Harnessing the spending power of the plant-based consumer in grocery
Early in 2020, we shared four interesting statistics that proved plant-based is more than just a fad. Since then, consumer appetite for plant-based alternatives has only increased. As the world adapted to spending more time at home, social media conversations around vegan baking jumped 35% in 2020. Plant-based alternatives are in 53% of U.S. households, so this is a cohort of consumers that is worth putting focus on as part of your marketing strategy.
It's a more powerful strategy than you might think. Here's a statistic that may surprise you:
A plant-based consumer's basket value is 61% higher than the average shopper's basket value.
This is a statistic that cannot be ignored. Since plant-based alternatives will only become more popular, harnessing the spending power of plant-based consumers should be a vital component of any grocery and food brand marketing strategy. Understanding what the plant-based customer wants is the first step.
With plant-based alternatives in 53% of American households, a figure which will only grow, it's clear that these products are not just for those who follow a plant-based diet. More and more people are embracing a flexitarian diet, meaning they are incorporating more plant-based meals into their weekly meal plans but not giving up animal products such as meat and dairy entirely. This means that grocery retailers and food brands need to be flexible in their plant-based marketing strategy too, focusing on vegans and flexitarians alike. Meal plans, where a week's worth of recipe content is bundled together, are a great place to start. Clearly tagging meal plans as either plant-based or flexitarian and enabling consumers to easily filter the plans that apply to them makes the inspiration stage more efficient and helps those who are struggling with a flexitarian approach stay on track with their eating goals. It also helps grocery retailers build a reputation as a reliable source of easily accessible plant-based recipe content. Adopting a flexible approach means grocery retailers and food brands can leverage the increased basket value of flexitarians as well as plant-based consumers.
40% of people say coming up with a varied meal plan is a challenge. It's easy to create a meal plan that relies on the same old reliables week in, week out, but once you add variety into the mix as a requirement it becomes an awful lot more challenging. Couple that with a requirement that the meals be plant-based and all bets are off! Creating a varied meal plan is more challenging for plant-based consumers because not only do they have to go through the same search processes as everyone else, they also have to check that the recipes are truly plant-based. Recipe content that is incorrectly tagged or not tagged at all does not help.
The first step towards offering the sort of variety plant-based consumers crave is conducting an honest audit of your existing recipe content. What percentage of your recipe content is plant-based? Is there enough content to enable consumers to create plant-based meal plans that vary week-to-week? There are still significantly more meat-eaters than vegans so you may think that increasing the number of plant-based recipes on your website is a waste of time, but remember that the plant-based consumer's basket value is 61% higher so it is a worthy exercise. 10 plant-based recipes are not going to help grocery retailers and food brands harness the spending power of consumers who follow a plant-based diet. Increase the number of plant-based recipes on your website, update the recipe content regularly and make it easy for consumers to find the recipe content that best suits their dietary requirements.
Illustrate that you care - and mean it!
Plant-based consumers are often more selective about the businesses they are willing to support but grocery chains have an advantage because budget concerns and ease of access mean the majority of consumers will turn to them for the bulk of their grocery needs. This doesn't mean that grocery retailers can sit back and wait for plant-based consumers to come to them. There has never been so much competition in the grocery space, so consumers can still choose the supermarket that aligns best with their beliefs. 87% of consumers say that it's important to buy from a retailer that understands 'the real me'. Winning the spending power of plant-based consumers over a competitor means illustrating that you not only care about their concerns but also share them. What does this mean in practice? Share your brand's environmental initiatives with your customers. Harness the knowledge of your staff to create thought-provoking content that helps your customers set and reach environmental goals in their own lives. Perhaps one of your store managers is passionate about home composting or your marketing manager makes their own oat milk. Leverage that interest to not only help your customers get started but to illustrate to environmentally-conscious consumers that these issues are important to your brand. A word of warning: authenticity matters. Environmental content for the sake of it will not attract plant-based consumers to your brand. In a nutshell, plan content that adds true value.
Online recipe content is overwhelmingly non-vegan, so there are huge opportunities for grocery retailers and food brands to make the meal planning and inspiration stages more convenient for plant-based consumer and in turn earn their loyalty and trust. The plant-based diet is not a fad so putting the strategies outlined in this blog in place now will pay dividends into the future.