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.
Veganuary has ended but the plant-based movement and brand accessibility inspires more to continue
Some may call it an annual plant-based trend, others are making it a lifestyle that continues long after the start of the year, thanks to thriving market growth as new launches and options enter. In short, enhanced choice has made veganism more appealing and most importantly, accessible to the masses.
Mainstream accessibility, along with a heightened range to select from is encouraging people to continue with plant-based varieties, long after the end of January. Over the past five years, 2% of people call themselves vegan, yet this is set to grow as more people than ever are choosing to try out plant-based food options.
On reflection, we can thank 2020 for being the year that more people made the dietary discovery, as brands popped up across the market and health awareness became a primary focus. From vegan pizza and pastries, to loaded fries and vegan burgers - the latter is currently taking centre stage with fast-food chains like McDonald’s, paying more attention with the introduction of the McPlant menu.
Analysts have predicted that the market is set to grow by 11.9% by 2027, so with this buoyant forecast in mind, let’s discuss some of our favourite vegan brands and products, with insight from a selection of the founders.
Bay’s Kitchen began in 2016, launching their first products in 2018. It was started by Bay Burdett, when she was diagnosed with IBS (crazy fact, roughly 20% of all people suffer from IBS). Hayley was then told to follow the FODMAP diet, when discovering there were almost no great, low FODMAP food options out there, she started her own journey by creating more options for people who suffer from the same thing, whilst ensuring these options remained gluten and lactose-free, so accessible for all.
Founder and CEO, Bay Burdett says: “We're predominantly plant-based, we’re low-FODMAP, we’re gluten-free and we’re dairy-free. It means everyone can come together and enjoy the same foods at the same time and not have to cook five different meals, every night for the family. We’re also big on taste, so that you don’t have to compromise, especially when you're already compromising on your diet if you've got restrictions. We've worked hard to make sure that just because our products don't contain certain ingredients, they are still packed with flavour.
“Our products are also convenient, as we're still working long hours and don't always have the time to cook every single meal from scratch. So, another reason I wanted to make these products was the fact that I found it difficult to go into a health food shop, or a supermarket to buy something that was convenient.”
Mindful Bites have their amazing Crunchy Bite snacks, these are vegan, gluten and dairy-free, high in plant-based protein, fibre rich, free from added sugar or sweeteners, made without palm oil, and created with sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients. The perfect mindful snack? We think so.
Sambazon Frozen Acaí Bowls
Sambazon’s Frozen Acai Bowls make eating a healthy, vibrant breakfast easier and more delicious than ever. To name a few of their flavours, they have Berry Bliss, Amazon Superberry and Peanut Butter Powder, and all of these are full of vitamin C, antioxidants and come with granola on the side.
Calling all peanut butter lovers, including myself. Fit4Nutz was started only half a year ago by Matthew Ashley, with an idea that came about because of his passion for health and fitness, amidst lockdown. This sparked the genius idea to create peanut butter options with less calories. Most fitness lovers have a slight addiction to peanut butter, but struggle with the amount of calories, Matthew therefore came up with the perfect solution.
Founder, Matthew Ashley says: “I think we’re in quite a unique spot as there aren’t really any great tasting, low calorie peanut butter brands out there. If I could describe Fit4Nutz in three words, I would probably call us fun, colourful and unique. Unique for obvious reasons in terms of the product itself. As I say, there's nothing else like it out there, and because of that uniqueness, we kind of want you to go down a bit of a different route.
“So, for us we wanted to keep it kind of light and entertaining. We've got little mascots, very colourful labels, things that you wouldn't necessarily be told to do if you were coming up with a new product. We wanted to keep it inclusive for our customers, be it anyone of the older generation or the younger generation, everyone can get involved in the brand and just think of it as a fun and delicious product that everyone could fit into their diet lifestyle. This was really the main thing for me.”
How plant-based brands are utilising strong social media community engagement
As the power of the flourishing plant-based market expands year-on-year, we continue to explore how changing consumer behaviour and brand marketing evolve together.
Initially, let’s go back to why plant-based is proving to prevail. We can clearly observe that new generations care a lot about animal well-being and they’re not afraid to talk about it. Every year, around 8 billion animals are slaughtered, plus animal agriculture is also responsible for around 91% of the destruction in the Amazon rainforest. Attention has turned to the negative impact on the planet due to eating meat, highlighting the positives when we do go vegan or veggie.
Sustainability is another example of why we’ve decided to start a plant-based diet. Plant-based doesn’t use as many natural resources and therefore puts less pressure on the environment.
How are brands communicating these messages? Social media is the main way for small, plant-based brands to reach and communicate with their existing and new clients. By sharing pictures, recipe ideas and consumers posts, there are endless routes to engage people on these platforms.
There was a boom in the plant-based market at the beginning of the pandemic with many people choosing to start eating more vegetables and less meat. This is especially interesting when you look at the number of Google searches for ‘vegan’ which rose by 700% in a matter of four years.
During the same period, there was a massive popularity rise in following a flexitarian diet. This was driven by health and environmental influences, with 60% of people now calling themselves flexitarian. So where better to find them than on social media? Here are some of our favourite vegan brands, excelling with their products and social media presence.
Doisy & Dam
Doisy & Dam is a great-tasting chocolate brand that all chocolate lovers should know about. They only use the best ingredients, which are ethically sourced - caring for the planet is a big one for these guys. They know that the vegan community is a strong one that really supports each other. When we spoke to them, Liv provided insights which definitely make them stand out from other vegan chocolate brands.
Marketing Manager, Liv Sinclair says: “At Doisy and Dam we’ll always try and have a personal connection with our consumers and we do that in numerous ways. Whether it's signing off some social media posts with our name, so people know that it's not an automatic response, that there’s an actual person at the end of that tweet, for example. I'm so happy we can do this as we are a small enough company.
