhelming majority found organic products to be worth the additional cost.

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