How to Promote Your Plant-Based Menu to Customers Choosing this Special Diet

Monday, November 29, 2021

Plant based alternatives to milk products have been on the market for a while now, so many of your guests have probably already heard of them. This growing awareness (and in some cases, a preference for plants) will make it easier for you to promote new recipes. Here are a few marketing ideas for plant-based menus to help you plan a successful rollout. 

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Top 11 plant-based marketing tips: how to promote your plant-based menu for special diets successfully  

If you’re adding new foods and beverages to your menu, you want your guests to be excited about them right away. Here are a few ideas to get your new offerings off to a successful start. 

  1. Choose the right name 

One of the first questions in plant-based marketing is what to call plant-based food and beverage alternatives to dairy. Although studies have shown that customers find the term "milk" appealing, the UK and some other countries in the European Union have banned the use of the term to refer to products made with plants1, 2 and other countries may follow, even though, there are some exceptions like “coconut milk”, which is allowed in the EU. Therefore, it's better to take a cautious approach, choosing terms like “vegan," "plant-based,” or "plant-based alternatives," while using visuals or descriptions to contextualize these products.  

  1. Romance the language!

Once you’ve perfected your recipes, describe them in a way that’s too appealing to resist. Words like creamy, rich, smooth, and frothy can help convince guests that they will be satisfied. 

  1. Consider every category

Sure, they’re easy to add to smoothies and coffee. But how about dips, sauces for entrées, or creamy desserts?  

  1. Plant-based products are not a compromise

So treat them as an exciting new ingredient that more guests are eager to try—not just a substitute for vegans or lactose-intolerant diners. 

  1. Make the switch easy

Wondering how to easily promote your plant-based menu to those adopting the special diet? By creating plant-based versions of familiar dishes, you can encourage regular guests to try them and help vegan diners to feel in sync with their eating partners.  

  1. Integrate them on the menu

Remember, people may choose a plant-based dish or beverage for many reasons, so don’t segregate them in their own section. 

  1. Be proud to point them out

Remember to mark these options as 100% plant-based or vegan (as long as all ingredients in the dish qualify) so guests will feel confident choosing them. 

  1. Educate your staff

Plant-based marketing oftentimes starts with your staff. Make sure servers know which products you use in your dishes and beverages and how their flavours may differ from each other and cow’s milk. They should be prepared to describe how well plant-based products deliver the creaminess and consistency guests expect. Since many of these products contain potential allergens, remind your staff to ask guests about allergies when serving beverages or dishes with soy, gluten, or nut-based ingredients. 

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  1. Spread the word!

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Remember, consumers are looking for more plant-based options, so promote them visibly. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing customers who are specifically seeking these items. Try powerful tools in the plant-based marketing arsenal such as like newsletters, social media, or signs and table-cards around your restaurant to promote your new items and explain why you’ve added them. Values statements like these may attract new customers or increase the loyalty of those you have. 

  1. Show & Tell 

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If you want to convince guests how delicious these products are, a picture (or a display case) can be worth a thousand words. Once guests can see how amazing dishes made with these ingredients can be, they’ll be tempted to give them a try! You can also draw attention by creating posters for your waiting area, adding promo cards to the table, or featuring plant based - no milk menu items in online menus and social media.

  1. Try It, You’ll Like It!

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Taste-tests can also be a powerful way to win over guests and an effective plant-based marketing technique. If you have self-serve stations, include a variety of plant-based mixers so guests can experiment by themselves. Or, offer a sampler of smoothies, coffee drinks, or desserts made with plant-based alternatives to milk products to help create acceptance. 

The advent of new ingredients is always an exciting time for the food industry. With consumer demand for plant-based foods and beverages on the rise, now is the perfect time to begin experimenting and searching for ways to add them to your repertoire.  

REMEMBER: According to EU Regulation and Codex, terminology such as “plant-based milk” or “plant-based dairy” may not be used to refer to plant-based alternatives.1, 2 

Next, discover how to choose the right plant-based products for your menu.

References 

1. General Standard for the Use of Dairy Terms (Codex Stan 206-1999). 

2. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32013R1308 REGULATION (EU) No 1308/2013.