Plant Based Food Alternative Growth Drivers

We are very excited to be collaborating with Sivo Insights to unlock deeper consumer understanding around different products, categories and demographics. Marilyn Weiss, their Chief Innovation Officer, conducted this recent study incorporating analysis from Metametrix. Maryilyn drew on analysis from a searches on “plant-based” and went on to refine the exploration by generations and brands to arrive at conclusions and insights.

Plant Based Food Alternative Growth Drivers – Part 1

By: Marilyn Weiss, Chief Innovation Officer

Plant-based food alternatives are all the rage – surpassing trend-status and becoming a mainstream staple in people’s diets. We wanted to know WHY.

We’ve had the privilege of leading primary research for start-ups and large Fortune 500 companies entering the Plant-based segment from Dairy to Meat Alternatives to Quick-Serve Restaurants (QSR) and Beauty.

Given the popularity of this category and our own innate curiosity, we conducted research using social media monitoring to better understand the WHAT, WHO, and WHY behind consumers of plant-based foods.

We collaborated with our strategic partner, Metametrix, a cultural context analysis tool, to gain a 360 view of key growth drivers. Human anthropologists by nature, we also talked one-on-one with plant-based consumers to ensure their voice was represented accurately and distinctively.

As a result, we uncovered three main drivers for plant-based food choice:

  1. Animal Welfare
  2. Environment & Sustainability
  3. Health Benefits

These opportunity areas appear to be driven differentially by generations or life stage, as noted in the below diagram:

Nuances by Generations

Gen Z is significantly less likely than older generations to believe meat is a central part of an American identify / culture – for example, “Friendsgiving” doesn’t mean turkey is at the center of the plate.

This generation is more aware than the general population that animal agriculture damages the environment. They value animal welfare & environmental sustainability more than previous generations and are willing to spend more on sustainable food.

Millennials or Gen Y are the top consumers of Plant-based meat alternatives. This generation has adopted Plant-based meat alternatives as a way to indulge sensibly while addressing their long-term health goals and animal treatment concerns.

Millennials recognize the environmental impact their food choices have on society and the environment. They embrace shopping (and eating) with a conscience. Millennials with children are more likely to consume Plant-based meats than millennials without children at home.

Gen Xers are also a core consumer group of Plant-based meat alternatives, and because many in this group are parents of Gen Z’s, they are raising their Gen Z children on Plant-based food and beverages. This generation may be getting educated by their children in the environmental & sustainable aspects of the Plant-based movement or they experience a personal health crisis or a health-benefit associated with eating Plant-based foods.
Boomers appear to be decelerating consumption of Plant-based meat alternatives but are the top consumers of Plant-based dairy alternatives. This generation is more likely to come to the Plant-based segment through a dietary or health need.

Sivo Insights is also planning a Part 2 study where they will examine and dive deeper into motivations and barriers and the critical role of taste in plant-based foods.

To learn more about Sivo Insights contact them at