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Vegetarian Consumer Trends: Vegetarians and Vegan Consumers
Cultivate Research, May 2008, Pages: 22
If you are a vegetarian food manufacturer, distributor, retailer or marketer, the new Vegetarian Consumer Trends reports will give you new insights on your key consumer segments.
This report provides an in-depth description of vegetarian and vegan consumers, drawn from a comprehensive multi-phase research study of adults in the United States. This report explores in detail the size of the vegetarian/vegan consumer segment and their reasons for refraining from meat consumption (or consumption of all animal products). This is one of the most comprehensive research studies ever conducted about the consumer attitudes and behavior of vegetarian and vegan U.S. adults.
This report is Volume 4 in a series that addresses the behaviors, motivations, and barriers of consumer segments that are of particular interest to vegetarian food manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and marketers.
- Turtle Island Foods
I. Executive Summary 4
II. Vegetarians and Vegans Defined 5
- How Many Vegetarians Are There?
- Who is the Vegetarian?
- Why Vegetarian?
- What Are Vegetarians Eating?
- What is the Vegetarian Lifestyle?
III. How to Appeal to Vegetarians 12
- Appeal to the Greater Social Consciousness of Vegetarians
- Appeal to the Vegetarian’s Sense of Health
- Encourage Vegetarians to Reach Out to Others
IV. Conclusion 15
V. Additional Information 16
VI. Appendix: Data Tables 17
This report segmented U.S. adults according to their current meat consumption habits, as follows:
- Avid meat consumers (14%) – consume meat with “every” meal
- Regular meat consumers (47%) – consume meat with “most” meals
- Moderate meat consumers (25%) – consume meat with “about half” of meals
- Semi-vegetarians (13%) – consume meat with “fewer than half” of meals
- Vegetarians and vegans (1%) – “never” consume meat
- Vegetarians are those who never eat meat, while vegans do not consume animal products of any kind. Combined, these groups make up a small, but dedicated portion of the population, comprising 2 million individuals, or about 1% of the total U.S. adult population.
The vegetarian and vegan segment has the potential to grow to nearly six times its current size, which would bring the total number of such consumers to almost 18 million adults.
Vegetarians and vegans are the most frequent purchasers of meat and dairy alternatives. As a consumer segment, they are extremely receptive to trying new grocery products and they self-report as being the first among their friends to do so. Most are willing to pay premiums for items that embody their ideals, including “humane” products.
The vegetarian and vegan group tends to skew female and toward the younger end of the age spectrum when compared with the base adult population. The group is nearly two-thirds women, and more than half are under the age of 35. This skew toward younger people may account for this segment’s greater interest in humane and environmental issues, as opposed to health, which is more important to older age groups.
Vegetarians and vegans are more issue-driven than any other consumer group. They are first and foremost motivated by animal welfare issues and to a lesser extent environmental issues. Because these issues are a priority for vegetarians and vegans, they are more likely than the typical U.S. adult to contribute time or money to related causes and they integrate these issues into their dietary decisions on a daily basis.
Vegetarians and vegans are motivated by a number of different concerns, but as a group they cite animal welfare as the biggest primary motivator in choosing a vegetarian diet. This is in contrast to non-vegetarians, who clearly indicate that health is the primary (and in some cases only) motivator for meat-reducing behavior.
Vegetarians and vegans have shown a willingness to make social sacrifices in support of their philosophies; many seek out support networks of friends who share similar convictions to help them remain steadfast in their lifestyles and dietary choices.
To engage this consumer segment, food producers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and others involved in selling vegetarian food products should adopt sales and marketing strategies that appeal to vegetarians based on their primary motivations.
Vegetarian food industry players should also utilize established vegetarian patrons as word of mouth advocates for their products to reach other vegetarian and non-vegetarian customers through the patrons’ social networks.
The initial phase of this study involved the design, execution, and analysis of a quantitative survey of a large sample of U.S. adults age 18 and over. The publishers worked with Survey Sampling, Inc. and its online research panel of more than 2.5 million U.S. adults. We employed “census balanced” sampling techniques to ensure, as much as possible, representation of the adult U.S. population. In total, more than 3,200 adults completed the survey. Assuming results are truly representative of U.S. adults, then the maximum margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 1.7% (higher for subgroups).
However, online sampling based on a panel of participants (who have opted in) cannot be considered truly “random,” although the sample came from one of the largest and most respected consumer panels available. Using online research methods also has potential limitations given that some groups are not fully represented online; this typically results in under-representation of non-white, lower income, and elderly individuals.
Following the quantitative research phase, the publisher conducted a qualitative second phase, including nine in-person focus groups to further explore the survey findings. Focus groups were held in various cities around the United States, including Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, MN; Houston, TX; Louisville, KY; and Portland, OR. Each focus group included 6 to 10 paid participants and lasted about 90 to 120 minutes per session. For all groups combined, there were 73 focus group participants. All groups included participants who were screened according to their past, current, and future (intended) meat.