Consumption of meat has been an integral part of people’s diets for millennia. It is included in nearly all cuisines worldwide and serves as the basis for many famous dishes. However, nowadays people pay more attention to their health, looking for possible ways of improving it through changes in diet. In addition, vegetarianism has acquired many followers worldwide, which is why there is a demand for meat substitutes. Plant-based meat allows people to follow their preferred lifestyle without completely giving up on dishes they may like. In order to respond to the demand, a range of companies produce such kinds of meat substitutes. Good Foods, S.A., is looking to enter this market but is not sure whether there is enough room to make this enterprise profitable. The purpose of this paper is to propose an efficient research instrument for the company to assess the plantbased meat market.
The 21st century has seen a significant increase in terms of health and wellness product popularity, which includes meat substitutes. In fact, nowadays people tend to change their eating habits for a variety of reasons. First of all, health is the primary incentive for those who stop consuming some products, including meat. While, for some people, it may be a matter of choice to pursue a healthier lifestyle, others have to do so due to physical conditions forcing them to pick a different diet. Vegetarianism and veganism have seen a surge in popularity worldwide in recent years. According to Cruchet, Lucero, and Cornejo (2016, para. 8), “in Europe, around 2-5% of the population is vegetarian and in the United States, 2% of teenagers follow this type of diet, with 0.5% of them being vegan.” Additionally, The American Association of Nutritionists has concluded that thoroughly researched and designed “vegan, lacto-vegetarian and ovo-lactovegetarian diets are appropriate for any stage of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation” (Cruchet, Lucero and Cornejo, 2016, para. 9). Therefore, there is a variety of reasons to opt for a meat-substitute diet, both objective and subjective.
Besides their influence on the human body, food habits have a global impact on the scale of the entire planet. Michel, Hartmann, and Siegrist (2020, para. 1) state that “the food sector is responsible for up to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.” Moreover, animal farming causes a range of other environmental issues while contributing to climate change in general. As for other repercussions, it often entails poor living conditions for the animals, which is detrimental to their health. The reasons mentioned above have had a considerable impact on the popularity of vegetarianism and veganism in the age of globalization.
On the other hand, meat has remained one of the most consumed products until nowadays. In fact, researchers state that meat was one of the key factors contributing to the evolution and survival of the human race (He et al., 2020). According to He et al. (2020, para. 1), there has been a 58% increase in the demand for meat worldwide, and the market is expected to grow by 15% more by the year 2027. Nevertheless, the 21st century is characterized by rapid globalization, which includes information exchange. Some people opt for diets that exclude meat, but many of them search for a way to continue consuming this popular product without harming the environment and their own health. Accordingly, scientific progress is rapid, and researchers try to respond to the growing demand for meat substitutes. He et al. (2020) state that nowadays there are many attempts to provide consumers with non-animal protein-based meat products, but culture-based meat and plantbased meat are the most successful types. As the number of people willing to stop consuming actual meat grows, this area of study has seen an increase in both attention and resources.
Plant-based meat production has come a long way in order to meet the customers’ needs. According to He et al. (2020), early attempts at creating meat substitutes were well accepted by vegetarians, but the majority of the audience were not satisfied with neither products’ appearance nor taste. Accordingly, a new generation of plant-based meat was developed and introduced in recent years. These products have a meat-like texture, but they are also characterized by an incredible level of similarity in terms of taste, smell, and appearance. The newest generation of plant-based meat has been quite successful, which is why Good Foods, S.A., may achieve success with an adequate approach to marketing and research.
Appropriate Research Design
In order to launch a successful campaign, the company needs to obtain relevant data regarding the target audience and its perception of the product, the current state of the market, and possible competition. First of all, the range of potential consumers of plant-based meat is broad and comprises several groups. Vegetarians and vegans form the most evident target audience of such products, and, as was mentioned above, their views continuously gain popularity in the 21st century. However, the potential audience of plant-based meat includes people with other opinions regarding meat consumption.
