27 Jul, 2021
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Andy Wardlaw, Chief Ideas Officer
23 Feb, 2021 | 3 minute read
Prepare yourself for a shock. Most people are not actively seeking plant-based options. Understandably, the population has other priorities right now. So, how can we inspire the indifferent at a time when people are really starting to worry about the plight of our planet? Maybe we should take inspiration from this little selection of products, where being plant-based isn't the be all and end all.
Plant-based products maybe delivering high growth rates at this time, but we are still at the beginning of this journey. The evidence is there, people are mostly apathetic - despite what many surveys would have you believe.
In 2019, a study by Kantar and GFK incorporating 24 countries, looking into people's behavior rather than attitudes found that only 16% of the world’s population were truly active when it came to making sustainable choices. They found that half the population was totally uninterested, most notably in developing regions.
In 2021, the British Nutrition Foundation reported that 60% of people are unlikely to embrace a plant-based diet this year. Many associate ‘plant-based’ with ‘veganism’ – and probably creates unnecessary barriers. BNF found that the most engaged cohorts are Gen Z and (surprisingly) the over 65s.
And just in, a poll from MMR/Toluna that found that ‘not feeling the need’ to go plant-based is a top 3 barrier to trial across the U.K and U.S - after price and taste concerns.
From the U.S, a range of plant-based beverages that literally pop and fizz, thanks to a hi-tech nitro widget. When opened, the can entertains with an audible whoosh that releases nitrogen into the coffee – providing a particularly creamy mouthfeel. Flavors mimic some of the brand’s best-selling bottled drinks including Black & White, XX Espresso and Salted Caramel. These aren’t alternatives. They’re a great experience in their own right.
Pioneers in bringing plant-based options to more plates, Quorn has powered up the food values to drive brand trial and share its mission to reduce carbon emissions. This new launch features Peri-Peri seasoned with cumin, lemon and chili, and Turkish Style Kebab with citrusy coriander and warming cumin and ginger. It’s all about the food values. Not a vegan flash in sight.
We actually helped Quorn with this one, check out our case study for more info...
There’s a takeover in the cleaning aisle. Reckitt Benckiser has just released a brand-new range of germ-busters that will up the ante for the plant kingdom. You might think that asking people to choose plant-based right in the middle of a pandemic is crazy. Don't we all need the hard stuff right now? Well think again, because this new range walks the line between efficacy and environmentally friendlier remarkably well.
The packaging leaves nothing to chance, deploying a confident new sub-brand: TRU CLEAN – which asserts itself to be ‘PLANT BASED ACTIVE’ and KILLS 99.9% OF BACTERIA AND VIRUSES.
The Multi-Surface Cleaner delivers no loss of cleaning power with its modern Lime & Lemongrass scent. The trigger spray fires with a reassuring urgency; the slightly foamy liquid clings to surfaces for deep-cut efficacy and the lasting aroma is sharp and cues prolonged impact.
With big, trusted brands like Dettol joining the ranks of Method and e-Cover, the household cleaning category is accelerating into a kinder, greener proposition. And with more products like this one, any suggestion that plant-based means second-rate cleaning will be swept away. Pun intended.
When you think about it, it’s no surprise that Ben & Jerry’s is making a real effort with plant-based innovation. Its parent (Unilever) has pushed ahead with corporate responsibility for some time now and has just set a sales target of $1.2 billion for plant-based meat and dairy alternatives in its portfolio over the next five to seven years.
When you add Ben & Jerry’s crusading heritage into the equation, then it's easy to imagine a future where this brand makes more of a stand in favor of plant-based soul food.
Admittedly, product delivery of non-dairy desserts has yet to match the white stuff on all organoleptic measures, but it’s getting very close - and can only get closer.
Some brands are backing plants not as an alternative, but as a source of goodness – like Remedy Organics.
This brand isn’t just clean label, it’s proudly seen label - featuring a full cast of superheroes from the natural world - from Medjool dates to maca.
And with Covid generally considered to be shifting people toward ‘better for you’ products, this kind of fortification 2.0 approach – where plant power is woven into recipes for a higher functioning result – is likely to be another boost to the covert plant invasion in the months to come.
So, there is a way to overcome people’s hesitations about plant-based alternatives. Don’t make a thing of it. Don’t choose insipid colors for your pack. Don’t let ‘Dairy Free’ or ‘Meat Free’ or ‘Vegan’ dominate your communication. Create products that offer new and exciting experiences rather than pale imitations of ‘the real thing.’
Take it from me, the selection I put together for this series is not the norm. Most launches into the plant-based arena still look more at home in a health food specialist than a major food retailer.
And for the good of all mankind, this has got to change.
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