I am a fairly recent convert to vegan foods. To many, veganism or plant based eating may come across as a fad. While some may indeed be following it out of FOMO (Celebrities are converting, let me try it too); majority adopt it for one of 3 reasons: 


  1. They want to save the planet


“A study published in New Scientist magazine shows that each person can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that his or her diet contributes to climate change by up to 60 per cent—just by going vegan.” – Downtoearth.org.in


2. They want to save animals


Did you know that every vegan saves nearly 200 animals per year? There is simply no easier way to help animals and prevent suffering than by choosing plant-based foods over meat, eggs, and dairy “products.”Peta 


3. They want to improve their health


improve health-vegan foods-www.ifiweremarketing.com

Source : Krupa Shah Cordeiro, Understanding Whole Foods Plant Based


Whatever the reason, vegan foods are enjoying a never before seen time in the limelight. 


vegan foods market-www.ifiweremarketing.com


“In 2019, the share price of Beyond Meat, a company that produces a plant-based meat substitute, rose 718% in just three months after its IPO (return calculated from the issue price).

The vegan trend can no longer be questioned. The dominant meat companies – Tyson, Smithfield, and Hormel Foods – have begun investing in plant-based meat substitutes.

Interestingly, one of the people who invested in Beyond Meat was Bill Gates. As of June of this year, Beyond Meat’s shares were up 49 percent.

Hoping to replicate success and find a “second Beyond Meat,” entrepreneurs invested 457 million dollars throughout 2019. In just the first seven months of 2020, more than $1.4 billion was invested.”

-Explainvisually.co, March 2021


But everything is not smooth sailing for brands present in the plant based food space. 


Food preferences are deeply rooted in our upbringing, traditions and culture, our belief systems, our taste obsession. This makes them extremely personal. Hence, people often get aggressive or defensive when their food beliefs are challenged or if someone tries to preach to or modify those. 


Target Group For Vegan Foods


So, to promote itself, any food brand present in this space needs to first bifurcate and understand who it is speaking with. Now, all the investments and projections we read about earlier have a basis in real demand from real people, right?

It is one thing to have demand for vegan foods from people who are already convinced of its value, but another to entice those people who either have not heard of it, are indifferent or who don’t believe in its proposition, yet. 

So, I like to split the TG for vegan foods thus:


  1. Plant based eaters i.e. people who are dedicated vegans, eating only vegan/ whole food plant based food. They may comprise of less than 1% of the population in India, currently. So we need to look at the other two groups, if we want to see better traction. 
  2. Flexitarians i.e. people who understand and appreciate the plant based eating philosophy and try to follow it as much as they canThey are largely but not exclusively plant based eaters. They may wish to convert to it 100% but are unable to do so.
  3. Everyone else i.e. people who are either unaware of veganism and its benefits, those indifferent to plant based eating and those who don’t agree with those benefits. 


On the other side of the vegan foods equation we have vegan foods brands. Lets take a closer look at what comprises ‘vegan foods’ for the purpose of this article, shall we?


Like above, I have split the big space of vegan foods into the following sub categories:

  1. Packaged, ready to eat or ready to cook vegan foods (e.g. dairy alternatives for milks/ chocolates/butters; or mock meats or tofu or vegan packaged snacks, etc)
  2. Restaurants with largely vegan and plant based menus


Before we proceed with the ideas here, you may want to listen to the discussion on marketing vegan foods that I had on Mentza here. 


mentza vegan foods-www.ifiweremarketing.com


If I Were Marketing Vegan Foods…


To Plant Based Eaters


Now, If I were marketing either category of vegan foods to the first TG i.e. the plant based eaters, it would be relatively easy. 


Their biggest barriers to purchase:

  • Lack of awareness of the plant based alternatives and brands out there
  • Affordability of plant based alternatives


They are generally actively looking for affordable dairy alternatives and plant based alternatives. So all we would need to do is reach as many people as we can, convince them of the value for money (VFM) aspect of our vegan foods and we should be good to go. 


Marketing ideas to increase brand awareness among plant based eaters:    


We can reach a wider set of this plant-based TG by using the usual mass media of digital communication:

1.Social media marketing: FB groups, challenges like Veganuary, online courses and webinars such as those by Sharan India, Instagram stories, Whatsapping recipes, etc

2. Digital ads: FB ads, Instagram ads, Google Display ads, etc

3. Influencer marketing

4. E-commerce advertising and remarketing

5. Recipe book: Publish recipe books sharing how your packaged foods can be made into different delicious meals

6. Crowdsourced products:

Plant based eaters community is a small tight knit community. Each member passionate about this way of eating. What if we create a crowdsourced product or brand of vegan foods involving this vocal and active community?

