Sausage brand Heck made headlines recently when it announced it was reducing its meat-free range, with its founder claiming consumers were “not there yet” when it came to buying its vegan products. Some other plant-based businesses have also reported tough trading.
The Vegan Society has suggested a drop in sales is not a reflection of consumers rejecting vegan options but a change in people’s spending habits, with consumers replacing meat and meat-free substitutes with more budget-friendly vegan options.
Our GB TGI data indicates this may well be the case. The proportion of adults who say that they prefer vegan food and drink has remained relatively static at a steady 11% (just under 6 million adults) across the past three years.
In addition, sales of meat alternatives may have come under pressure recently, but consumers overall do not feel as though they’re buying less vegan-based food and drink. Indeed, the proportion of adults who claim to buy vegan food and drink ranges ‘regularly or occasionally’ has jumped slightly from 25% of adults last year to 29% today.
However, it is also true that those who claim to prefer vegan food and drink are more likely to feel they are struggling financially. They are 20% more likely than the average adult to say that they are finding it ‘very difficult’ to cope on their present income. This may explain a reluctance to splash out perhaps as much as they might have done previously on vegan ranges.
TGI reveals that those who prefer vegan food and drink are also particularly likely to be at the younger end of the age spectrum and in youth-led TGI lifestage groups. For example they are 98% more likely than the average adult to be ‘Nest Builders’ (aged 15-34, married/living as couple, do not live with son/daughter) and 88% more likely to be in ‘Flown The Nest’ (aged 15-34, not married/living as couple, do not live with relations).
Those who say they prefer vegan food and drink are particularly likely to engage with a range of media, including TV sponsorship, celebrity endorsements and magazines – offering a range of opportunities to engage them effectively.
Those who prefer vegan food and drink believe they can be very persuasive on a range of issues, not least the environment and healthy living, both of which they are far more likely than the average adult to believe they can convince others with their views.
Harnessing their word of mouth power could be very potent for marketers if they can successfully engage this audience.