With the ever-growing call to arms to address the threats of climate change and the shift towards a healthier vegan lifestyle, Claire Baldwin looks at some of the brands leading the change in the use of brand messaging, product innovation and downright honesty. In this first article, we’re checking out plant-based food brand THIS.

It’s 2019, and veganism is growing daily. At the start of the year, Veganuary saw a record-breaking 250,310 people from 190 countries register for the month-long plant-based pledge. For the first time ever, health was the major reason cited for participants’ decision to pledge (46%), followed by animals (34%) and then the environment (12%).

Despite this increase in veganism, there is still somewhat of a stigma around the lifestyle choice, with many omnivores scoffing at the notion of vegan food and proclaiming that it’s not for them.

Enter THIS.

What is THIS?

“THIS is what happens when two meat-lovers checked out meat-free food, and decided that we didn’t want any of it.”

Created by two former burger restaurateurs, THIS is a vegan food company that’s set to change the way we think about plant-based foods.

The website states: “It’s ridiculously high in protein, it tastes sensational and it’s produced by people who won’t guilt-trip you if you also eat meat.”

While many people still harbour the notion of preachy vegans telling them that their lifestyle choices are wrong, THIS aims to push the other reasons why you might choose their products over meat.

The message behind the brand is ‘plant-based food for everyone’.

Why does the message work?

The creators of THIS, along with Johnson Banks, who spearheaded their marketing campaign, aimed to tempt people with the benefits of their product, rather than trying to scare people off meat or shame them for eating it.

Together, they worked to create “a provocative, challenging tone of voice that embraces and promotes the idea that meat is no longer a necessity”.

The simple monochrome branding and the emphasis on the ‘naked’ product allows THIS to speak for itself. There are no fancy graphics, no lifestyle shots, and no artfully constructed serving suggestions. It’s just THIS.

Creating a focus

The creators of THIS have focussed their campaign on three main aspects that are of utmost importance to consumers: the taste, the environment, and the animals.

The taste

It should go without saying that taste is a key factor for food marketing, but vegan brands are often faced with an uphill battle against omnivores who think that vegan food is bland or boring.

In response to the question “What does THIS taste like?” the website’s FAQs playfully state: “Meat.” It’s a pretty clear and concise answer.

The environment

The packaging of the entire range features some handy graphics of the environmental impact of THIS versus other meat products.

Check out the graphs on their website for statistics of water consumption and CO2 production for THIS compared to beef, chicken and pork.

The animals

THIS’ website states that it’s “a bunch of food that allows you to virtually eat meat, without killing stuff.” It’s perhaps not the most delicate of statements, but the very matter-of-fact delivery of this message is what makes it so compelling.

When you put it that way, why not eat THIS instead of meat?

What have we learned?

The marketing for THIS is noteworthy because of its simplicity. It focuses on what the product is, and what it isn’t. And nothing else. There are no gimmicks, no false promises, and no distracting set dressing.

What THIS does is take what consumers care about and deliver it to them in a clear, no-nonsense manner, which isn’t something we can often say about marketing campaigns. The message is clear: THIS is not meat. It’s even better.