Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
16 July 2019
Beyond Meat plays it smart, but needs a better brand position
Before I delve into my admiration for the Beyond Meat product line, here’s an anecdote.
For 58 years, I was a voracious meat eater. I could man the grill so well that Bobby Flay might turn green with jealousy. On weekends, for instance, I would season a pork shoulder at five in the morning, prepping for the all-day smoker. Once ready, the meat would fall apart in shreds to the praise of my family.
Thanksgiving, too, proved a time of deft craftsmanship for me. Each year, I would de-bone our turkey legs — as instructed by Julia Child — and pack them full with a rich oyster stuffing. Needless to say, my personal shift to vegetarianism late in life prompted an about face by those closest. Especially the ravenous carnivores of my family. (Sorry, all.)
As you can tell, I enjoyed the taste of meat. But for personal reasons, I quit eating it and followed alongside my wife’s life-long journey of vegetarianism. Unlike her, I had my cravings. I missed the taste of a chargrilled burger, spicy Italian sausages, and a jam-packed meatball subs. Thing is, none of the veggie options of these met my liking. Some came close. (Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime, for instance.) But alas, I still yearned for better flavors and texture.
Then came Beyond Meat.
Beyond Meat strong in tactics, a bit short in brand strategy
This company is impressive. By way of featured press and prominent placement at my grocer of choice, Whole Foods, I took the bait and was hooked immediately. Burgers taste like burgers, sausages taste like sausages. And the ground meat… just, wow.
“But I wish its brand position featured the customer in it. You could make the case that the brand face of its customers are those who see lifestyles evolving and hop on that train. The name of Beyond Meat does suggest that. But is that idea the most emotionally intensive driver for vegetarians?”
Even more, Beyond Meat gets where to target its base. Folks like me, you know, the vegetarians of the world who miss the flavors of meat, still peruse the meat aisles thinking fondly about the recipes of old. Guess where we don’t go to do that — the frozen food aisle, where the troves of vegetarian options reside. Deftly, Beyond Meat houses its entire line in the meat section of the grocery store. This is vegetarian food for masses who love the taste of meat but felt guilty about eating it. If you want that other stuff, hit the frozen foods.
Its brand promise of “The Future of Protein” speaks to a changing world. But I wish its brand position featured the customer in it. You could make the case that the brand face of its customers are those who who see lifestyles evolving and hop on that train . The name of Beyond Meat does suggest that. But is that idea the most emotionally intensive driver for vegetarians? That they’re on the right side of history?
And I wish it would sport a different spokesperson than NBA star Kyrie Irving, known as locker room poison and one-time believer in the flat Earth theory. It just makes Beyond Meat seem like nonsense to some.
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