Snacking could be the future for plant-based and vegan eating

verj - plant-based eating

New Comparative Linguistics Analysis (CLA) research from innovative research agency VERJreveals the tribal differences between veganism and plant-based eating in the context of a world increasingly focused on more sustainable eating.

The research report explores the consumer psychology underpinning shifts towards alternative eating, and is coupled with insights from leading FMCG brands in the space. 

VERJ research

To investigate this, VERJ performed CLA on millions of words, such as ‘protein’ and ‘calories’, that were identified from specific social media conversations on sustainable eating between consumers. 

The research has enabled VERJ to gain insight into present and future behaviours, thoughts and trends of vegan and plant-based consumers.

The key findings include:

  • Snack attack: Snacks (‘candy’, ‘cookies’ and ‘chocolate’) were 2.2 times more likely to be mentioned in vegan/plant-based social commentary in the last six months compared to six months prior. Increased time spent at home and closer proximity to the snack cupboard could be to blame for this rise.
  • Plant-based lifestyle linked to wellbeing: People were more likely to choose a plant-based lifestyle because of wellbeing, health and motivation, compared to vegan-based online comments. Additionally, ‘calories’ and ‘body weight’ were also more likely (2.6 times and 3.1 times respectively) to be mentioned when people talked about plant-based eating.
  • Plant-based eating seen as a change: The term ‘transitioning’ was 3.3 times more likely to be mentioned in posts about plant-based than vegan eating.
  • Looks matter in plant-based diets: The term ‘looks’ was 3 times more likely to be referenced in plant-based commentary than vegan commentary. This indicates the aesthetics of food is a concern for plant-based audiences due to the pivotal role it plays in transitioning to their new lifestyle.

The research findings, coupled with VERJ expertise, indicated two routes to success for brands in the growing sector:

  1. Jump on the snack-wagon. Capitalise on the increased appetite for sustainable eating options and snacks by appealing to the wider benefits of vegan/plant-based snacks.
  2. Double down on the vegan identity: Brands should get a better understanding of the vegan identity. Pushing counter-culture themes with big, bold, and rebellious campaigns/packaging will no doubt support the power of the social identity brand.

Max Wiggins, Insight and Innovation Lead at VERJ said: “Our report has allowed us to analyse what social commentary can tell us about the differences between plant-based and vegan eating and how brands can be influenced by the growth in this market and what these consumers are looking for. 

“The findings clearly show that brands can’t just jump on the back of hot topics, they need to better understand and support their green eating customers and connect to their ethos. 

“By doing this, they can attract new customers.”

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