Consumers are becoming more focused on their health, sustainability, as well as food ethics. This presents a unique opportunity for food brands to take advantage of the growth of the plant-based industry. The global plant-based meat market size is projected to reach $24.8 billion by 2030. Here are 4 essential aspects of marketing plant-based meat alternatives.
1. Be Bold
Brands must be bold when promoting alternative meat products. A recent McKinsey survey found that 82% of respondents rated plant proteins as healthy, while only 74% said the same for animal protein. Emphasizing the health benefits of plant-based meats like low sodium content, and high amino acids, offer something that traditional meat cannot compete with.
Consumers also care more about neutralizing their environmental impact more than ever and consistently lean towards eco-friendly options. Because of this, brands must not shy away from promoting the sustainability of their products, especially in comparison to traditional meat.
Boldness is essential in the packaging of plant-based meat, especially as the market becomes more saturated. Visual cues and design elements like environmental certifications or a “green” logo make a product stand out from the rest of the products on the shelf. Even taking a sustainable approach to packaging with things like reduced plastic can make an already unique product even more appealing.
2. Focus on Flavor
One of the main reasons consumers shy away from plant-based options is their hesitations about the taste. There is a perception that vegan food can be bland and boring, and this is something that brands must overcome.
By highlighting ways that alternative meats can be presented and sharing recipes for everyday life, the customer experience of eating real meat can be mirrored. Mirroring the experience of eating real meat with classic, descriptive food advertising can help overcome the idea that vegan food falls into a different category than “regular” food.
3. Don’t Ignore the Skeptics
Only 6% of the U.S. population is vegan, so a good strategy is to focus on non-plant-based eaters. Branching out to flexitarian consumers will also expand the currently limited customer base and create a long-lasting habit in the diets of consumers.
A flexitarian can be defined as someone who limits their meat intake when possible, without adhering to a strict vegetarian diet. The goal should be to get people to try something new, in the hopes that they return for more and share eating alternative meat options with their friends and family. By acknowledging their hesitations while communicating all the benefits of plant-based meat, new customers will be more receptive to an alternative meat product.
In Google’s Year in Search report, the search “vegan food near me” was named as a breakthrough search after experiencing a 5,000% increase in 2021. From Burger King , to Starbucks , and everywhere in between, it is becoming the norm to offer plant-based options and something consumers expect from quick service restaurants.
A Gallup poll found that one in four Americans reported eating less meat in the past year than they had previously, indicating that the spike in plant-based options is not coming solely from dedicated vegans and vegetarians, but instead from flexitarians looking to dip their toes in the water of alternative meat.
4. Use Influencers to Tap into Niche Audiences
Strong social media marketing campaigns continue to push the popularity of plant-based meat. For example, Beyond Meat recently introduced their new Chief Taste Consultant, Kim Kardashian. Kim’s fame, along with the fact that she is not fully vegan, creates a perfect face for the brand.
With over 326 million Instagram followers, her influence is undeniable, and her promo videos inspiring others to try the brand’s products keep the brand relevant. Kim Kardashian is not the first of Beyond Meat’s celebrity ambassadors, however. Other partners include Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg, Shaun White, Deandre Hopkins, etc. Including pop culture celebrities along with professional athletes, not only emphasizes the idea that these products are cool to try, but also that they are healthy.
Another successful aspect of Beyond Meat’s social media strategy is their connection with the public. They use the best micro-influencers they know—their customers. This is done through reposting customer content, testimonials, and reviews, that show what real people think of their brand. This strategy also makes their advertising seem not only more personal and down to earth, but also simply more believable.
As the plant-based meat industry continues to grow, and meatless diets become more attractive, brands will continually need to adapt to the changing environment and find new ways to attract hesitant consumers.
The continuous fight to destigmatize alternative meat does not end here, but with a consumer population that is increasingly connected to personal health and environmental issues, the industry has a bright future.
About Victoria Barrell
Victoria Barrell is a rising senior at Rutgers University majoring in Marketing and minoring in Political Science with a concentration in Global Business. Throughout her internship at SGK, Victoria has focused on content strategy and analytics, social media, email marketing, and writing. Victoria is a certified Prosci change management practitioner with a passion for identifying opportunities to drive businesses forward.