In general, the public demonstrates a mixed perception of plant-based meat substitutes. According to Michel, Hartmann, and Siegrist (2020), there are significant barriers that prevent more people from opting for meat alternatives. The research showed that actual meat evoked positive associations in the respondents’ minds, whereas mentions of plant-based meat substitutes had overall negative reactions (Michel, Hartmann and Siegrist, 2020). In addition, He et al. (2020) confirm that most consumers refuse to consider a transition to plant-based diet. It is possible that such views were caused by the first generation of meat substitutes, as those products were primarily aimed at vegans and vegetarians. Therefore, previous products did not have the objective of completely recreating actual meat in terms of texture, smell, taste, and appearance. Nowadays, advanced substitutes are barely distinguishable from meat, but old views formed by the previous generation of products still remain.
As a matter of fact, informing the public about the latest advancements in meat substitute development and production should be an important element of the marketing campaign. Therefore, an explanatory model seems appropriate in the case of Good Foods, as it is vital to let the potential audience know the particularities of the offered product. He et al. (2020) suggest a similar approach, consisting of a considerable amount of social education. In other words, the purpose of the campaign’s first stages would be to raise the public’s awareness of meat substitute’s benefits. The correct way would be to connect the product to particular health aspects showcasing the advantages of reduced meat consumption.
However, in order to launch the campaign, the company needs to gather relevant information concerning its potential audience. As mentioned above, the overall percentage of positive views toward meat alternatives is small. Furthermore, endorsement and acceptance of a product do not necessarily translate into its actual consumption. Spoken differently, while many people recognize the benefits of plantbased meat and its importance in terms of environmental impact, they may not be eager to opt for it entirely. On the other hand, views may shift from one market to another. Bryant et al. (2019) state that an online questionnaire revealed a significantly higher acceptance rate of meat substitutes in India and China in comparison to the United States. Moreover, the public’s opinions may vary within a single market, depending on age, sex, and social groups. Therefore, it is important to focus on discerning particular market groups and arranging them based on their views on meat alternatives.
As discussed earlier, the audience of meat substitutes, including plant-based products, is highly varied. Ideally, each company dreams of encompassing the entire market, including all demographics. Nevertheless, different social groups are characterized by their particular interests, opinions, and habits. In the case of Good Foods, the research must provide a comprehensive understanding of the nature of their target audience, as it will determine whether the project will be viable at all. Additionally, the direction of future marketing campaigns will depend on the preliminary research results.
Historically, meat substitute production was primarily aimed at vegetarians and people who cannot consume meat for the reasons of medical or religious nature. While those groups remain a significant portion of the market, recent years have demonstrated a surge in the wellness lifestyle popularity. It concerns a variety of aspects and includes eating habits, as well. Following modern trends, some meat alternative producers have reoriented their marketing approach to encompass people who prefer wellness products. Nevertheless, Michel, Hartmann, and Siegrist (2020) say that meat substitutes are still widely associated with vegetarianism. Therefore, the research for “Good Foods” should be specific enough to reflect the views of the actual target audience.
At the same time, while it is important to make the research objective and comprehensive, it must also be accurate and efficient. It is suggested that the survey should focus on several groups demonstrating a higher probability of purchasing the product. As a matter of fact, vegetarians are expected to show a high level of support for the future product, but their lifestyle suggests a long history of meat alternative consumption leading to strong habits. Therefore, while vegans and vegetarians will respond positively to the very idea of a new meat substitute type, they are less likely to become active consumers of the new brand. On the other hand, since Good Foods looks to promote its new product in relation to a wellness lifestyle, it may be useful to concentrate on consumers who are not vegetarian but consider a healthier diet. In addition, the new brand might attract environmentally aware people willing to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, vegetarian-oriented companies have been on the market for a considerable amount of time and may serve as a competitive disadvantage for Good Foods.
