Flexible Flexitarianism

With the health, environmental and cost benefits of reducing meat consumption widely documented in the press and social media channels it is hardly surprising we are seeing more and more consumers identifying as ‘Flexitarians’. In the face of this growing demand, brands (established and new) are stepping up to the plate to offer more vegetarian and vegan choices. Looking at how quickly they respond and in what way can shed light on different innovation cultures and brands’ appetite for change…

On the one hand you have a brand like Bol with a dive in head first before anyone else kind of approach. Until a couple of months ago, the brand offered a selection of meat and veggie options, but in a bold move they have decided to completely reform their brand strategy and product offer. They are now on a mission to ‘make it easy for you busy folk to eat more plants’, whether you’re a meat eater or a vegan, with a single minded focus on the power of plants and delicious, accessible plant based products. It’s a clear statement of their belief that the Flexitarian trend is here to stay and that Bol is going to be at the front of that curve.

By contrast, the likes of Pret a Manger have decided to dip their toe in the water first, using pilot testing to gauge how successful innovation will be. Originally designed to be a pop-up, the veggie only concept store Pret launched last year has been such a success that they’ve already opened a second veggie store and stand out products have been rolled out across all stores. This piloting model has allowed them to open up their innovation to consumers for feedback and input, effectively co-creating their vegetarian offer and building confidence before launching permanent stores.

Whilst Bol and Pret have different approaches – dive in or toe first – what unites both brands is the agility they have shown in listening and responding to consumer needs. Flexitarianism is still emerging, and who knows how it’s set to develop in the future, but by responding now these brands are making sure that they stay ahead of the competition and tap into the current needs of their target audience as those needs evolve.

The Herd

03.11.17