ProVeg study breakthrough reveals significance of colour in encouraging adoption of plant-based meat

A groundbreaking new report released by ProVeg International, “The Power of Colour: Nudging Consumers Toward Plant-Based Meat Consumption,” reveals key insights into the impact of colour on flavour perception, willingness to try plant-based products, pricing decisions, and associations with health and sustainability.

The plant-based champions said understanding the relationship of packaging colours on perceptions of plant-based products is crucial, not only for boosting a brand’s popularity but also for effectively reaching consumers who may not have previously considered incorporating plant proteins into their diet.

The survey included 1,200 participants, predominantly self-described omnivores, from both the US and the UK. Participants were presented with vegetarian and vegan products packaged in an array of warm and cool tones. They were then asked to associate sentiments with the colours employed in the packaging.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Red – the flavour enhancer
    • Red is perceived as the tastiest colour for packaging
    • 56% of UK consumers and 54% of US consumers associate the colour red with superior taste in plant-based meat
  • Blue – price-performance connection:
    • Blue is the most universally favoured colour among consumers, signalling both affordability and quality
    • 48% of UK consumers and 45% of US consumers associate the colour blue with budget-friendly products
    • 37% of UK consumers and 45% of US consumers are willing to pay a premium for products packaged in blue
  • Green – a beacon of health and sustainability:
    • Green symbolises health, freshness, naturalness, and eco-friendliness in the world of plant-based meat
    • UK consumers link green to healthiness (75%), eco-friendliness (78%), and safety (75%)
    • In the US, respondents associate green with naturalness (68%), eco-friendliness (68%), and safety (72%)

The report establishes that colour significantly influences consumer decision-making, as 65% of participants indicated that their purchasing choices are influenced by colour. The findings further revealed a greater openness among consumers to try plant proteins, provided that the packaging aligns with the desired aesthetic.

“Flexitarians and omnivores actually showed a greater inclination to try plant-based products when presented in red packaging. Consumers subconsciously associate red with tastiness, so by choosing red packaging you are more likely to attract people who don’t immediately gravitate towards products dominated by the colour green,” Ajsa Spahic, researcher and author of the ProVeg report, noted.

“Green is the predominant colour in many plant-based products. Although it goes against current trends, the data indicates that it should only be used in moderation. Green should only be incorporated when your primary objective is to underscore the emphasis on sustainability and health benefits,” Spahic added.

“Utilise shades of blue to indicate budget-friendly or premium products. With its calming effect, blue can effectively communicate both cost-effectiveness and a readiness to invest in quality,” Spahic said.

Marketers in the food industry can employ these insights to strategically design packaging and branding that resonates with consumers’ colour preferences. By doing so, they can effectively increase their sales and encourage the consumption of plant-based meat.

“First impressions matter. Something as simple as changing the colour of the packaging has the power to attract consumers and make people of all dietary backgrounds more inclined to try meat alternatives,” Ajsa Spahic said.

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