Build consumer trust with a .ORGANIC domain
March 26, 2015 11:34 am
The market for organic products is confusing to many consumers, both online and offline. Many consumers believe that non-organic companies and products pretend to be organic in order to charge higher prices. Adding to the confusion is the use of terms like ‘natural’, ‘healthy’, or ‘green’, which might imply that a product is organic, even if it isn’t.
In order to be certified as organic in the United States, producers must follow a set of regulations set out by the USDA. These regulations stipulate, amongst other things, that organic crops must be grown without ‘irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms’; while for organic livestock, ‘The USDA organic seal verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.’ Regulations in other jurisdictions are similar.
Despite this, companies have been known to describe themselves or their products as ‘organic’, despite not meeting the standards laid down by the USDA. As a consequence, consumers can be confused or exploited by these companies, and end up paying a higher price for non-organic products.
In a survey of more than 3,000 consumers carried out by YouGov on behalf of Afilias, 43% of those surveyed said that when shopping online, they can’t easily differentiate who is truly organic and who is not. A large majority of consumers – almost 70% – are convinced that some companies are taking advantage of their confusion and pretending to be organic in order to charge a premium price. What consumers want is simple: 69% think companies should stop associating themselves with the term ‘organic’ if they do not follow organic production methods or use organic ingredients.
In the traditional internet world where web addresses end with .COM, CO.UK, .NET, etc., any company can get a web address with “organic” in their name and claim they are organic, as there is no verification process (for example, www.OrganicCompanyABC.com).
In September 2014, in order to address this verification and trust problem, a new web domain – .ORGANIC – was made available exclusively to companies and organizations that are certified organic or otherwise meet stringent eligibility requirements. Every applicant for a .ORGANIC name is verified before being allowed to use the name. For example, products that bear the European Union Organic Seal in the UK or the USDA ORGANIC seal in the US are certified and qualify for the .ORGANIC address.
Consumers surveyed in the above research were asked: “Please imagine you are searching online for organic food products. Two websites show up in the search results: www.CompanyABC.organic and www.CompanyXYZ.com. Which web address do you think you would be MORE inclined to visit for organic products?”
60% of them responded that they would be more likely to click on the .ORGANIC domain, with only 7% saying they would be more likely to click on the .COM domain. (Just over 30% responded with ‘Don’t know.’)
Clearly, there has been a trust issue for consumers over the years when it comes to shopping for organic products. With the launch of the .ORGANIC domain, the hope is that these trust issues will be addressed, and consumers can shop with the confidence that what they’re buying truly is ‘organic’.
If your company or business is certified organic, you can register a .ORGANIC domain name by filling in the search box below!
Main image: ccharmon