Plant-based products are driving some of the biggest business decisions in 2021. Here’s how to make sure you’re sowing the right marketing seeds?
Tapping into the right market at the right time has always been the holy grail for marketers, but with the notoriously fickle Gen Z and Millenials segments, it’s a moving, slippery target. However, there’s one massive trend that’s not affected by borders or changing sentiment, and that’s the growth in vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian consumers. No longer is this just a small corner of supermarkets and niche health shops frequented by hippies and New Age types on Meat-free Mondays; it has become a mainstream movement with younger generations who have a greater focus on social change and eco-conscious living.
We called this trend a gamechanger even before the pandemic (thanks for the scoop, Snoop), but the global crisis has ramped up the growth in meat- and dairy-free products. It has caused people to re-evaluate their diets, as it has emphasized the link between food, health, and our bodies immune responses. These effects have been seen far and wide in the food industry, from the rise of Tofurkys over the last Christmas to the rise in plant-based nutrition products for toddlers. According to the latest research, the plant-based food market will be worth a whopping $74.2 billion by 2027.
There are several heavyweight commercial examples of corporates making plant-based moves: Nestlé is launching its first vegan Kit-Kat later this year (called KitKat V), and that’s following previous product launches of plant-based alternatives to dairy made from oat, soy, rice, coconut, pea and almonds. This includes non-dairy cheeses, drinks, coffees, creamers and milks – just like their recent launch of plant-based lattes in Japan.
The second major example: PepsiCo has partnered with Beyond Meat to help drive their plant-based foods and snacks to a larger, more global market. Not only does this mean a bigger footprint, but it also means that new products will be created and sold worldwide. These are just two examples of many, but what does this mean for marketers in 2021? It starts with being more mindful of a new market that’s meat and dairy-free, and who is more conscious of what and how they eat, along with a bigger emphasis on their personal health.
This affects everything from products launches and lifestyle research, but here are three main guidelines which can help steer future strategies:
1. Consumer health has become one of the biggest drivers.
While buying motivation is still undoubtedly influenced by being eco-conscious and kinder to animals, there’s research now to show that buyers are more motivated by personal health – especially after the role of the pandemic and the emphasis on our immune system as a defence. As a result, marketers and brands are starting to appeal to this motivation rather than just being green and animal-friendly.
2. Plant-based products need to be sustainably sourced and ethically produced.
There are products that are plant-based but which use ingredients that have been sourced in a damaging way to the environment – for example, ones that use palm oil. Companies and brands have to be incredibly careful about where they’re sourcing their ingredients and how they are being farmed or harvested. For example, Nestlé is careful to source fully sustainable cocoa as part of its Nestlé Cocoa Plan through a partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.
3. Collaborations are key.
Just like the example of PepsiCo and Beyond Meat, you don’t necessarily need to start crafting your own meat- and dairy-free products – you can partner with a brand that has an existing range and vegan street cred. Nestlé sells plant-based meat through Sweet Earth, a vegetarian food company it acquired in 2017, and Kellogg sells plant-based meat through its Incogmeato brand.
Bottom line: there’s no doubt that plant-based products have taken root commercially and that marketing strategies need to reflect that. The good news: we can help you create your next plant-powered event, launch your plant-based product, or take your next idea from seed to success. Drop us a line here, and we’ll discuss this over a dairy-free coffee.