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A comprehensive study published in Business Strategy and the Environment by Suzannah Gerber, Sadie R. Dix, and Sean B. Cash, examines the marketing strategies of plant-based foods (PBFs) versus animal-sourced foods (ASFs) in the online grocery market in the United States.

“Online retailers exert enormous influence over food marketing and the communication of information about our foods”

The research meticulously analyzed over 16,000 marketing and labeling content observations from seven leading US e-commerce grocery retailers, focusing on top-selling ASFs and closely matched PBFs. The study’s findings reveal several key insights that could significantly influence marketing strategies and regulatory considerations within the food industry.

It found PBFs to be more robustly marketed, with an average of 47 claims per product compared to 28 for ASFs, demonstrating a focused effort on promoting product benefits both online and on packaging. PBFs tend to emphasize sustainability and health benefits, catering to consumer values around environmental stewardship and personal wellness, while ASFs more frequently utilize emotional appeals and largely omit sustainability claims.

The research also found that PBFs more effectively adhered to regulatory standards, particularly in allergen disclosures, indicating a more disciplined marketing approach and a higher commitment to consumer safety.

Beyond meat beef crumbles
© Beyond Meat

Significantly, the study observed that plant-based burgers are marketed in the widest variety of ways, aiming to appeal to a broader consumer base. It also found a difference in how these burgers are marketed online compared to their packaging in stores, with a stronger emphasis on online marketing. This suggests that companies are focusing more on reaching customers through digital channels.

Challenges and opportunities

The lack of standardization in online information was noted as a challenge, yet it also presents opportunities for brands to distinguish themselves through clearer, more consistent marketing narratives. The analysis pointed out the influential role of marketing in shaping consumer preferences, especially under the growing demand for products that align with health and environmental values. It also highlighted regulatory gaps in the digital marketing of health and sustainability claims, suggesting these could undermine consumer trust and safety if not addressed.

Gerber shared her insights on social media: “Online retailers exert enormous influence over food marketing and the communication of information about our foods. Retailers, not just manufacturers, present consumers with sustainability and health product marketing elements but have been observed to unevenly present food safety, nutritional, and sustainability information. The lack of standardization and regulation for online food retail may result in confusion or mistrust of product information.”

Find the full research article here.

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شركة النمر هي شركة متخصصة في تصميم وادارة المواقع الالكترونية والارشفة وكتابة المحتوى والتسويق الالكتروني وتقدم العديد من خدمات حلول المواقع الالكترونية والتطبيقات وهي شركة رسمية ومسجلة منذ عام 2015.

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