Feed: measuring the evolution in meal replacement drinks

Veganism has grown in popularity in the last few years reaching 2% of the UK population in 2018. However, this is not the main factor determining market growth in meat-free products. 22% of Vypr’s consumer community currently consists of self-described meat-reducers, i.e. people making a conscious effort to reduce their meat consumption. An increasing number of new launches in meat substitutes and plant-based food aims to satisfy this demand.

Feed, an all vegan meal substitute brand, has launched a range of on-the-go drinks, marketed as complete meals, with ready-to-drink and just-add-water options. The latter has been included in a trial run aimed at millennials, in which 69 Sainsbury’s stores are presenting edgy new products such as salmon skin crisps and alcoholic kombucha.

Feed’s meal replacement drink targets on-the-go, active consumers and is “neither a dietary nor an energising product”. According to marketing literature, it is a vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, and GM-free alternative of a regular meal, developed with chefs and nutritionists. We asked a subset of our consumer community, comprising vegans, vegetarians and meat reducers, whether they would buy this product.

A little under 54% of these consumers answered positively but what stood out from the data is that the ratio increased to over 66% when looking at just male respondents. Below is the result from a steer, asking 240 male vegetarian, vegan and meat reducer consumers whether they would buy the drink:

This result provides an interesting insight into the target market with ramifications for the way the product could be branded more effectively. Along with tailoring the product towards the targeted gender we found flavour preferences important, especially as the brand highlights indulgence as a key attribute of its products. Using a multi-answer steer, we tested consumers’ propensity to buy towards the existing flavours in the just-add-water range, being particularly interested to see how sweet and savoury options compare:

Clearly the sweet options are seen as more attractive in the UK market despite the originality of the savoury options, which are reminiscent of soups. Savoury meal flavours could benefit the positioning of a meal replacement product as a lunch option, however, this seems unlikely to be successful in the UK. Despite this we attempted to gain insight on the most likely meal occasion. For the purpose we asked 505 meat reducer, vegetarian and vegan consumers, whether they would have the drink for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, allowing them to select more than one option:

The results came back in favour for lunch as the most popular occasion to consume the meal replacement drink. In view of this finding, the savoury options may have potential despite their low score in the flavour test. Perhaps the product’s branding and packaging need to stress its gourmet credentials, especially when it comes to the savoury options.

Understanding consumer sentiment on all the variables of your product is vital to creating a compelling offering. Vypr can isolate the factors which help move the needle, optimising each aspect and getting you to better products, faster.

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