New Acosta Group Plant-Based Shopper Insights Study Highlights Opportunities for Brands and Retailers

One-in-three shoppers are consuming plant-based products on a regular basis

Today, Acosta Group released the results of its plant-based study with its proprietary Shopper Community in advance of the highly anticipated natural, organic & healthy products event, Natural Products Expo East 2023. The new study looks at the state of active, light and non-plant-based users, providing brands and retailers valuable information to drive growth in-store and online.

Over the past four years, plant-based product sales have seen strong growth, reaching record sales of $8B in 2022 (SPINS). While 88% of active users have a moderate to high commitment to continue their plant-based purchases, one-third of shoppers say they would like to see more plant-based offerings at stores. Retailers and brands can drive growth by offering a broader assortment and more online and in-store options.

“We asked our shopper community what initially influenced their consumption of plant-based products, and they cited overall health reasons, nutritional concerns and animal welfare as the top mentions, especially for the longer-term users,” said Kathy Risch, SVP, Consumer Insights and Trends at Acosta Group. “Shoppers place equal importance on obtaining reliable and accurate information from brands, retailers and the media about plant-based foods so they can make well-informed choices – especially those beginning their plant-based journeys.”

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Other key findings and implications from the study include:

  • Active users are more likely to believe that plant-based products have staying power, while only 20% of non-users say the same, believing it to be more of a fad
  • Over half of all shoppers cite that affordability is the main barrier to purchasing plant-based products
  • Gen-Z and Millennials are eager adopters of plant-based products and more likely to be influenced by sustainability – this is very similar to another Acosta Group study this year on Sustainability Shopper Insights, in which 52% of Gen Z and Millennials said they are more inclined to buy sustainable products
  • Active plant-based shoppers would like to see more plant-based soups and snacks, while new plant-based shoppers will gravitate towards alternative milk, creamers, protein shakes and pizza

“This study shows significant potential for brands and retailers to explore alternate methods of educating and connecting with all plant-based shoppers – whether they are active users or not,” said Andrew Fleming, SVP Natural Channel, Acosta. “To stimulate ongoing growth and build brand loyalty within this segment of shoppers, we encourage brands and retailers to strengthen their omnichannel plan and focus on all aspects of the consumer journey, including clear and engaging signage, sampling, and promotions to encourage trial and remind shoppers of product benefits.”

Acosta’s extensive knowledge of retailers and natural and organic brands helped ALOHA, an employee-owned, entrepreneurial brand, double its presence in retail stores over the last few years. Since 2020, their partnership has propelled ALOHA to become the fastest growing plant-based protein bar in the natural channel – experiencing a remarkable 300% increase in sales.

Acosta Group’s Plant-Based Shopper Insights study was fielded June 6-12, 2023, with 1,314 household shoppers, ages 18 – 76, from its proprietary Shopper Community.

The company’s Sustainability Shopper Insights study was fielded March 8-12, 2023, with 883 primary household shoppers, ages 18 – 76, from its proprietary Shopper Community.

The Acosta Group Shopper Community is comprised of over 40,000 demographically diverse shoppers across the U.S. and is the company’s proprietary community for survey engagement.

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ALOHABrandsConsumptionemployee-ownedentrepreneurial brandGen ZMillennialsNew Acosta GroupNewsOngoing Growthorganic brandsplant-based productsPlant-Based Shopper Insightsretailersshopper insightssurvey engagementThe Acosta Group Shopper Community