Upper Ed: Lydia Howe, Founder, Bound to Prosper, on Pushing the Plant-Vegetarian Transition

Lydia Hoey is the founder of consumer PR firm Bound to Prosper. With 20 years of experience working with global brands, she now brings her expertise to bold and progressive brands and aims to help the plant-based industry grow and go mainstream.

Three ways the plant-based industry can help people change how they eat now and in the future

By Lydia Howe

Future generations are your future stakeholders.

My plant-based daughter only knows the words ‘milk’ and ‘meat’ when referring to plant-based versions. At seven years old he is growing up with a new set of semantics and ways of understanding what he perceives.

BBC Good Food research found that one in five, aged 5-15, say they are vegetarian or vegan-curious – this research shows that we have a generation that will shape how we consume in the future. Plant-based brands should be thinking about this new audience to help shape their strategy now.

But we’re failing this next generation of plant-based consumers every day – there’s a gaping hole for decent plant-based food in our school canteens despite good meat, milk and egg alternatives available. Just this week UK newspapers reported ‘Outrage over vegan school dinners… kids need dairy and meat’, Along with pictures of potatoes, rice and baked beans. This old information will only propagate if, as an industry, we do not change perceptions from below.


Plant-based brands need to build long-term brand equity by understanding what larger audiences need now and next, and not just short-term sales.

Opportunity to define ‘category rules’ on supermarket shelves

As a nutritionist parent, I need options that complement my repertoire of ‘traditional’ recipes. I’d like to see a grocer that carries the UK’s top 10 favorite family meals with simple, time-efficient plant-based ingredients that I can easily replicate.

Recent research shows that almost half of UK people want new food ideas and 46% have experimented with a plant-based diet but have been put off by a lack of tasty plant-based options (17%).

Mother with daughter in supermarket
Photo courtesy of Proveg International

As an industry, we constantly talk about taste and innovation, but that shouldn’t be divorced from the actual mealtime. It’s time to make supermarket shelves less confusing for shoppers to navigate plant-based with more in-store promotions and joint awareness campaigns to encourage trial. Plant-based needs include resources like meal plans, grocery lists and practical help for time-poor shoppers to address mid-week store disruptions when they’re most susceptible.

Let’s be an unapologetically confident category.

There is a lot of misinformation, and the plant-based industry is on the back foot, but it’s time for a change.

© Super Garden

Plant-based brands tend to lean toward three core messages.

  • As a direct replacement
  • As a more sustainable way of eating
  • As much as is good for your health

But strategic messaging will only do so much. What can make the difference to a brand’s success is a defined brand identity, which challenges traditional notions of what food should be – brands like Oatly and THIS do this very well.

The way we build trust among consumers is by being a confident category, building strong brands that people bond with.

Remember that people often restate their reason for buying something, it’s about giving them enough confidence to try it.

Source link