Think Kickstarter. It is crowdsourced funding. So we do crowdsourced product ideas. Or think WordPress. It is for the people, by the people, of the people. So we convert our vegan foods business into one that can be community led or based or managed. Perhaps the new product innovation pipeline is created and curated by the plant based community. If the community is involved, brand awareness is not going to remain an issue. 


Marketing ideas to convey afforability/ value for money:


7. One by two: To make it more affordable, offer an empty jar or bottle along with your product. Objective is to encourage people to share half with whoever they wish to. Just like we get 1 by 2 soup in restaurants in India. This automatically makes it more affordable. Unlike smaller pack sizes, this 1 by 2 allows us to reach newer customers as people share more.

8. Sell sampling pack sizes: If only one person from the family is plant based, they may find it difficult to take the regular pack size, lest the item goes bad before she can fully consume it. So why not offer extremely small sizes such as sachets to allow even a single person to buy?

9. Subscription box: Offer a weekly or monthly subscription box of our vegan foods that make the combined value of each item affordable.

10. Stock-up Saturdays: Every Saturday, we can offer our products at wholesale prices to encourage bulk purchases. It will be like a falsh sale, albeit a predictable one. Even if people defer their purchases to the weekly discount, the volumes would help make up for loss in value. 

11. Cook a freebie:

During Covid, many restaurants sold DIY meal kits where they sent prepped ingredients and a video link on how to put together their signature dishes at home. As a packaged vegan foods maker, we can adapt this idea. 

Offer cooking kits that contain all the ingredients that people would need to make multiple dishes. Those ingredients of course would contain our products. People are not to pay for our products. They get them free when they sign up for the cookery classes. For e.g. we design a 20 recipe cookery course. Of these 20, only 15 would be using our vegan foods as ingredients. 5 would be bonus recipes. This way, people get VFM vegan foods and knowledge they can use forever.


To the Flexitarians


Now to create consideration and purchase intent among the 2nd group of TGs i.e. the Flexitarians, we would need some more effort in addition to the ones mentioned above. 


Additional barriers to purchase for flexitarians:


  • Difficulty giving up their favourite non-vegan foods i.e. cravings
  • Limited accessibility and challenges in social situations i.e. difficulty transitioning


If we can address these issues for them, we may be able to attract more Flexitarians to our customer base. So how do we do that?


Marketing ideas to ease transitioning and cravings

Standard Chartered started the Mumbai Marathon. Over the years, people who were not runners, started participating and actually running. Some did it out of FOMO, others did it because they wanted to tick it off their bucket lists, yet more did it to stretch their limits. In a similar vein, what if we launched a Taste-o-thon where we invite people to stretch their taste buds to as far as they can go? 

World Resource Institute’s research has found that using words like vegan, veganism in the food industry’s communication has a deterrent effect on many. Instead, focusing on taste, texture, flavour etc has a positive impact on sales. Hence, ‘Taste-o-thon’. 

It can have multiple levels- 7 days Dream Run, 15 days…..going all the way up to 21 days. Based on their levels, they have to try one new food and give up one favorite food per day. All of this will be pre decided. This way, they would slowly stretch their taste buds, their ability to control cravings and get introduced to each of our offerings.

For e.g. Day 1- (+) Cashew cheese nachos. (-) Ghee and butter for the day. Day 2- (+) Try kale smoothie today. (-) No milk for the day. So on and so forth. 

To execute, we could tie up with others in the vegan foods space (more the merrier). We email recipes that help make the new item deliciously.

They can have the option to buy and use our brand for the Taste-o-thon at a highly discounted rate for that duration, if they wish.

This becomes our Intellectual Property like Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon or Movember or Veganuary. It would yield wonderful results only if invested in for a longer duration. 

Of course, the best impact will happen if we can gamify it. People get to flaunt their levels of trying new foods- I am at level 5 i.e. I have tried 10 unique foods. I am at level 7 i.e. I have tried 14 unique foods. 

13. Pouchy packaging: 

uten pouchy packaging-vegan foods-www.ifiweremarketing.com


During research, I came across this unique packaging from Uten on Trendhunter from 2011. This packaging has a pouch tied around the jars and boxes. Each pouch is stuffed with recipe cards for the item within the jar. This is an eye-catching and interactive alternative to a recipe book.

For the Flexitarians, they find it challenging to transition because they don’t really know how to keep their taste buds satisfied without their favs. If they were given recipes to make delicious vegan foods, that offer the same familiar taste, in an interactive and engaging format, they are more likely to play around with them and try our product in the process. 



Lets take a break here. In the next post, we will continue with more marketing ideas that will speak to both Flexitarians and Everyone Else combined. Watch this space. 



Source link