Did you know that emphasising taste or cooking techniques in the name of a plant-based dish can dramatically increase sales compared to calling the same item “meat-free” or “vegetarian”?
Health behaviours researchers on the LEAP team are developing behavioural interventions to encourage people to make more environmentally sustainable food choices. As part of this research, we organised a workshop on 29th October 2019 with industry partners to share insights and hear from companies about the challenges of naming plant-based foods. The session was a partnership with the Better Buying Lab (BBL), an initiative of the World Resources Institute. Co-op, IKEA and M&S as well as a representative from the Food Foundation gathered at the London headquarters for the advertising agency, Mother, where Jonathan Wise from the BBL led industry partners through five creative naming exercises. Each company focussed on 1-2 new or existing products.
Previous insight from BBL has shown that there are effective strategies for naming. For example, it is important to not use terms that highlight what a plant-based product is lacking, such as “meat-free” or “low-fat”. It is also important to highlight that plant-based products are suitable for everyone, not just people who identify as vegan or vegetarian, so it is best to avoid using the words “vegan” or “vegetarian” in product names whenever possible if you’re targeting a mass audience. Instead, research has shown that using words that highlight where a product comes from, its flavour, and its appearance and texture all work to increase customer appeal.
While company reps were slightly anxious at first about being there with their competition, very quickly everyone was sharing insights and frustrations. The attendees generated 12 – 15 creative names for each plant-based dish brought forward to the event, using a visual display of post-it notes to help refine their list of names to their top 2 or 3 favourites.