We’ve reached a major crossroads in the burgeoning development of the plant-based food market to the point where we are now branding in a ‘post-vegan’ era. Brands need to decide which path they are on; there’s no being all-things-to-everyone anymore.
In only a couple of years the words ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ have gone from being great identifying labels for consumers to meaning very little at all – we’re in a ‘post-vegan’ world and brands need to adapt, just labeling your brands ‘Vegan’ or ‘Vegetarian’ isn’t enough anymore!
It’s true, only a short while back your plant-based brand purpose was easily identified just by labeling your brand as Vegan or Vegetarian and it meant something to consumers who were in a large minority and just wanted their lives made simpler with some easily identified badge that made purchase journeys easy. They wanted retailers to signpost them to their choice of lifestyle and in general they didn’t get the support they wanted; and whilst retailers found it easy to categorise what you stood for they didn’t try too hard to accommodate it; it was dismissed as niche.
But here we are in 2019 and the market has exploded to the point that vegan and vegetarian has no real meaning, we’re in the ‘post vegan’ era and we need to adapt!
I’m not going to harp back for long to those stodgy, hair-shirt definitions of a Vegan, because most of them aren’t true, it was just that it was such a niche positioning, and we are well passed that now. However, we should also remember where we’ve come from and how quickly we have got to where we are now – in fact it’s only taken just a couple of ‘Veganuary’s’!
Being a Vegan or vegetarian product gave your brand something; it did make you stand out, it offered a definition for consumers to get their heads around and they could easily identify with or against it and, let’s be honest, in general, all these ranges were pretty easy to find as they all came in various shades of ‘green’ or (for some odd reason) shades of beige!!
So where are we now? Veganism and meat-reduction is HIP and FUN and MAINSTREAM! Being vegan or planet friendly is simply a great, positive space!
Essentially the world of plant-based has matured incredibly quickly in just two years. Only last year the key reason for eating less meat was cited as for ‘health’ reasons but this year’s headlines on the impact ‘meat’ has on the environment (1.Huge reduction in-meat eating essential to avoid climate breakdown. 2.People must eat plant based to save planet) has created a swing towards even more reasons to change ones diet in even the smallest way and brands are rushing to try and catch up with consumer demand and position themselves in this space.
Retailers have tried to adapt. In UK, Waitrose have had ‘Vegan’ and vegetarian’ sections in their fridges since 2018 and Sainsbury’s rebranded their own label plant based sku’s as ‘Love Veg’ at the same time. But again, I contest that this really is old hat – it doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Meat reducing consumers have moved on. They want their food to be great tasting and which are also helping them to do their bit for 1. Their own health and 2. The impact on the planet. They want enjoyment, flavor, excitement and colour. They want foods they can choose to fit their lifestyle and where they are on the eat-less-meat journey. Brands now need to consider this.
Vegan/vegetarian food has now gone mainstream; it can no longer rely on a banner as identifier. Each brand in the market will now need to identify itself to its proposed target. The second line in this headline tells the story:
In becoming ‘the market’, brands now need to identify themselves as ‘food’ first and ‘diet specific’ second. The type of food, flavor, ingredients, quality etc. are now the identifiers in this market. The market segmentation and positioning of brands will now be judged the same way as all food. Plant-based brands in this market have jumped out of a niche.
The good news is that this opens the door to huge potential. Being food-first increases opportunity as there are more categories to go after and more consumers to enroll. For example here is a simple demonstration of vegan/veggie foods and their segmentation.
So where do you dial up/down on your foodie credentials? All these have a different need. Where will your brand fit? How ‘foodie’ do you want to be? Much more consideration is needed now than ever before.
And then we move to other categories; where do brands in fashion, travel, beauty, restaurants etc go to next; they all have the same dilemma!
In my opinion it’s a great problem to have; it shows how much things have moved on.
Branding has gone ‘post-vegan’!