As veganism becomes more of an appealing and accessible option for many, marketers may be tempted to stock plant-based alternatives to appease new consumers. Paradise’s creative account manager Amber van de Sande suggests some considerations brands should make ahead of vegan marketing.
While many people commit to a plant-based diet in January (‘Veganuary’), the rise of varied and easily-accessible plant-based dishes is encouraging many to keep up this practice throughout the year. 1.16% of Brits consider themselves to be vegan. This number is set to grow as more people try out plant-based cuisines.
In 2020 there was a surge in emerging vegan brands, with consumers becoming more aware of their health. Even fast-food chains like McDonald’s took note and introduced plant-based alternatives, from vegan pizza and pastries to loaded fries and vegan burgers.
Analysts predict that the market will grow by 11.9% by 2027. Here are some suggestions for marketers keen to explore and embrace this space.
Consider why consumers are making the switch to veganism
Younger generations are increasingly concerned with the state of the planet and how it affects animal welfare. Every year, around 72bn animals are slaughtered worldwide and animal agriculture contributes to 91% of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
While there’s much to be said about whether or not turning fully vegan relieves these issues entirely, the negative impact of mass-produced meat on the planet is undeniable. This has led many to reconsider their diets, reducing the amount of meat they consume or deciding to go vegan or vegetarian. The number of Google searches for ‘vegan’ rose by 700% in the last four years alone.
Karin Lowik, marketing manager from plant-based meat brand Vivera, says: “We’ve identified three types of vegan consumers – those motivated by the climate aspect; those led by wellbeing and health with vegetarian products made up of less saturated fats; and those concerned about animal welfare. They all require different targeting options.”
Plant-based diets are typically considered more sustainable than meat-heavy ones as less methane is produced. If consumers are switching to veganism for environmental reasons, brands must strive to create items that are as sustainable and ethical as possible, with oversight to the production and packaging processes.
Transparency across social media
Digital platforms are filled with innovative vegan brands sharing pictures of their teams behind the scenes, recipe ideas and inspiration around the health benefits of switching diets.
In an era of transparency, ethics and sustainability, plant-based brands need to follow suit and be honest about what their dishes contain.
Supplements brand Dr Vegan has launched its #CheckTheLabel campaign to encourage customers to double-check ingredients through QR code scans so that people can see exactly what’s in the product and how it’s made, especially if it is vegan-friendly or claiming to be clean. The aim is to create a more informed consumer culture.
Alexandra Wallin, head of brand marketing at Dr Vegan, says: “Our campaign #CheckTheLabel aims to empower our audience and educate them on what ingredients to look out for and which ones are actually clean. Most people purchase vitamins and supplements from the high street or supermarket without much research or knowledge about what to look for on the label. People tend to buy based on price and are oblivious to potentially harmful ingredients. Even if a product is vegan, unfortunately it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.”
Be aware and inclusive of prospective consumers
The switch to veganism isn’t for everyone. Some consumers prefer to follow a flexitarian diet, whereby they try to be more aware of their personal dietary footprint and only occasionally eat animal products, rather than cut them out entirely. According to New Food Magazine, 60% of people now consider themselves flexitarian.
Finding creative ways to entice new consumers to veganism is essential, especially for newly-launched brands that don’t want to eliminate prospective customers. Fan Yang, founder of mushroom and okra snack brand Other Foods, says: “We’ve managed to convert people who absolutely hate mushrooms by selling them packaged as crisps. We offer a healthy alternative snack that’s full of fiber and good for the gut. We don’t use veggie powder or modified starch and we find that just selling it as a healthier option really appeals.”
Plant-based brands compete with fast food or snacking options that are convenient and cheap, so they need to work hard to keep up with these mass-produced products. Vegan marketing is still in its nascency with loyal, very trusting community bases, but these need to be maintained.
Non-dairy confectionery brand Doisy & Dam knows this and the importance of being available to its audience, so its website directly links consumers to its founders.
Its marketing manager Liv Sinclair concludes: “Nothing is more annoying than a faceless company, an automated reply or bad customer service when you just want to speak to a human. We want to practice what we preach and be available to our consumers regarding their questions about our products. Working as a vegan-friendly brand, it’s important to cultivate a positive community.”