Even if you don’t work with the food industry, it’s been impossible not to notice the meteoric rise of plant-based products. Formerly seen as a niche item catering to the vegetarian set, “faux meat” is now found in a whopping 95% of grocery stores. And the stats just get more and more impressive! Close to 50% of all consumers — herbivore and omnivore alike — are buying plant-based meats. Industry leader Beyond Meat’s stock rose 520% within one month of them going public. Projections show that worldwide, sales of meat substitutes are on pace to grow 22% by 2023, meaning that in only four short years it will be a $23 billion dollar market.
Plant-based proteins are not a fad or a trend — they’re becoming an essential part of daily life, creating a market where there’s plenty of room to innovate and grow. Even restaurants like Glory Day’s Grill are investing into new plant-based foods as a way to expand their menu options and revenue growth opportunities. Let’s take a look at why this is the “meat” of the future, and how companies like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat are using their knowledge of today’s consumer to completely reinvent the CPG industry.
Today’s consumer is an educated consumer. They want to know where their food is from, how it’s made, and how it affects not only them but the world at large. Over 60% of millennials and Gen Zers say that a products environmental impact can influence their purchasing decisions, and they’ll gladly spend more for eco-friendly options.
“Over half of consumers say that they like to know the stories behind the products they buy.”
Consumers don’t need to be vegan or vegetarian to know that eating less meat is not only good for them, but also for the planet. When compared to factory farm-raised beef, burgers produced by Beyond Meat use 46% less energy, 92% less land, and 99% less water. Most impressive of all, produce 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Over half of consumers say that they like to know the stories behind the products they buy. Larger brands can attribute much of their meteoric rise to storytelling which — outside of high-profile press pieces — have been told through highly dynamic websites and social media accounts. Conversely, store-branded meat packaging is void of any brand or story - a sharp contrast when positioned next to the purpose-driven, plant-based packaging design that caters to the mindfulness of modern consumers.
An incredible amount of attention has been given to every element: vivid, mouth-watering photography; engrossing, informative copy; active and engaging social platforms; interactive websites that allow consumers to do so much more than find their nearest retailer.
These companies are not only selling their product: they’re selling the environmentally friendly, meat-free lifestyle as a whole.
The notion of a plant-based protein that mimics meat in taste, texture and appearance seems nothing short of sorcery. So how is the highly processed faux meat industry attracting so many Millennial and Gen Z consumers, the same consumers that have prioritized simple, natural ingredient lists? By understanding that they need to pull back the curtain, explain their processes and, quite literally, show how the sausage gets made.
“…top-notch packaging can make smaller niche brands and mid-sized companies stand out as loudly as the larger, publicly traded competition.”
As you can imagine, video has been an essential part of this strategy. When you know what questions a customer is going to ask you need to have an answer prepared, and when trying to explain the complicated science behind plant-derived “meat,” it’s easier to show than tell.
While these mini documentaries succeed in educating the masses, the very fact that they exist in the first place creates enormous value to these brands. By bringing consumers into the product development process, they’re creating an even greater divide between them and the factory-farm meat industry, which has been notoriously camera-shy when it comes to their operations.
Promoting these well-produced videos on social media and other marketing channels is showing that there’s no mystery to solve, nothing questionable to hide, and, most importantly, that they appreciate and trust the educated consumer. These efforts are not only creating new customers — they’re creating brand evangelists.
No matter what fad or trend is sweeping the nation, healthy food options will always be in high demand. Doctors and nutritionists have long advocated for diets that are not only light on the ever-popular red meat, but light on or free of all meat.
In today’s consumer climate, more consumers are identifying as vegan or vegetarian than ever before, but it’s still a small fraction of those who eat an omnivorous diet. High profile brand partnerships, such as the one between Impossible Burger and Burger King creating a meatless Whopper (the “Impossible Whopper”), give a very obvious explanation as to why plant-based meat is a phenomenon that is likely here to stay: it allows people to eat healthier without sacrificing the foods that they love. One in three Americans now identifies as a “flexitarian”, and are just as likely to order meatless options as the vegetarian set.
When it comes to healthy foods, what can’t plants deliver? Customers love buzzwords that remind them what they’re eating is good for them, and plant-based proteins check off so many boxes that it’s hard to select what to plaster on the package.
Are you one of the 20% of consumers who are looking for foods that are a great source of heart healthy fiber? The one out of every three people following a high-protein diet? A customer that’s seeking out low fat / low cholesterol / low everything bad-for-you that doesn’t want to sacrifice taste or enjoyment? Plant-based proteins check off just about every box on the buzzword list.
“By following the marketing playbook of their plant-based competition, meat companies have the chance to reconnect with their customers”
With customers already flocking to the meat-free section of the supermarket, top-notch packaging can make smaller niche brands and mid-sized companies stand out as loudly as the larger, publicly traded competition. It could also make a significant difference for real meat, which traditionally hasn’t told a story to consumers. The majority of people still eat an omnivorous diet, and meat can be a healthy part of it. By following the marketing playbook of their plant-based competition, meat companies have the chance to reconnect with their customers personally and directly, and can remind them of their products many nutritional benefits.
With more health and wellness brands competing for the same pool of consumers, attractive package design and brand awareness strategies can make a significant difference in these consumers’ buying decisions. If your brand could use a boost, reach out to us at the Harvey Agency today.