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Want to Sell Plant-Based? Sell Flavor

Highlighting flavor increases sales of plant-rich dishes

The Lempert Report

The World Resources Institute published an article on GreenBiz sharing its insights with brands on what to do to increase people's consumption of plant-based foods. There were a lot of things listed not to do, but one to do stood out loud and clear.

A groundbreaking study from Stanford University last year confirmed that highlighting flavor increases sales of plant-rich dishes. Flavor-focused labels (called "indulgent" in the study) such as "Rich Buttery Roasted Sweet Corn" and "Zesty Ginger Turmeric Sweet Potatoes" were chosen by diners 41% more often over identically prepared vegetables with "healthy-restrictive" labels and 25% more often than those with "basic" labels.

An online study conducted by the Better Buying Lab with the Behavioral Insights Team in the United Kingdom backs this up. For example, renaming "Chickpea and Potato Curry" to "Mild and Sweet Chickpea and Potato Curry" increased ordering by 108%.

Such increases mean that flavor-packed language could be a strategy that increases the sensory appeal of plant-rich dishes to be as high or higher than meat-centered dishes.

The takeaway is simple: Spotlighting what a dish will taste like can be a route to getting people's mouths watering. Flavorful ingredients, flavor-enhancing cooking methods or an interesting combination of flavors can all communicate an attractive flavor profile. 

A lesson for supermarket prepared foods and grocerant marketers. 

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