Beyond Meat: Changing Customer Behaviour in Food Consumption
(6 pages of text)
In 2014, the founder and chief executive officer of Beyond Meat, Ethan Brown, reflected on the question that had led him to start the company: “How difficult can it be to change what you eat for dinner?” The small start up based in Los Angeles, California, had faced considerable challenges in changing customer perceptions and attitudes since it was founded in 2009. Its intention was to address both health and environmental problems related to meat consumption by creating plant-based meat. The company had successfully developed plant-based meats that were similar in taste, texture, and composition to regular animal meat. However, Beyond Meat needed to change customer perceptions and behaviours to persuade US consumers to switch from animal- to plant-based protein. What strategies could Beyond Meat use to market its disruptive innovation and become a game changer in the meat industry? Should the company invest in aggressive research and development to make its product taste and feel more like real meat, or should it focus on marketing the product based on its nutritional, health, and environmental benefits? Should it target vegetarians or meat eaters, and what demographic changes should it consider?
This case is designed primarily for use in both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on marketing strategy or technology. It provides an example of success in sustainable food technology and introduces students to the difficulty of changing customer behaviour, attitudes, and perceptions, particularly with regard to definitions and consumption of food. Students will need to think critically about aspects of the marketing effort required to promote a new food product: addressing customer perceptions and attitudes, identifying target market segments, and building a brand in the food industry. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Explain how ethical motivation can be used in marketing.
- Outline methods for effecting cultural shifts through disruptive marketing strategies.
- Explain how to develop a market niche.
- Recommend an effective product placement strategy for a small start-up in the food industry.
Accommodation & Food Services
United States, Small, 2014
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