How Can UK Plant-Based Food Companies Market Effectively to Non-Vegans?

April 15, 2024

Plant-based foods are experiencing a surge in popularity across the globe. In the UK, the trend of consuming less meat and more plant-based foods has been steadily growing, with a significant number of consumers identifying as ‘flexitarians’. These are consumers who still eat meat but are actively trying to reduce their meat consumption for health, environmental and ethical reasons.

In this article, we explore the strategies plant-based food companies in the UK can employ to effectively market their products to non-vegans – from understanding consumer behaviour to harnessing the power of media.

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Understanding the Target Market

The first step to marketing any product is understanding your target market. For plant-based food companies, this involves understanding the motivations behind the dietary choices of non-vegans, including flexitarians and those interested in reducing their meat intake.

Research consistently shows that health is a leading driver for many people seeking plant-based alternatives. This is often coupled with concerns about the environmental impact and animal welfare issues associated with traditional animal-based food industries.

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Looking into these insights, plant-based brands can tailor their marketing strategies to address these concerns. For instance, they can highlight the health benefits and environmental virtues of their products, or the cruelty-free nature of their production processes, to appeal to health-conscious, eco-aware and empathetic consumers.

Developing Appealing Products

Once a thorough understanding of the target market has been established, the next step is product development. The aim here should be to create products that meet the taste expectations of non-vegans.

While some consumers are seeking completely new, plant-based flavours, many still crave the taste and texture of the meat products they are used to. Therefore, plant-based food companies should focus on developing products that mimic the taste, texture and appearance of traditional meat products.

Creating appealing products is not just about taste; it’s also about presentation. Packaging plays a crucial role in enticing consumers. Plant-based food companies can leverage this by adopting packaging that communicates the freshness, quality and benefits of their products.

Effective Branding and Messaging

Branding and messaging are critical in differentiating your products in a saturated market. An effective brand tells a story, creates an emotional connection with consumers and instils trust.

Plant-based food companies must ensure their branding and messaging reflect their mission and values, and that they resonate with their target audience’s motivations. For example, they could emphasise their commitment to sustainability, health and animal welfare.

Moreover, the messaging should also communicate the taste and convenience of their products. Many consumers are put off by the perceived inconvenience of plant-based foods – a misconception that can be corrected through effective messaging.

Leveraging Social Media and Influencers

The rise of social media has revolutionised the way brands engage with consumers. For plant-based food companies, social media platforms provide an invaluable opportunity to reach out to potential consumers, engage with them and build loyalty.

They can use these platforms to share engaging content – from delicious recipes and behind-the-scenes glimpses of product development, to testimonials from satisfied customers.

Furthermore, partnering with influencers can help plant-based brands reach wider audiences. Influencers can help humanise a brand, make it more relatable and trustworthy, and drive consumers to try new products.

Educating Consumers

Lastly, educating consumers about the benefits of plant-based foods is crucial. Many people are still unaware of the health and environmental benefits of plant-based diets.

Plant-based food companies can run informative campaigns that debunk myths around plant-based diets and highlight the multiple benefits of their products. They could also provide easy-to-follow recipes and tips on incorporating plant-based foods into everyday meals.

While there’s no denying that shifting consumer behaviours is a challenge, with the right marketing strategies, plant-based food companies can successfully reach out to, and convert, non-vegans.

Utilising Digital Marketing and SEO

To further reinforce their market presence, plant-based food companies can leverage the capabilities of digital marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This technology enables brands to enhance their online visibility, reach more potential customers and improve their website’s ranking on search engine result pages.

Studies have shown that an increasing number of consumers are utilising online platforms to search for and purchase food and drink products, making it vital for plant-based brands to have a robust online presence. SEO involves the strategic use of keywords related to the brand’s offerings such as ‘vegan food’, ‘plant based alternatives’, ‘based meat’, ‘meat free’, and others. By strategically placing these keywords in their website content, plant-based companies can improve their visibility in search engine results.

Digital marketing strategies such as pay-per-click advertising, content marketing and email marketing can also help plant-based brands expand their reach and engage more effectively with their audience. Pay-per-click advertising allows brands to place adverts on other websites, which can increase traffic to their own site. Content marketing, on the other hand, involves creating and sharing valuable content to attract and engage a target audience. This could be in the form of blogs, articles, videos, infographics, and more.

Email marketing remains one of the most effective digital marketing strategies. Through personalised emails, plant-based brands can communicate new product launches, promotions, and provide valuable content such as vegan recipes or diet tips.

Relying on Certifications and Partnerships

Another strategy plant-based food companies in the UK can use to market their products to non-vegans is to rely on certifications and partnerships. This can provide a sense of legitimacy and trustworthiness for consumers who are unfamiliar with or sceptical about plant-based products.

Companies may consider obtaining certifications from reputable organisations such as the Vegan Society, which grants the Vegan Trademark to products that meet their strict criteria. Displaying such a certification on their products can allay any doubts consumers may have about whether the products are genuinely plant-based and free of animal products.

Building partnerships with other brands or establishments that hold similar values can also contribute to a brand’s positive image. For instance, a plant-based food company could partner with a popular gym chain to provide healthy snacks for their members. Such a partnership not only exposes the brand to a larger audience but also associates it with health and wellness.

Conclusion

The shift towards plant-based diets is a trend that’s here to stay. As such, it is critical for plant-based food companies to develop effective marketing strategies to attract and convert non-vegan consumers. From understanding the target market to product development, branding, leveraging social media, educating consumers, utilising digital marketing and certifications, these strategies can help plant-based brands make a significant impact in the UK market.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, a combination of these strategies, tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the target audience, can go a long way in promoting the adoption of plant-based foods. As the plant-based food industry continues to grow, companies who can effectively communicate their values and benefits of their products will be the ones to prosper.