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PLANTING THE FUTURE


Source: TeamLab: Floating Flower Garden: Flowers and I are of the Same Root, the Garden and I are One (2015)


In the past five years, the plant-based category has grown wild, with no signs of it slowing down.


Weird and wonderful entrants are popping up daily and whether it's planet-saving potato milk or plant-based shower gel, everyone wants a slice of the action.



We've examined the category, key consumer drivers and shifts in both mainstream and challenger brands, in order to identify where the fertile ground is.


 

CATEGORY OVERVIEW


In a report by Vantage Market Research, the global plant-based market was valued at a revenue of $40.21.bn in 2021. Globally the market is expected to reach $77.bn by 2025 and by 2030, Statista forecasts it will have doubled.


Sources: Vantage Market Research, Kerry Foods, Nestle, The Good Food Institute & UBS


WHERE'S THE GROWTH?

According to Nestlé, growth in the plant-based category is coming from flexitarian diets, as consumers embrace the challenge and variety involved in making plant-based meals, without feeling the pressure to swear off meat forever.


TASTE REIGNS SUPREME

But it's not as easy as just swapping out beef for bean burgers. Consumers want the pay-off, with data from UBS Evidence Lab showing that taste curiosity is the primary driver behind trial in plant-based.


 

WHAT'S DRIVING THE GROWTH?

Whether the motivation is better health, ending animal cruelty or sustaining our planet, we’ve examined the four key drivers that make consumers curious for plant-based.



HEALTHIER CHOICES

As part of the wider health trend, consumers are increasingly seeking better-for-you and natural products. To many, plant-based is simply a byword for ‘health’ and according to Nestle, 50% of UK consumers are now following a flexitarian diet due to its perceived health benefits.


SUSTAINABLE LIVING

Understanding the link between food choice and environmental impact is becoming commonplace, with brands increasingly talking about sustainable and responsible sourcing of ingredients. In a study by Vogue Business, environmental impact was found to be the second biggest driver for buying plant-based products, at 60% of consumers.




ANIMAL WELFARE

Consumers are also becoming increasingly concerned about animal welfare in the brands and products that they choose. According to Vogue Business, 61% of consumers now say that animal welfare is their primary reason for buying plant-based products, with a third of consumers actively looking to reduce their meat consumption.

LIFESTYLE STATEMENTS

From the internal to the external, plant-based alternatives also have a cultural cache in food, drink and beyond, appealing strongly to a more ‘woke’ generation who don’t believe consumerism should come at a cost to the planet.


 

PLANT-BASED : THE MAINSTREAM


Plant-based is no longer a niche market, dominated only by brands with a strong, ethical stance. Mainstream brands are getting in on the action and plant-based variations are becoming the norm, from Babybel to Birdseye.


However plant for plant’s sake isn’t enough today. Mainstream brands are just 'showing up', badging as plant-based and not tempting with taste or purposeful problem solving. In this forest of leafy sameness it’s a game of spot-the-difference, with many brands and products employing the same upbeat, busy, natural codes.



UNLOCKING IMPACT AT SCALE

As Kathryn Jubrail , the Mother Design MD said in Creative Boom,

Kathryn Jubrail, ‘Mother Design MD on post-pandemic design trends, ‘kitchen table’ agency culture and more’ Creative Boom


The best way to affect change is by changing behaviour at scale - and, there’s no better way to do it than through taste.





 

TASTE GOOD, DO GOOD


For mainstream brands, the real opportunity is to achieve impact at scale by putting taste first. Taste good, do good.



TASTE GOOD, DO GOOD BEHAVIOURS

Balance proud purpose with deliciousness like Oatly, and put your reason to exist front and centre in tasty typography.


Have tangible taste appeal like Proper Chips by amplifying flavour cues and the taste experience with bright, foodie colours.


Badge with benefits like Graze and celebrate what makes you better than the competition and your better-for-you credentials.


By adopting mainstream taste appeal with a challenger attitude, brands have a sure recipe for success.


 

PLANT-BASED: THE CHALLENGERS


Unlike mainstream brands, plant-based challengers are leading with personality. Whether it’s bright and bold like Doisy & Dam, cheeky illustrations like Pip & Nut or bold statements like THIS, challenger brands have something to say.



FROM SMALL AND SWEET TO BIG AND BRAVE

But in recent years, we’ve identified a shift - as the plant-based category grows,

challenger brand behaviour is growing up with it.



Plant-based brands are leaving legacy category codes behind and growing up, fighting for attention with classic FMCG cues to drive taste and mainstream appeal. So how can plant-based challenger brands cut through the noise and create disruption?


 

BE BRAVE, UNAPOLOGETIC & IMPACTFUL.


For challenger brands, the way to cut through the noise and achieve impact at scale is to be brave, unapologetic and impactful.


BRAVE, UNAPOLOGETIC & IMPACTFUL BEHAVIOURS


Have bold, brand first impact like GIGANTIC!, the new plant-based and refined sugar free candy bar in the US, with it's single-minded, 'logo first' design.


Hero the product with food photography like Misfits, to dramatise the taste and experience.


Disrupt the category with punchy naming like Carrot Dogs, to be unforgettable and stand out as a healthier choice.



 

WHERE'S THE FERTILE GROUND?


With mainstream brands just showing up and challenger brands adopting more mainstream behaviours, where is the fertile ground?


DESIGNING FOR PLANT-BASED BRANDS AT SCALE:


DRIVE TASTE APPEAL

Taste is the most important driver for plant-based products. And with most category growth coming from flexitarian diets it’s more important than ever to put deliciousness before worthy ethics to drive mainstream appeal. Learn from Eat Real, combining macro product photography with fresh and tasty ingredients.






BE CLEAN AND IMPACTFUL

The plant-based category, both mainstream and challenger, is noisy and competitive. A clean and impactful design is key to standing out and being remembered. Carrot Dogs do this effortlessy with their bright orange pack and disruptive naming.







BE FAMILIAR, YET DIFFERENT

A sure fire way to get mainstream appeal is to offer consumers an improvement on existing products. Look at GIGANTIC!, a better for you take on a Snickers. Same impact and energy, but without the dairy and refined sugars.









BE PROUDLY PURPOSEFUL

To stand up in the category like Oatly you must have an authentic reason to exist beyond just ‘being plant’. It’s not enough to add leaves to your pack - be proudly purposeful.






GET IN TOUCH TO DISCUSS YOUR PLANT-BASED BRAND CHALLENGES WITH US TIM@BEOUTLAW.COM

LEE@BEOUTLAW.COM




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