The Meatless Farm Co. targets key retailers and meat eaters

The plant-based food company is driving purchases by hitting flexitarians with messaging right outside grocery stores.

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Fewer people these days would snicker at the bumper sticker, “if God didn’t want us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?” Vegetarianism has transitioned from niche to mass, and the flexitarian/reducetarian lifestyle is looking like it has growing power too.

According to an Angus Reid survey conducted for U.K. plant-based brand The Meatless Farm Co, close to half (43%) of Canadians indicated they are more likely to make the switch to a flexitarian lifestyle, and another third (36%) expect to buy more plant-based products in the new year.

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This month, instead of simply doing traditional in-store displays, The Meatless Farm Co. kicked off a four-week outdoor campaign, displaying promotional posters in close proximity (500 metres) to key retailers in the GTA, including Loblaw, Superstore, Fortinos and Valu-Mart.

The company targeted best-selling stores in areas where the demographics over-index with its target market of families and millennials. A digital campaign is also running for four weeks, displaying paid promotions across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

The tagline “beyond the impossible,” is an overt reference to the competition, the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat. “We are aware that we are a challenger company to the big brands, and we relish this position as it allows us to be a bit cheeky and make bold statements,” says Meatless Farm’s international marketing manager, Jade Hawksworth.

Hawksworth tells strategy that the timing of the campaign is meant to capitalize on New Year’s resolutions to reduce meat consumption (read: Veganuary) and the desire to change lifestyle habits.  Hawksworth compares the plant-based category to the dairy-free beverage category, which now accounts for 10% to 15% of all milk sales – a significant market share that was achieved in a relatively short period of time.

meatless-4The Meatless Farm brand, she says, differentiates itself by not compromising on taste (also part of its messaging, see right) and by appealing to a wide variety of consumers – the majority of which are meat-eaters.

“We understand that to make a real impact in reducing red meat consumption, we need to speak to the masses,” Hawksworth says. “So, the ‘flexitarian’ or ‘reducetarian’ is our key customer.”

She says there is definitely still a perception for many that the taste is a barrier to enjoyment. However, “we continuously hear that consumers are surprised with how closely our products can emulate meat. That is why we’ve felt it’s important to mention taste in our messaging,” says Hawksworth.

She adds that the decision to place its products in the meat or the plant-based food aisle is an ongoing source of debate at The Meatless Farm Co.

“Dual location would be ideal – in both plant-based and in the meat fixture to allow both sets of consumers to be encouraged to purchase – but our vision is that we foresee a ‘protein aisle’ becoming home to all kinds of proteins, from animal to plant-based, to cell-grown,” Hawksworth says. She believes that one day the majority of consumers will be in the market for a mixture of proteins, but for now her team is looking to work with retailers on educating shoppers to help build the category.

The Meatless Farm doesn’t want to only be viewed as a meat alternative, but rather a meal option that consumers are excited about preparing and can get creative with, she says. “To drive real change, we know that consumers need to enjoy the food they eat,” Hawksworth says. “We are not a scary lab experiment, but a company that focuses on real food made for food-conscious people.”

In October, The Meatless Farm Co. made  its meat-free ground and burger products available in over 350 grocery, butcher and specialty food stores in Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland. It will soon unveil meat-free sausages to add to its product roster.

Deloitte Isaac produced all the creative aspects to this campaign. Thirty Dash is the AOR for the PR. UM handled the media buy.