Marketing to the vegan and plant-based customer – it’s a ball of vegan wax these days, isn’t it?
It requires new, innovative, improved approaches. The old way of doing things does not work anymore because customers are smarter, expect more, and especially, want a personal touch.
According to “Study Shows a 3rd of World Population Follow a Diet Based on Reduction or Elimination of Meat in Vegconomist from Aug 28, 2020, “A total of 11% of global consumers are vegetarian, 20% are flexitarian, and 3% identify as vegan.” That means you can’t assume all your customers will fit into one mold.
Every marketer knows it’s a mistake to assume all customers are the same. Any company knows the best way to sell their products is to know their customer inside and out. In addition to demographics, age, sex, and basic likes and dislikes, you must know their spending habits, where they hang out online, their goals, aspirations, needs, wants, fears, and problems. Not all customers are alike. And, in the vegan or plant-based marketplace, reaching all types of customers is a challenge.
At any time, a pescatarian, a vegetarian, an omnivore, a meat-reductionist, a flexitarian, or a vegan could stumble upon your website. How do you reach all of these people? This can be quite the conundrum, right? Let’s explore this further.
You might sell plant-based food. Who are your customers? Your customers might be omnivores who want to improve their health and are looking to dabble in eating more plants, women who are vegetarians not concerned about eating dairy, or flexitarians or reducetarians who are gradually working towards eliminating meat products. You might have vegans stumble upon your website, who eat only plants because of ethical reasons. There are different types of potential customers who require different marketing campaigns.
But, stick with me. It gets even more complex.
Let’s say you sell ethically-sourced, vegan clothing. You care about sustainability, eliminating animal exploitation, and harm to the environment. It is important to your company’s mission that animals were not harmed creating the clothing you sell. Your primary customers are vegans, those who will buy from you because they care about ethical sourcing and animal welfare. What do you do if a non-vegan stumbles upon your website? Does your branding voice include all people who might land on your home page? Or, are you marketing only to vegans?
“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.” — Dharmesh Shah, CTO & Co-Founder, HubSpot
4 Keys to Understanding the Customer’s Everyday-Journey to Veganism
Know your audience and customer
Primary research is important before creating the content needed to attract your ideal customers.
This is obvious and marketing 101. You must know who your audience is and the type of customers you want to attract and know them well before writing a word of content or buying Google ads for your business. There are many different ways to research your customer, and I will not cover all of them here. Conducting social listening, performing keyword research, and running focus groups is a good place to start.
Understand your customers are on different paths
Not all customers are alike. That is obvious, but let’s explore.
Let’s say you are a vegan business owner who sells vegan muffins and scones for ethical reasons: you want to end animal suffering. Who do you sell to? Primarily to vegans, but you will also have vegetarians, flexitarians, and carnivores perusing your website or storefront. Even though you might care deeply about the plight of animals, not every person who buys your scones will.
If you market primarily to vegans on your website, what happens when a carnivore lands on your home page? Do you want them to buy your muffins? Do you want them to know there is such a thing as cruelty-free muffins? This is where you need to create content that will resonate with as many types of customers who might run across your site. You also need to give that type of customer a way to understand animal suffering with content that will resonate with them.
How do you do this? A good idea is to provide a downloadable resource to help them understand animal exploitation and how your company sells vegan scones and muffins to help end this. You need to educate them. Marketing only to vegans is not enough. You must write content in a way that speaks to not only your audience but to OTHER potential customers. But, there is a caveat…
Understand your customer will change
Knowing customers will change their minds and spending habits and meeting them where they are is key to keeping them engaged and growing your business.
Using the same muffin and scones company example above, let’s say a plant-based customer comes into your store and buys scones. He is not vegan but plant-based; he mostly eats plants but partakes in meat or fish periodically to improve his health. His concern is not animal welfare. You sell him a scone and he loves it. He finds brochures at your café (or on your website) that explain how your company reduces the damaging animal-agricultural impact on the environment and the suffering of animals. He is intrigued.
He goes home and researches veganism. Appalled by what he reads about animal exploitation, he decides to go vegan. He has now changed. His reason for continuing to purchase scones from you has now changed. He is not a plant-based customer anymore because he now cares about the plight of animals in addition to his health. Would sending him an email about plant-based food make sense at this point? Wouldn’t sending emails about why he should continue to support a vegan company be more beneficial?
Create content that speaks to each customer and their journey to veganism
Prospects expect personal interaction these days.
It cannot be overstated that content needs to be created that speaks to and makes sense to the customer. If you have an email campaign that only speaks to vegetarians when your customers are now vegan, it will not be effective. The vegan will not respond to the message catered to the vegetarian.
The solution is to make sure your marketing campaigns from ads to landing pages, to blogs, to an email responder series speak to the needs and journey of your prospects or customers. Your company can sell to vegans, non-vegans, and omnivores, of course, but you have to create content to fully engage the potential customer and meet him where he is in his vegan journey. Do this, and you will successfully gain and retain customers.
“Don’t push people to where you want them to be; meet them where they are.” – Meghan Keaney Anderson Marketing, CMO, HubSpot
The global vegan industry is projected to grow to a staggering 74 billion by 2027. Is your company ready for this type of growth? Meeting people where they are, whether they are plant-based, vegetarian, flexitarian, reductionist, or vegan is important and demonstrates that you care. A potential customer needs to feel that you care about them before they even contemplate buying anything from you. You need to build trust with her, and you do this by creating content that speaks to her personally.
For successful selling of your products or services, know your customer, know his mind and spending habits might change and prepare for this, and set up marketing campaigns and content to meet his journey to veganism.
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