Studies & Numbers

Study Examines the Personal Values That Drive Alt Meat Consumption

A study published in the scientific journal Appetite has examined the personal values that lead consumers to choose meat alternatives.

The researchers surveyed consumers in the UK, Germany, Finland, and Sweden. The results show that values focused on the self, such as self-enhancement (which consists of achievement and power) and openness to change, are not associated with consumer interest in meat alternatives.

This contradicts the expectations of the study authors, who had hypothesized that cultural associations such as masculinity would resonate with self-enhancement, leading to lower interest in alt meats. Furthermore, the researchers expected that openness to change would lead to greater interest in meat alternatives, but this was found not to be the case.

Plant-based ribs with bones
Image courtesy of Juicy Marbles

Conversely, values focused on others did influence interest in meat alternatives. Self-transcendence, a value strongly linked to pro-environmental behaviours, along with benevolence and universalism, increased interest. On the other hand, conservation, which consists of the basic values of security, conformity, and tradition, led to a reduction in interest.

The study also looked at the link between two social motives — status and group affiliation — and values. It found that self-enhancement is connected to status, while self-transcendence and conservation are linked to group affiliation. However, openness to change was not associated with either motive.

More effective marketing

The paper then discusses the implications of the results for the promotion of meat alternatives. The authors suggest activating consumers’ environmentally relevant values with tools such as visuals; however, they acknowledge that this may not work for consumers who are motivated by conservation.

Meat alternatives made from fermented Swedish peas
© Bärta

For these consumers, it may be more beneficial to promote meat alternatives as something with the potential to maintain society, rather than something that threatens their core values. To appeal to consumers who are motivated by self-enhancement (which is linked to status), meat alternatives could be marketed as luxurious.

“Consumer sentiment is not only driven by product attributes, but also by emotional connections and shared values,” Lisa Feria, CEO and managing partner of Stray Dog Capital, told vegconomist earlier this year. “By effectively communicating the benefits, addressing concerns, and continually innovating, the alternative meat industry can pave the way for a more sustainable and ethical food system.”

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