In recent years, there’s been a strong consumer shift toward plant-based food brands. Whether it’s out of concern for the environment, health, or ethical reasons, consumers are reducing their meat consumption across the board.
A recent report by BIS research estimated that the plant-based market will reach $480.43 billion by 2024, with a projected CAGR of 13.82% from 2019 to 2024. On top of that, Nestlé reported that 87% of Americans are now including plant-based protein in their diets.
Planted-based eating is not a small niche anymore, and more growth means more competition. In order to capture your share of this market and cement your brand as one of the best plant-based food brands, it’s essential that your marketing strategies are lined up for success.
This article outlines 7 plant-based marketing strategies that will bring results to your future campaigns.
1. Improve your brand messaging
Words matter. In the growing market of plant-based food brands, there are a ton of different labels you can put on your products to describe what you offer. Plant-based, vegan, animal-free, cruelty-free, meat-free, meatless, dairy-free… the list goes on and on.
You’ll need to know your customer well in order to optimize your brand’s messaging. But more importantly, it’s important to understand the psychology behind using certain words on your plant-based products. For example, using “meat-free” has statistically underperformed virtually every other label. Psychologically, “meat-free” sends a signal to customers that your product is missing something, and people are always looking to avoid losing out on something, so they’ll avoid your products.
Here’s a chart that shows the results a restaurant in Truro, England got from testing different product names:
In addition, the word “vegan” conjures up a feeling of tribalism. People who aren’t vegan themselves will be turned off from buying products that say “vegan” on them because the product is advertising something that they’re not.
Again, the better you know your core customers, the better you’ll be able to communicate your message effectively. This article provides a great breakdown of the different ways you can structure your messaging to reach your audience in the plant-based food market.
2. Evaluate your product-market fit before investing in paid ads
It’s important to ask yourself some key questions before investing in paid ads:
- What does the demand for plant-based food options look like in my sector?
- How can I make sure that my plant-based products and services meet my customers’ needs?
- How can I strategically develop profitable, long-term relationships with customers?
Being able to answer these questions confidently is essential to understanding your product-market fit. It’s easy to invest a ton of money into a paid ads strategy and expect the results to come in. But without a great product-market fit, there’s no way to make a paid ads strategy work. Period.
Here’s a great chart that illustrates how to ensure you have a solid product-market fit:
As you can see, your brand’s value proposition should fit right in with the underserved needs of your target customer. This isn’t just essential for your plant-based advertising initiatives, it’s the foundation of any successful brand. Without this, you could be pouring money into developing products that will ultimately fail.
When you achieve a strong product-market fit, you’re essentially creating a core group of customers who will advocate for your brand on their own. Word of mouth is still an incredibly powerful marketing tool (more on this below) – especially in today’s digital age.
Then once you add paid digital advertising on top of that, that’s when you’ll really be able to become one of the top plant-based food brands in the world.
3. Be omnipotent (invest in multiple ads platforms)
Not all ad platforms are created equal and no one ad platform will be the secret to your success. Today, people are using multiple social platforms every day. Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest… each have a unique audience and offer their own ways of reaching the global plant-based foods market.
Diversifying your marketing strategy across different ad platforms provides a few key benefits:
Increased Brand Visibility
The more platforms you market on, the larger the audience you reach. That’s because you’re reaching different groups of people on each one. Advertising is a numbers game at the end of the day, so cast your net as wide as you can.
Increased Consumer Trust
Although it sounds simple, repetition builds trust. This is why you see major corporations like Apple and Coca-Cola everywhere. They’re cementing in the customer psyche that they’re powerful, reputable companies that are here to stay.
The same principle applies to the plant-based foods market. The more often people come in contact with your brand, the better.
Using more ad platforms in your strategy ensures that if one of them goes sideways, the others can pick up the slack and still provide a strong ROI. You can think of this as diversifying your assets. If you put all your money into one company, you can lose everything if that company fails. Spread out your digital marketing strategy across all of the major ad platforms to get the biggest reach and ROI over the long run.
4. Don’t Look For Profit With Digital Ads – Invest More and Break Even
This is a trap you don’t want to fall into. Profiting from your ads will ultimately make your brand less competitive in the plant-based foods market.