As far as the sample size is concerned, it should be large enough to comprise many variables, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and education. The purpose of the research is to examine existing tendencies within particular communities Good Foods might aim at. At the same time, sample groups that currently demonstrate high levels of opposition to meat substitutes may be excluded from the survey to optimize the process. In other words, the research should focus on drawing its own conclusion in relation to specific communities, while taking into account existing data in order to increase efficiency. Research conducted by Van Loo, Caputo, and Lusk (2020) showed that there was a connection between demographics and opinions toward meat alternatives. In fact, “vegetarians, males, younger, and more highly educated individuals tend to have relatively stronger preferences for the plant- and lab-grown alternatives” (Van Loo, Caputo and Lusk, 2020, para. 37). As mentioned above, vegetarians tend to have existing meat substitute eating habits. Therefore, the research sample should primarily consist of educated individuals between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five expressing an interest in the wellness lifestyle and environment protection.
Data Collection Form
As for the form of data collection, a questionnaire seems to be a fitting format for the task. First of all, there must be several points regarding the respondents’ personal information. It is suggested that this section should include the individual’s age, sex, education, occupation, and location. At the same time, it is not required to provide the name, as anonymity allows for more sincere responses and objective results. Secondly, it is important to analyze the respondents’ eating habits. It is suggested that the next section of the questionnaire should use a response scale from 1 (never or no) through 10 (always or yes). Therefore, all the questions must be phrased accordingly, specifying the frequency of action or level of conviction:
- How often do you eat meat?
- How often do you consider giving up meat?
- How often do you consider pursuing a vegetarian lifestyle?
- Do you consider your eating habits healthy?
- Would you eat a plant-based product similar to meat in terms of smell, taste, and appearance?
As far as the third section is concerned, its purpose will be to attract the respondents’ attention to the benefits of a wellness lifestyle and plant-based meat alternatives. Additionally, it will highlight the importance of the matter in terms of the environment, animal welfare, and human health. It is put after the section dealing with the eating habits in order to provide honest answers to the previous questions:
- How often do you think about the environment?
- Do you consider yourself an environmentally aware person?
- Do you know about animal farming’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions?
- How often do you worry about your health?
- How do you consider a wellness lifestyle?
- Do you know about the excessive red meat consumption implications for the human body?
Following the questionnaire, relevant audience representatives might be offered to discuss the matter. It is important to note that the campaign should not aim at encouraging people to give up meat completely. The idea is to attract potential customers who are interested in a healthier or environmentally aware lifestyle while not being ready to become vegetarian. It is suggested that the Good Food products should complement people’s current diets rather than fully replace meat. This way, the campaign will not be deemed aggressive from the public’s perspective.
As Good Foods looks to enter the market of wellness products, it is important to conduct preliminary research of the potential audience. Despite the increase of plant-based meat substitutes’ popularity, the vast majority of consumers still prefer actual meat. While vegetarians seem like an obvious choice for the survey’s target audience, their purchasing intentions may not include this particular product due to existing habits. Therefore, it is recommended that the company should focus on wellness-oriented and environmentally aware consumers, who may add the new product to their menu. The suggested research will provide Good Foods with an understanding of the market’s current state and let the management determine the further plan of action.
Bryant, C. et al. (2019) ‘A survey of consumer perceptions of plant-based and clean meat in the USA, India, and China’, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 3(11), pp. 37–56. Web.
Cruchet, S., Lucero, Y. and Cornejo, V. (2016) ‘Truths, myths and needs of special diets: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and vegetarianism’, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 68(1), pp. 43–50. Web.
He, J. et al. (2020) ‘A review of research on plant‐based meat alternatives: Driving forces, history, manufacturing, and consumer attitudes’, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 19(5), pp. 2639–2656. Web.
Michel, F., Hartmann, C. and Siegrist, M. (2020) ‘Consumers’ associations, perceptions, and acceptance of meat and plant-based meat alternatives’, Food Quality and Preference, 87. Web.
Van Loo, E. J., Caputo, V. and Lusk, J. L. (2020) ‘Consumer preferences for farmraised meat, lab-grown meat, and plant-based meat alternatives: does information or brand matter?’, Food Policy, 95, pp. 1–15. Web.