“If you go on our website, it has the contact us section and when people call us, that number will go directly to one of our founders. We know nothing is more annoying than a faceless company when you try to speak to a human being, getting a robotic automatic reply or bad customer service. We want to practice what we preach and say that we are super accessible, making this clear to our consumers as well when they have questions or issues with the products. People also often leave funny and nice reviews about our products, which we love to share, combined with the photos they take of our products and what they make of them. We like to share positivity within our community.”
Minor Figures are the new, up-and-coming brand for ready-made, vegan coffee drinks. They’ve managed to combine the great quality cold-brew with some simple ingredients, which are all naturally vegan. The Iced Mocha is a definite favourite, it combines nitro coffee with house-made oat milk and cacao. Perfect for the lactose intolerant people out there. I’m one of them.
Beyond Meat burgers, I think we’ve all heard of them since they’re available in almost every supermarket and even restaurants. They look like the real deal when you open the package and even when you cook it, tasting like a beef burger but without the environmental impact. Look to their Instagram feed for impactful storytelling and user-generated content.
THIS isn’t bacon
THIS isn’t bacon has a great texture which is chewy, meaty, smoky and salty. It’s amazing to put on a pizza, to use in a salad, or for when you’re making a BLT, it’s the right savoury hit. This is a saviour for any veggies or vegans missing bacon.
Plant-Based Hotdogs by Meatless Farm
The plant-based hotdogs from Meatless Farm are free from any artificial ingredients, gluten, soy and preservatives. Besides this, they are made with a pea-based protein, which is actually low in fat, high in protein and low in sodium. A great replacement if you’re craving a hotdog but want to try a vegan/veggie lifestyle.
Plant-based brands keeping transparency at the forefront
Throughout our three-part assessment of the plant-based brand market, we spoke to an abundance of industry experts and discovered many similarities concerning the message they wish to convey. Predominantly, brands gain customer trust through the transparency of clean ingredients. Vegan or not, customers value transparency, ethics and sustainability.
Take Dr. Vegan, the Founder knew that many companies are using ingredients that customers would not ingest if they knew the origin. For example, lambs’ tongues, talcum powder, to name just two shocking common ingredients. When we spoke to Karin from Vivera, she explained to us how they show their transparency to consumers by putting QR codes on the packaging of all their products, so when people scan these they can see exactly what’s in the product and how they’re made.
Fan Yang from Other Foods, mentioned a great way to get people involved in this new lifestyle by allowing people to try out the products, via sampling. People are always curious but sometimes scared to try something new. Sampling makes it easier for these people to get out of their comfort zone and find a new product they love. This way, they can also give product feedback to see where improvements can be made.
Head of Brand Marketing, Alexandra Wallin says: “Conveying that message through our campaign #CheckTheLabel means that we empower our audience and educate them on what ingredients to look out for. We also provide exceptional customer service, offering 24/7 access to expert nutritionists welcoming any questions. Additionally, we pioneered the Diet Profile (free) on site to act as a triage of nutrition and a window into your current diet. In turn, customers know that DR.VEGAN products are guaranteed high quality, because we are the source of nutrition clarity and expertise.
“Our biggest challenge is in educating our audience about the importance of clean ingredients. Most people purchase vitamins and supplements from the high street or supermarket, without much research or not knowing what ingredients 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, it doesn't mean it's clean or good for you. I do encourage people to read our article ‘Check your labels’ for these ingredients #CheckTheLabel."
Vivera is a brand I personally grew up with in the Netherlands, they’ve been active for 30 years and are well established in many countries. They want to be accessible for everyone, no matter where they are in their plant-based journey.
Marketing Manager, Karin Lowik says: “We identified different target groups and established there are three types of consumers. There are consumers that are more interested or motivated by the climate aspect. There's a group that's more motivated by wellbeing and health, because veggie products have less saturated fats and there's a group that's more about animal welfare. So, those are three different segments, and they require different targeting options. We take this into consideration in the initial messaging, but also take in that across countries, eating habits are very different. The recipes and messages around these groups which we send out to the Netherlands are different than from those to the UK, because cooking is of course, very culturally different. We try to adjust as much as possible to these countries and groups to make it as easy as possible for people to make this change in their lifestyle.”
Founder of Other Foods, Fan Yang, gave us insight into the world of mushrooms and how these can be transformed into an intriguing and cool product. We eat mushrooms every day, but to turn them into a crisp is something quite unseen.
Founder of Other Foods, Fan Yang says: “So far, we’ve converted many people who absolutely hate mushrooms. Eating our crisps is a very interesting experience, it's healthy and indulgent. It's a lovely alternative and that's what we want to achieve. Our products are much healthier because mushrooms are full of fibre and we all know how fibre is so important to your gut health. We don't use veggie powder, we don't use modified starch, when you open our packages, you can see whole mushrooms. We just want to promote a whole food, wholesome experience to customers.”
Kate Percy’s is not a vegan company. A lot of the recipes in Kate’s books contain animal products including eggs and milk, but what they do try to do is help people lead a more plant-based life, which is why we wanted to cover them in this article. Kate Percy’s is all about discovering the link between food, good energy and happiness. She lives her life by the term ‘enerjoy’ (Kate Percy's Go Bites and their mix at home Baking Range are vegan).
Founder, Kate Percy says: “Something cool that we do that sets us apart in this industry is that we’ve created an education program which has been going for many years, since 2014. It’s called #Cook5withKatePercy and the whole concept is that we believe that every young person should leave home and be able to cook five recipes. Our program sets them up for that.
It gives them a platform where they can find and create simple, healthy recipes. When we go to schools and teach them these recipes, the kids really love cooking and they love not following a recipe completely, which allows them to be creative with it as well.”