It comes as no surprise that during 2020 the online marketplace has continued to evolve and grow more rapidly than anyone could have ever predicted, with many traditionally offline industries also jumping on board.

And as quickly as the retail landscape is changing, so is the average consumer. It’s safe to say that any doubts around vegan-ism being a ‘trend’ have been put to rest - 2019 was declared ‘the year of the vegan’, and the number of people switching to plant-based continues to rise.

Millennials choosing to give up meat and animal by-products are indeed leading this movement,  but veganism is growing in popularity across the board. Even Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has become the first monarch to stop using real fur - further proof that conscious consumerism is here to stay.

Biological and vegan businesses are no longer small players in the marketplace. In reality, vegan businesses such as Alpro and Beyond Burger are giving traditional FMCG brands a real run for their money. As the pull of plant-based power continues to rise, brands need to stand out from the crowd more than ever before. Different measures need to be taken to get the consumers attention, and having a solid brand strategy is imperative for success.

Gone are the days of the tree-hugging vegan hippie stereotype - plant-based consumers can no longer be classified as the one target audience. These are the four key vegan consumer groups that we see in the marketplaces for brands to consider, based on our experience and knowledge of the industry.

VEGAN PURISTS

There’s no doubt about this consumer group; they are proudly vegan, and they are passionate about making the world a better place. 

Plant-based Purists deeply connect with the label of ‘vegan’, they are highly informed on the environmental, ethical and health benefits of not consuming animal products. They are extremely conscious of all of their purchases and tend to avoid buying replacement products that contain a high amount of additives or chemicals. Whilst they do this to reap the health benefits of a vegan diet, their motivations tend to come more from a place of ethical and/or sustainability considerations. 

Brands who want to appeal to this consumer group need to make sure that they’ve done their homework - they need to be confident that no stone has been left unturned when their product is developing because the Plant-based Purists can often be the harshest critics. To appeal to this group we recommend a strategy that communicates your contribution to a better future intelligently and effectively, and make this information easy to access.

WELNESS WARRIORS

The Wellness Warriors are also strictly vegan, but their motivations can be quite different from plant-based purists. This group of people are extremely committed to their health; they start their day early with meditation or exercise, they take good care of their diet and they’re always keeping up to date with the latest wellness protocols and products. 

Wellness Warriors genuinely love moving their body and consuming products that they know are good for them. The choice to become vegan comes quite naturally - they’ve done the research, and that’s enough to convince them it’s the best decision for their longevity. But unlike their more socially-conscious counterparts, their motivations come from a somewhat self-centric place.

So what does this mean for businesses? Messaging around the environmental and ethical benefits of a product may go unnoticed with this group - focus on the health (or even weight loss) benefits for these consumers instead.

PLANT-BASED VISIONARIES

Vegan-ish Visionaries are more often than not vegetarians who are trialling an entirely plant-based diet or consumers who eat plant-based for the majority of their meals (for example, Monday to Friday). 

Ideally, this consumer group will always go for the most ethical choice - but their willpower isn’t as strong as the previous two groups. Their motivations can be a mix of ethical, environmental and wellness, leaning to the side of having a well-intentioned social conscience. However, they struggle to commit to switching over completely and sometimes consume products that go against their values (without even realising). 

To appeal to this target group, brands should think about how they can decide to choose ethically as easy as possible. Clear use of language and bold packaging can be quite impactful, as well as highly visual advertising campaigns.

CURIOUS CONSUMERS

Veganism is a trend that Curious Consumers have heard about and are willing to try. They may have signed up for Veganuary, or another plant-based challenge, and are open to the idea of making dietary and lifestyle changes.

This consumer group tends to be foodies and love experimenting with new flavours. They have grown up eating meat and never put much thought into their choices, but are now becoming aware of the reasons why to live cruelty-free. If they are honest with themselves, they are apprehensive that they will feel satisfied with only consuming entirely plant-based meals, but they already love to choose the vegetarian burger option based on their taste preference. 

Like the Vague Vegans, it’s important to grab this consumer group's attention when choosing in the supermarket aisle. In addition to this, influencer marketing and PR could be an interesting area of focus to introduce your brand as a ‘tried and trusted’ product.