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What To Call Plant-Based Meat Alternatives: A Labeling Study

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Participants rated how good each product label sounded to them and indicated how likely they were to buy it. The average person preferred the label vegan over plant-based and most other options.

JO ANDERSON: ‘Over the past few years, describing products as vegan has increasingly been considered a bad idea. For example, industry leaders have recommended that companies avoid using “v-words” on their meat-free products… The term “plant-based” has been widely adopted as an alternative to “vegan” and “vegetarian”. There are good theoretical reasons for this move: The term focuses on what a product contains rather than what it lacks, and it doesn’t have the baggage associated with veganism. However, not much research has examined the relative merits of the terms “plant-based” and “vegan”…

In this three-phase project, we started off by crowd-sourcing a list of potential terms for meat alternatives… The terms included options like direct protein, harmless, and eco. We also included vegan and plant-based. Participants rated how good each product label sounded to them and indicated how likely they were to buy it… These are the key findings: 1. The average person preferred the label vegan over plant-based (and most other options!), 2. Products targeting men, especially young men, should avoid these standard terms. By contrast, the label direct protein showed more promise with men, 3. Older adults like ‘zero cholesterol’.

The study shows that we need a range of strategies to appeal to a range of consumers. As the findings above suggest, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to labeling. For advocates, this means targeting your messages to specific groups. For marketers, as more and more companies manufacture animal product alternatives, they can target different niches. A wide range of strategies may be the best strategy’. SOURCE…

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