In this battle of the brands, we’re taking a look into two vegan brands, Quorn and Beyond Meat. Which one will come out on top when we take a look at their digital presence? 

78 million of the world’s population is vegan and current data shows that this number continues to rise at an accelerated rate. What once was a relatively niche market, is now worth billions. But, with demand comes supply, in the form of many new brands popping up to cater to the growing industry. 

As a result, for brands like Quorn and Beyond Meat, making effective use of social media advertising is crucial. Why? So, they can reach new potential customers on social platforms and stay ahead of the new brands entering the market!

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Why is the meat substitute industry growing?

People go veggie for all sorts of reasons, ranging from personal health, animal welfare, and environmental rationales. All of which are completely valid!

What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the global environment.

Dr Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food

The correlation of going meat-free and animal welfare doesn’t require any explanation.

Healthwise, going vegan or vegetarian can lead to reduced body weight, lower cholesterol, and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Back in 2019, a documentary, named The Game Changers, was released on Netflix highlighting the benefits of a vegan diet from a variety of athletes’ perspectives. For years, marketing drove the idea that meat leads to strength and muscle gain. So, it came as a huge surprise to many to learn that certain athletes rely on their vegan diet to perform at their best. They reported that the changes in their food made them feel more energised, have longer enduring stamina, and greater strength.

Lastly, taking a look at the bigger picture, changes in diet can have an unbelievable effect on our planet’s sustainability. It’s said that, if the world went vegan, we could save 8.1 million lives per year by 2050, decrease gas emissions by two thirds and save £1.5 trillion in climate reparations.

Not everyone may be willing to change their entire diet but by limiting, rather than eliminating meat-based meals, we can benefit across these three essential areas. And what’s more, it brings greater demand for brands like Quorn and Beyond Meat. So, how do these brands stand out amongst the plethora of other plant-based brands?

Social media followings

Graph 1 – Graph showing the number of followers, likes and subscribers across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube for Quorn and Beyond Meat. Data from October 2020.
Graph 1 – Graph showing the number of followers, likes and subscribers across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube for Quorn and Beyond Meat. Data from October 2020.

When taking a look at both brands’ followers, on various social platforms it’s clear who has a bigger audience; Beyond Meat. 

That being said, it should be highlighted that Quorn has a different social media account for multiple countries, whereas Beyond Meat has one main account to cover its various locations.

Some of Quorn’s campaigns

Healthy protein. Healthy planet

In 2019, Quorn launched a £14 million marketing campaign, “Healthy Protein. Healthy Planet”, with a marketing goal of showcasing just how easy it is to make great-tasting dishes with Quorn products. This campaign marks the biggest ever annual spend by any brand in the vegan industry. It was a year-long campaign including a series of TV ads running for about 50 weeks, highlighting several of Quorn’s products like Quorn mince, Quorn pieces, and their meat-free cocktail sausages.

Consumers have started to recognise the need for a more sustainable diet. Around 57% of people are now aware of the benefits that reducing their meat consumption has on the environment. With the ever-changing consumer behaviour, the demand for meat-free products has been on the rise, opening a gap in the market for new brands to fill. A gap in which Quorn tried to fill by investing heavily with this campaign. PR and digital content supported the campaign with a focus on the different ways consumers can reduce meat consumption without missing out on their “family favourite” meals.

Take a step in the right direction

Over a quarter of global warming issues are caused by food. This is the time to act. Everything we eat and change now will help towards a better and cleaner future.

Quorn's 'Take a Step in the Right Direction' campaign

For this reason, Quorn has started a campaign to help people understand the environmental impact behind the food we buy has and how they can shop and eat more sustainably. Quorn wants to use its position as a household name and meat-free market leader, to encourage positive change and highlight the small steps we can all take that will have a major impact. 

The brand partnered with parenting website, Netmums, to create the “Step in the Right Direction Squad”. They invited 100 families from across the UK to join the challenge to reduce their carbon footprint. How did they achieve this? By encouraging the families to replace their usual meat intake with Quorn substitutes. At the heart of all Quorn products lies the super-protein ‘Mycoprotein’. It uses 90% less carbon, land and water than beef does and can play a huge role in working towards a more sustainable planet.

Former ambassador for Quorn spikes mentions for being on British reality show

Using Infegy, a social listening and insights tool, we ran a query to identify all mentions of Quorn, and separately Beyond Meat, across social media within the UK between the dates of August 17th – November 29th 2020.

