A multinational food producer wanted to understand whether the trend towards veganism and plant-based diets constituted a deep transformation in consumer preferences, or whether it was a passing phenomenon. There were only weak signals available to try to understand this: trendy cafes and blogs, celebrity endorsements and a strong presence on social media. Was this really representative of a deeper change? Was veganism worth investing in?
Our client wanted a more textured understanding of the trend towards vegan diets in Europe with a view to re-launching or re-positioning one of their major food brands within this trend. The aim of the research was to outline the nature and strength of this trend, and to tell a compelling story about the transformation in preferences and consumption that has occurred.
In order to craft this story, we undertook a comparative study of vegan trends across eight different countries in Europe. We delved into people’s reasons for becoming vegan and what had shaped their choices. In particular, we wanted to understand how closely this choice of diet was linked to a person’s overall identity, or whether it was merely a consumer preference. We drew on sociological studies and psychology to really understand what was driving people’s choices.
We deliberately chose to speak to people who had been vegan for a long time, as well as people who had recently converted to veganism, including those who are not normally associated with this lifestyle, such as young men. We uncovered many unexpected reasons for becoming vegan beyond ethical and health choices, for example due to family or social reasons. As such, we were able to build far more accurate profiles of vegans and determine what the likely future trends would be.
We were able to present our client with a much more nuanced understanding of what drove people to follow a vegan diet. This enabled them to plan strategically and develop a coherent narrative about the place of food in people’s lives. They also gained a better understanding of how diets and preferences were changing at a fundamental level and therefore to spot opportunities for the future of the business.