Successful major brands design their digital ad strategies to break even on the front-end to achieve their maximum growth potential. This is because if you take profit and another brand doesn’t, it means they’re spending more on ads and acquiring more customers in the process. And in a competitive niche like the plant-based foods market, you can be left behind fast.
Successful major brands create multiple campaigns that are properly customized and targeted for specific groups of users – that’s how you easily improve your site’s engagement rate across the board. With the help of remarketing, your brand will strengthen its footprint in the plant-based foods market and become more recognizable for your current and future customers.
Return on ad spend (ROAS) goes down as your ad spend increases. So there’s a sweet spot to hit where you break even in the front-end, reach the maximum point of customer acquisition, and profit in the back-end with email marketing, customer rewards, and other tactics.
5. Monetize the Back-End for Profits
Digital ads may get more eyes on your brand, but your back-end is where the magic happens. This is where you actually should profit and indoctrinate new customers.
Once again, content is king here. By building back-end engagement streams like top-notch email sequences, weekly newsletters, and rewards programs, you’ll create a brand ecosystem that people are continually drawn back to.
Email is one of the best ways to monetize your brand and drive increased ROI from your ad campaigns. Here are a few tips:
- Segment your email list for precise targeting
Tailoring specific messaging for subsets of your target audience is a great way to increase engagement and sales. Despite an interest in your brand, your customers aren’t all the same. For example, you can segment them by age, location, or past engagement with your brand. This allows you to create highly-targeted content that is more relevant and more likely to garner a response.
- Focus on Email Timing
Sending emails out at midnight is a surefire way to end up in the trash bin. When it comes to email, timing is super important. Always track your open and click-through rates so you can dial in when your engagement is highest throughout the day. This article provides a great overview of the best times/days to start with.
- Test, Analyze, & Optimize
Don’t assume that you’re going to knock it out of the park on your first email campaign. Every piece of marketing material that you publish should be analyzed to ensure that you’re getting the results you’re after. Marketing is an iterative process. Over time, you’ll learn what works and be able to hone in your messaging to drive up your ROI across the board.
6. Leverage the back-end for brand awareness
Similar to how you can monetize your back-end to maximize your profit, you can also leverage it to increase your brand awareness. And again, increased brand exposure is the name of the game. The more eyes get on your brand, the more sales you’ll pull in.
So, how can leverage the back-end for increased brand awareness? One of the best ways is to maximize your social media presence and get your core audience to promote your brand for you.
That means creating content that’s engaging, interesting, and that actually warrants a share. When people share your social media content with their friend circles, it has significantly more impact than regular paid ads. People trust their friends and family more than anything – especially when it comes to products. This is the power of word of mouth advertising.
Something else to focus on is bringing in the right influencers to your email list, and having them promote your plant-based food brand to their circle of followers. Although they’re not actually friends with most of their followers, if they are respected and trusted, people will act on their recommendations. However, you must be careful that whoever you contact to represent your brand embodies your brand in their personality, communication style, and audience.
7. Don’t pull guilt-trips
As a plant-based brand, you don’t want to head out into the market and create enemies. Be cooperative and accept the lifestyle and habits of people who aren’t plant-based. If you attack them you might attract a subset of passionate vegans to your brand, but you’ll also be alienating a large portion of your customer base in the process.
Instead, always focus on the value that your products can bring to people’s lives as opposed to animals or the planet. You want to sell people on the health benefits of your products and the experience that they’ll get from buying them. Once they make a purchase, that’s when you reinforce the big-picture initiative behind your brand to provide them a sense of reward that will make them buy again.
Whether you’re advocating for animal rights, ethical harvesting, or a healthier climate, every purchase will make a difference in the world and your customers, ultimately, will want to know about it. But guilting people into engaging with your brand is not the way to go. Stick to your values, create fantastic products, and people will be continuously drawn to your brand.
As a plant-based food brand in a fast-growing niche, it can certainly feel like a challenge to make your brand stand out amongst the crowd. That said, these 7 marketing strategies will get you results if you use them effectively.
But if you’d prefer to leave it to the experts, partnering with a green marketing agency like Viera Media can help you dial in your marketing strategy and hit all your growth targets.