If you’ve been to London in August, you may have noticed these giant ads in the streets. “Now, that’s a M*** F*** burger!”. The plant-based brand Meatless Farm launched an advertising campaign that did not go unnoticed.
Today, at Quinoa Marketing, we unveil the secret sauce that gave this branding campaign a real kick, so you can build a great marketing strategy for your sustainable or plant-based brand.
A Bit of Background
Before telling you more about the marketing recipe for Meatless Farm, here’s a little context about the brand and its target market.
The Meatless Farm launched a catchy £1.5 million campaign in the UK last August, targeting meat-eaters that have changed their eating habits during the lockdown.
This is a complete campaign, supported by print advertising, branded electric cars driving through London, billboards, bus signs, and a TV & radio ad. This represents a change in the advertising strategy for the brand, which had previously built a community on social media.
The Meatless Farm is considered one of the fastest-growing plant-based meat companies in the UK, with an annual growth of about 10%. Their products are now sold through 4 major food retailers across the UK.
Consumption of plant-based products grew by 179% year on year, according to the market research company Nielsen. More than a third of Brits have increased their consumption of plant-based food during the lockdown.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it would investigate complaints about “indecency” after the campaign’s launch.
To sum things up, we have a dynamic brand in a promising market. And the Meatless Farm needed to create broader brand awareness, now that they have a strong online community. They needed a branding campaign targeting all (urban) Brits.
Let’s take a closer look at their branding strategy.
Step 1: Do Not Sell “Vegan” Products
Wait, what? Yes, you heard us, you should not sell “vegan” products. Before going any further, let’s take a few steps back: do most plant-based brands you know to use the word “vegan” on their packaging? Well, not so many, right? There’s a good reason for this.
The word “vegan” is not the best suited for marketing and branding. It makes your product look as if it were only for a small and closed community of vegan consumers. Instead, using “plant-based” highlights the nutritional properties of the product, and its natural, healthy nature.
According to a Better Buying Lab’s research, it’s better to focus on positive characteristics such as the “provenance”, “flavor”, “look and feel” of your products. These characteristics can make plant-based food more appealing.
A study from the London School of Economics confirms this. 750 consumers were asked to order food in a fake restaurant. Only 6% of consumers ordered a plant-based dish when they were placed in the vegetarian section, compared to 13% when the plant-based dishes were places in the menu without separation. Moreover, plant-based meat sales are 23% higher when placed in the meat aisle in supermarkets, and not in a separate section.
Check out what Meatless Farm did: they positioned their company on the burger market segment, not directly on the vegan segment. We understand by their name that the product is plant-based but that’s not the key point of their campaign.
Therefore, let’s position your products as plant-based, competing directly with animal products, except as a healthier and eco-friendlier alternative.
This will allow you to target the flexitarians, those who occasionally eat meat but who are eager to add plant-based items to their diet.
Step 2: Stand Out From the Crowd
Provocation can be a helpful tool. Provocation makes a common thought more interesting, people will look, click, comment. More importantly, they will feel a certain way about it. No matter the emotion, be it anger, amusement, curiosity: emotionally charged events are way better remembered than others. There is a consolidation process occurring in the hippocampus of our brain, that keeps the memories for longer and in greater detail.
So you see, you don’t just deliver a message to your clients, you have to make them feel something in association with your message.
That’s exactly what Meatless Farm did with their provocative campaign: Londoners might have been surprised, shocked, might have found it funny, but the key is that they will remember this ad longer than the one next to it on the street.
Your turn: try to think of a campaign that does not only raise interest in what you sell, but that also allows an emotional memory in your consumers’ brains.
Step 3: Play to Win, Use the Meat Industry’s Tactics Against It
Looking for strategies to better sell your plant-based products?
The keywords are ‘favorability’ and ‘permissibility.’
Favorability is how much a shopper likes your product and favors it over other alternatives. And permissibility is whether or not a shopper will allow this product into their cart, into their home, and into their life.
Shoppers express favorability based on a product’s rational attributes, while permissibility is based on a product’s emotional benefits.
Until now, the meat industry has enjoyed years of favorability, thanks to years of the same animal-based products offered in supermarkets. They played on both favorability and permissibility when advertising local and organic meat. Consumers felt reassured in their choices.
It’s time to change that and to play against the meat industry with the rules of sale! Here is a quick guide for you to position your plant-based products. It all comes down to these two concepts.
These concepts are essential when elaborating on a marketing strategy for a plant-based product.
Indeed, you have to play on favorability towards your plant-based products by insisting on the objective benefits for consumers’ health, especially compared to animal-based products. The way to do that simply on the packaging or on the ad is by using the words ‘plant-based’, ‘natural’, ‘vitamin-packed’, etc. You should also insist on these aspects in other ways, explaining the composition of your products, releasing comparisons with animal-based products.
Permissibility being based on emotions; here you do not have to convince people anymore but to make them feel better by buying your products. The use of cruelty-free, slaughter-free are playing on this, but might be seen as a bit extreme by flexitarians, who are not yet used to this.
The Meatless Farm plays a lot on permissibility, by advertising its plant-based burgers as the best option on the entire market, as the best burger. It makes you feel confident about their products. By stating “Now that’s a M*** F*** game changer” in their ads, they assure people that their product is different (plant-based), but the one going in the right direction. It makes consumers want to be part of this trend as well.
There are a lot of ways to play on permissibility, and we encourage you to work a lot on this. Consumers might know that avoiding meat consumption is good for them, but if they don’t feel like buying plant-based products, they’ll never shift towards this diet. Emotion is key.
Before starting a branding campaign, make sure that you have already had an established community of potential customers on social media and a good dynamic. At Quinoa Marketing, we have special tips for you regarding this, and we can provide you with all the help you need, by building and managing your digital marketing strategy according to your needs.
If you’re ready to launch a broad branding campaign, make sure to plan the steps carefully and to think outside the box so you can make a great impression on the public!