When it comes to developing new meat-free foods, the recipe for success includes two main ingredients — and neither are legumes. The first is great tasting food. The second may be less obvious, but that’s by design. It’s clever marketing.
Many companies have found the term “plant-based” is more compelling to consumers than “vegan” — even though they effectively mean the same thing. Much like putting too much garlic in a dish, using the term “vegan” to describe meat substitutes can come off too strong, discouraging some customers from buying it.
What’s the Difference?
Vegans, like vegetarians, do not eat meat. But, unlike vegetarians, vegans avoid animal products entirely, including foods like honey, milk, and cheese.
The implications of the term “vegan” go beyond dietary preferences. Going vegan often informs consumer choices outside the food industry, such as a refusal to purchase leather or down products. Veganism can even go hand-in-hand with environmental and animal welfare activism.
Some food companies have found it pays to keep grocery shoppers focused on their groceries. While it might be technically accurate to describe most plant-based foods as vegan, these companies worry the label could turn off potential customers who are eating plant-based for other reasons and don’t adhere entirely to a vegan lifestyle.
Tweaking the Recipe
Still, even in a single industry, the recipe for success is not the same for every company. While some companies are choosing to eliminate the phrase “vegan” from their marketing, others are doubling down.
Be sure to check for the tell-tale signs next time you’re at the grocery store. You’ll likely find meat-free food companies will describe their products as either “plant-based” or “vegan” — but rarely both.
To industry outsiders, this might all seem like semantics. However, in an industry as competitive as the food industry, making a few small tweaks to your brand’s marketing can be just what’s needed to bring home the bacon.
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