Graph 2 - Graph showing the number of mentions of Quorn, their social handles and branded hashtags across social media, in the UK, between August 17th (week 35) - November 29th (week 48) 2020.
Graph 2 – Graph showing the number of mentions of Quorn, their social handles and branded hashtags across social media, in the UK, between August 17th (week 35) – November 29th (week 48) 2020.

From the results, we can see that Quorn had a spike in mentions in the week commencing 16th November.

This can be attributed to the brand’s former ambassador, Mo Farah, appearing on the British reality show ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” and causing some controversial comments having been seen eating non-vegetarian products in the castle. This shows how people still associate Mo Farah with the Quorn brand. This meaning, any talk around him also has an effect on mentions of the Quorn brand.

Some of Beyond Meat’s campaigns

Feed a million+

In April 2020, the brand announced their pledge to donate and distribute more than a million Beyond Burgers as part of their campaign Feed A Million+.  

Our goal has always been to use food as a vehicle for change and we’re fortunate to be in a position to put that into action now like never before. Our hope is that this donation will help make lives easier and contribute to the strong sense of community that is so vitally important during these unprecedented times. We are so inspired by our community and all they’re doing to give back. We’re all in this together and we hope you are staying safe and taking care of each other. #GoBeyond

Go Beyond

The goal was to raise brand awareness and help those that they could during these unprecedented times. Despite costing them somewhat financially, Beyond Meat are staying true to their brand values. Actions like this will help them maintain trust and loyalty in their brand which will last long after the pandemic.

What if we all Go Beyond? 

The “what if we all Go Beyond” campaign aims to highlight improvement on animal welfare, health and environmental benefits of going meat-free. The brand portrays this in a way to state facts, similarly to Quorn, but show imagery based more on everyday life that we can all relate to. The commercial campaign is all about inclusivity, a movement to include everyone, wherever they are on their journey. You don’t need to know everything to make small changes in your own life. The brand’s goal truly comes from a good heart, making the #futureofprotein available to as many people worldwide.

Kevin Hart as an ambassador for Beyond Meat

Graph 3 – Graph showing the interests of the people discussing either Quorn or Beyond Meat on social media between August 17th (week 35) – November 29th (week 48) 2020.
Graph 3 – Graph showing the interests of the people discussing either Quorn or Beyond Meat on social media between August 17th (week 35) – November 29th (week 48) 2020.

Looking again at our social listening results on Infegy, we found that the majority of people talking about Beyond Meat and Quorn are between the age group of 25 – 34 year olds. We also found that they have significant interests in food & culture, humour and satire, as well as pop culture (Graph 3). 

Graph 4 – Graph showing the number of mentions of Beyond Meat, their social handles and branded hashtags across social media between August 17th (week 35) – November 29th (week 48) 2020.
Graph 4 – Graph showing the number of mentions of Beyond Meat, their social handles and branded hashtags across social media between August 17th (week 35) – November 29th (week 48) 2020.

Using the same tool, we identified a peak in the number of mentions of Beyond Meat during the week commencing 9th November (week 46) 2020. On 10th November, the brand launched a campaign introducing the new “Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza” at Pizza Hut. They enhanced this campaign through collaborating with popular comedian, Kevin Hart.

Through this collaboration, Beyond Meat have shown that they know their audience. Kevin Hart is also popular among the 25 – 34 year old demographic and appeases to the interest of humour and satire that their audience holds. Not only this but, Kevin Hart may be considered cool and more down to earth than the average celebrity used in conjunction with vegan brands. As a result, not only did this campaign capture the attention of their existing audience but increased their reach to get in front of new users too.

Conclusion

Overall, both brands have a strong digital presence. Quorn focuses campaigns around educating the nation on the health and environmental benefits of going meat-free. On the contrast, Beyond Meat, who holds the higher social following out of the two, focuses on being more relatable, down to earth and in line with the average consumer. This contrast is also reflected in their choice of partnerships with Quorn selecting Mo Farah, Olympic gold medallist, aiding their educational messages on how a veggie diet can lead to optimal health and stamina. Whereas Beyond Meat partnered with Kevin Hart, a comedian, who is more relatable to the mass market. Both brands know their core values, messages and audiences and create remarkable campaigns to pull all of this together. Who wins this brand? That’s really down to the individual and their own beliefs on eating, or not eating, meat products.

Who would you crown the winner of this battle of the brands?

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