In a world where meat-free alternatives are becoming the norm, the Quorn brand is thriving. So much so that company bosses expect it to become a billion-dollar business by 2027. Quorn has been present in the US since 2002 and, despite a shaky few years in the beginning, is going from strength to strength. Need an example? The Vegconomist reported that “in a market where $2.3bn of chicken nuggets are sold every year, Quorn nuggets are the fastest-selling product within the meat-free category in Kroger”.
But these sales didn’t come out of nowhere. For each dollar spent on a Quorn product, there had to be a consumer aware of the brand behind it. So, while others report on how much money Quorn is making, we decided to research the driving force behind their success: brand awareness.
We surveyed 1,600 people in the US to determine the demographics most aware of the meat-free brand. We then looked at Quorn’s recent marketing efforts to analyze the effect campaigns have had on brand awareness, and offer suggestions to the brand on how they can grow even further.
The Basic Demographics
There are some demographics in which brand awareness remains the same for the Quorn brand, for example, gender, age, and income. The first area in which we found an interesting difference was in education. While those with a medium level of education stayed somewhat close to the brand awareness level of the general population (8%), those with a high level of education shot up to 13%. Low education levels saw brand awareness plummet to just 3%. In fact, higher education was the demographic that brought the most change in brand awareness. Why is that?
A look at Quorn’s marketing efforts in the US doesn’t suggest any strategy to target highly educated people, so the results must go beyond that.
One hypothesis is that universities are driving change. Already as far back as 2013, universities, such as Oakwood University and the University of California, were setting the standard for meat-free eating on campuses. Now, we can’t determine if Quorn is a product used by any of the US universities supporting meat-free meals. However, this initiative may have been a prompt for students to look into the brands currently playing in the market.
Again, the main cause of this result cannot be clarified without further research. The aim of this article is to simply point out that highly educated people in the US can be a key audience to help Quorn’s brand growth in the future. It’s certainly worth looking into how marketing campaigns can be improved using this information.
No Helping Hand From the Environment
Survey respondents who consider themselves environmentally friendly are just slightly more aware of the Quorn brand than the general population (9% v. 8%). This is surprising considering Quorn states quite clearly on its website and across its social media channels that its product is environmentally friendly.
Perhaps the issue is that Quorn is not making enough of an issue of its sustainability in the US as it does in the UK. For example, the brand recently released a new TV campaign that, for the first time, promotes the meat alternative as sustainable. According to Quorn marketing director Alex Glen, “the campaign was inspired by rapid changes in the mindset of consumers, who have become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of food production, particularly meat.”
A TV campaign was released in the US around the same time. However, the vibe was somewhat different. While it did mention the buzzwords “sustainable” and “planet”, the ad seemed more focused on promoting an easy, tasty, protein-filled food for the family.
We reckon that the Quorn brand in the US needs to push sustainability a lot more if they really want to impact the environmentally friendly crowd. It would also be interesting to see over time how these adverts perform on YouTube over TV. IGTV is another great platform for video content but we found that frequent Instagram users are no more likely to be aware of Quorn than anyone else.
Online vs Offline Press
Instagram might not be having a big impact on Quorn’s brand awareness but consider this: people who read online and physical press have a brand awareness of 11%. Those who don’t, sit at 7%.
There are many reasons why this could be but here are two theories of our own.
Reports on major Quorn partnerships are having an impact.
Despite its continual growth in the US, Quorn still might not be a huge news draw. But what if it is mentioned in collaboration with a huge American company? Quorn has recently launched a massive collaboration with food chain Hooters, who will now serve a chicken-like snack, Unreal Wings. This partnership has earned mentions in Women’s Mag, Thrillist, and the New York Post.
Past bad publicity has not been forgotten
A few years back, there was a lawsuit against Quorn that claimed the company deceived consumers into buying products made from fermented mold, instead of mushroom-based protein implied on the package. The lawsuit was filed as far back as 2012 but was only settled in 2017.
That’s five years of possible press coverage. And, if you Google the words “Quorn lawsuit”, over 300,000 search results appear. Could it be that avid news consumers still recall the lawsuit and remember the Quorn brand for the wrong reasons?
There is no doubt that the Quorn brand in the US is moving from strength to strength. But, while positive company reports all focus on sales and revenue, brand performance is ultimately forgotten. However, as our article has shown, Quorn is not performing as well on the brand side that a big company should. There are demographics that need nurturing and there is plenty of room for growth. Consumers are fickle and Quorn must stay - in a positive manner - in their sights.