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What's in a Name? Out with 'Vegan' & 'Plant-Based,' In with 'Climate Friendly' & 'Carbon Neutral

In food marketing, the terminology used on labels can significantly influence consumer choices. A recent study, from the Journal of Environmental Psychology confirms this and has brought to light intriguing insights with far-reaching implications for products labeled as 'plant-based' and 'vegan.' This research indicates a marked consumer preference for items labeled as "climate friendly" and "carbon neutral," with these terms proving more enticing than the traditional "vegan" or "plant-based" labels.

PFN Ai - Product labeling graphic

Source: PFN Ai & Graphics - What's in and whats out?

The study’s findings suggest potential consumer confusion when it comes to understanding what exactly 'vegan' and 'plant-based' mean. While 'vegan' is generally understood to mean devoid of all animal products, 'plant-based' can often include diets that primarily focus on plants but may also incorporate limited amounts of animal products. This ambiguity might explain why fewer participants chose items labeled 'vegan' (20%) or 'plant-based' (27%) compared to those labeled as 'healthy' (42%) or 'sustainable' (43%).

These insights are pivotal for food marketers who aim to reach the broadest audience. For meat-eaters, the study suggests that vegan-related terms might even be a turn-off, as this group is generally more motivated by health or environmental benefits rather than ethical concerns. Conversely, for committed vegans, the precision of labeling is critical to ensure products they choose align with their dietary ethics.

As the study suggests, the success of a product may hinge not just on its quality or price, but increasingly on how well its labeling resonates with the values and priorities of different consumer groups.

PFN Ai - Customers making healthy product selections

Source: PFN Ai - Customers making healthy product selections

For instance, a health-conscious consumer might be swayed more by a product labeled as "low in cholesterol" rather than "vegan," highlighting the need for marketers to tailor their messages. Similarly, environmentally aware shoppers might prefer products branded as "carbon-neutral" over simply "plant-based." This dynamic suggests a deep dive into the demographic and psychographic profiles of a target market could yield significant dividends in crafting labels that not only inform but also engage and persuade.

This research throws light on the importance of understanding who the target consumer is, delving into their beliefs, traditions, and motivations. The choice of labeling can either connect with or alienate potential customers. As 'new food' companies continue to adapt and evolve, refining how they label their products could be key to tapping into different segments of the market effectively, thereby enhancing consumer trust and broadening appeal.

For more information on the study CLICK HERE



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