(6 min read)
In Part I, we discussed the importance of normalising plant-based food options in fast-food venues. We also learned that clever menu strategies are the way to make plant-based options appeal to ‘mainstream’ consumers.
So, let’s move on to the how.
Whether you need to add plant-based options to your fast-food outlet for the first time, or the sales of your current options require elevation, we’re here to help you jump-start your plant-based menu strategy.
Last week, ProVeg International published its inaugural International Fast Food Ranking Report. The project assessed the landscape of plant-based offerings at the five biggest fast-food chains worldwide, using ProVeg’s scorecard methodology to rank the top restaurants.
The report showcases the contributions the top-five fast-food companies are making to the plant-based food space and highlights opportunities to capitalise on growing consumer trends in plant-based eating.
This article will summarise the main learnings from the Fast Food Ranking Report and enable you to implement the most significant insights into your business strategy.
The International Fast Food Ranking Report found that the biggest players in the fast-food industry are adapting to the changes in eating habits taking place globally, but that there is room for improvement.
So, are you ready to boost your plant-based food service sales and drive your business’s sustainability credentials? Let’s get started.
Menu presentation is a key factor for consumer success in fast food chains, and a vital aspect of menu presentation is where you position plant-based products. But what’s the solution – displaying plant-based dishes separately to animal-based menu options, integrated with animal-based offerings, or both?
The International Fast Food Ranking gave the highest points to fast-food restaurants that integrated fully plant-based items in their overall menu and listed them first. This method helps to ‘normalise’ plant-based options among omnivore and flexitarian consumers by making them appear as if for everyone, not only for those who abstain from consuming meat and/or dairy.
In addition to item integration, it’s recommended that fast-food chains repeat plant-based menu items in a separate section of the menu. Utilising both of these tactics helps to nudge mainstream consumers toward choosing plant-based while also making it easy for consumers who adhere to fully-plant-based diets to navigate the menu.
To expand on consumer psychology and menu presentation – naming is vital. When it comes to those additional veggie and vegan-specific menu sections, it’s still important to ensure that you don’t allocate titles that alienate certain consumers. We’re trying to normalise plant-based food, here!
Give the sections titles that possess a broader consumer appeal and continue to make plant-based menu items appear as options that could be for anyone, not just veggies. We recommend names like ‘Plant-Based’ – or you can get creative.
Unfortunately, many fast-food restaurants use unappealing names for their separate plant-based menu sections, and so scored low on this front – most McDonald’s assessed by ProVeg use titles like ‘Vegetarian’, the majority of Burger Kings use ‘Veggie’ in their section title, while most KFCs and Pizza Huts feature ‘Vegan’ sections.
By simply renaming additional menu sections, the above fast-food chains could make plant-based menu items more attractive to non-vegan consumers and quickly boost sales.
Which meal would you choose – a ‘meatless burger’ or a ‘juicy Texas BBQ patty’? Most consumers would opt for the latter! By using enticing and positive language to name and describe plant-based menu items,Note: The International Fast Food Ranking scored item name and item description separately. you appeal to consumers’ sensory cravings and hunger pangs… and thus, attract their wallets.
Tempt diners to plant-based options via the senses – use sensory and experiential words that describe your menu item’s taste, texture, and/or smell, like ‘juicy’, ‘tender’, or ‘creamy’. Using positive descriptors should also help frame plant-based items as equitable options to their animal-based counterparts on the menu.
Additionally, when naming menu items, choose words that focus on the product’s culinary theme, cooking technique, or brand of plant-based analogue. Minimise the use of words like ‘veggie’ or ‘plant-based,’ and totally avoid words like ‘vegan,’ ‘vegetarian,’ or ‘meatless. Inasmuch, stay away from uninventive and unappealing dish names. Be creative and let your senses lead the way!
When you spot a plant-based food option on a menu, how often have you only known that item is free from meat, egg, and dairy products because the dish name includes the word ‘vegan’? (Think, Vegan Breakfast Bap or Big Vegan Burger.) Not only is it not very inventive, nor is it attractive to non-vegan consumers, but it’s not a reliable labelling system.
Consequently, don’t use the product name to function as the label. Use proper, consistent labels that are subtle yet easily identifiable to those looking for them.
Pictograms are great examples. They can help minimise the deterring effect that vegan-identifying denominations can have on meat-eating consumers while accommodating those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets.
Examples of suitable pictograms or letters to denote plant-based menu items:
* Make sure to display a key on your menu to explain what any used pictograms mean.
How can we make a ‘niche’ product appear popular and boost sales in the process? Create as much noise about it as possible!
Prioritise the promotion of your plant-based menu options over your animal-based items to push the former to the forefront of consumers’ minds. By doing this, you make plant-based dishes appear as the ‘norm’, reducing consumer reservations and increasing willingness to purchase.
This can be done through multiple channels, in dining-in or takeaway settings, on your website, and throughout your social media platforms. Dedicate events and social media posts to plant-based dishes, leverage your home webpage space to nudge consumers towards your plant-based menu items (position plant-based options above animal-based items), and spend less time shouting about your animal-based options in general.
“More and more Germans reduce their meat consumption for various reasons. At Burger King Germany, we are keen to offer them a tasty and diverse range of Plant-based burgers, snacks and sides. Our claim: 0% meat. 100% taste. As a Plant-based pioneer in QSR, we extend our Plant-based portfolio continuously. We are happy if more and more brands join us in the plant-based journey.”
Marketing Director, Burger King Germany
Following the results of the International Fast Food Ranking Report, ProVeg International makes the following recommendations for food service businesses:
So, what are you waiting for? Implement our top five recommendations to normalise plant-based food, drive your fast-food sales, and help the environment.
Make sure to increase the ratio of tasty plant-based options on your menus in relation to animal-based meat dishes – so much about what feels ‘normal’ to consumers is related to what is available. If 50% of the menu (or more) is plant-based, that will feel a lot more normal than if only 5% of your menu is plant-based (even if you apply our nudges)!
You can learn more about why we need to normalise plant-based food in fast-food restaurants by reading this article. But make sure to uncover the full results of the International Fast Food Ranking Report, here!
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