If you were presented with a plateful of “meat analogue,” would you eat it? Perhaps not. We’d wager that many consumers wouldn’t. What ingredients are on that plate, anyway?
“Meat analogue” is a scientific term for plant-based meats. Think: Impossible Burger, McDonald’s McPlant, or Beyond Meat. Now you can see why brand naming would be critical to the category’s success with consumers.
Plant-based meats are a key driver of growth at grocery retailers nationwide, according to market research reported by The Good Foods Institute. In fact, 2020 sales data show that sales of plant-based foods that replace animal products have grown by 29% in the past two years, to $5 billion.
“The race for a piece of the plant-based surge also tests companies’ ability to concoct names that are appealing, memorable, and not too corny,” they write. With “323 meat alternative products claiming to be ‘plant-based,’” they reported, the challenge to come up with new names that appeal to consumers becomes more challenging by the day.
Fast-forward to the launch of Hormel Happy Little Plants. According to Bunge and Haddon: “Hormel’s development of the Happy Little Plants brand in spring 2019 involved employees across the company’s marketing, sales, operations, regulatory affairs and accounting departments, as well as brand-strategy firm CBX. The effort produced a list of around 500 names,” said Bryan Kreske, manager of Hormel’s business incubator. “There was a lot of Frankensteining going on, combining elements of areas we liked and didn’t like,” he said.
Happy Little Plants was chosen, Mr. Kreske said, because it conveys “plant positivity.”
“As Hormel’s innovation agency, CBX recognized that many plant protein manufacturers were positioning meat in a negative context,” said Stacy Hintermeister, VP of Marketing and Growth at CBX. “Our branding agency saw the opportunity to position the new brand as the owner of positivity. The result—Happy Little Plants: We celebrate the power of plants, making plant protein more accessible for consumers.”
And it worked. In a study comparing the brand with competitors, Happy Little Plants communicated friendly, optimistic, honest, and trustworthy better than anyone else.
Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.
Read our CBX case history of the Happy Little Plants branding project.