Plant-based Market Positioning

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

The first rule of branding, marketing, or any kind of design (according to us), is to start with Why. Tapping into deeper motivations of customers is, when possible, simply where you start. They’ll connect with your brand to reinforce their identity – it’ll work at the subconscious level.

But how might this work with vegans? I’m guessing you have a vague idea of what motivates them. But you’re wrong!

What motivates vegans?

Peruse any local Vegan Facebook page and you’ll soon discover that this group contains many Whys, that are ideologically opposed so as to spark verbal conflict. Insiders like to refer to these as being Health, Animal or Environmental Vegans. Put simply, you can’t bank on any overlap.

Vegan market segmentation

Animal Vegans eat the most junk. They avoid animal food to avoid harm to animals, not for their own health or the world. If your product is decidedly not a health food, and you want to connect with the vegan market, consider branding it as ‘good for animals’ rather than good for humans. Animal Vegans may even eat poorly just to spite themselves. Their own health is irrelevant.

For Health Vegans, animals are little more than an afterthought. When they became vegan (they call it plant-based), animals were irrelevant. They might grow to appreciate animals more over time, but in general, their beliefs and attitudes to animals aren’t different to the mainstream. Put simply, there is no guarantee a Health Vegan is looking beyond the end of their nose. If your product is designed to have specific health benefits, you’ll have more luck targeting them.

Environmental Vegans have entirely different motivations, although they tend to be in the middle of Animal and Health Vegans. They look beyond themselves and are generally holistically minded, so they are likely to appreciate healthy food, as well as recognise humanity’s abuse of the animal world.

A better way to position vegan products

Marketing on the motivational level to Vegans is theoretically hard. It easier to target the veg-curious:

  • health conscious people;
  • environmentally conscious people; or
  • people who care about animals.

The good news is that any of these groups has more people than the current vegan population (although that is growing).

But now we have new problems!

Potential issues with veg-curious marketing

If you implied to people in any of the above groups that eating animals is wrong, for any reason, you’ll probably alienate them. You want to appeal to their basic motivation, for example eating sustainably, without guilt tripping them. You don’t want to undermine the world-view of your intended market.

This means you can’t tap into a base motivation as explicitly as you would if you were marketing to a vegan. So what are your options now?

You could subtly support their perspective shift, with semiotics rather than messaging. For example, for foods marketed to the animal-loving veg-curious, a positive image of an animal, and depending

Of course, you may not feel the need to market to motivations in the current, expanding state of the market. In fact most aren’t. Hungry Jack’s in Australia (Burger King elsewhere) has been pushing it’s plant-based options enthusiastically without really saying more than “0%Beef!” So people can try it without really thinking of feeling anything. Which is kind of what you want from Hungry Jack’s I guess?

But then again, their competition is pretty thin at the moment. As the plant-based/vegan world continues to expand, the need for differentiation through branding will too.