People have come up to me to ask why some people advertise vegetarian food with meaty labels, often along with the opinion that I should not eat Quorn or any other meat-like but meat-free substances. I think it is because I am vegetarian, not because they think I am part of a committee meeting where they decided there shall be meaty labels. For your information, I have never been part of that committee or have claimed to be. Though, there are times where other vegetarians are in the room, so maybe they did think I was in the committee before I even studied psychology in university.
I have not asked or demanded anyone to stop eating meat either.
Meat-free squid? From the website, Veggie World
For those unfamiliar with Quorn, it is one option among many others of meat-free protein sources (Trinci, 1992). Though I, too, would prefer if meat-free food was not advertised as meat-free meat, I can see why marketers would choose the meaty label option.
Humans tend to mistrust unfamiliar foods and food processed in novel ways (Birch, 1999; Martins & Pliner, 1993; Cardello, 2003). Meanwhile, these “pretend meat” pieces should not have gone through the traditional process of being chopped off an animal (Food Standards Agency, 2006). Nor should vegetarian food be made from blending a whole animal into a pulp or whatever happens to those animals (Food Standards Agency, 2006). Therefore, the marketers of the once new, fungal food had the challenge of making an innovation appear acceptable, and they ran a load of tests to find that Quorn is acceptable for most people to eat in the first place (Trinci, 1992).
I like to call this type of Quorn as “White Quorn Bits” in my head with the first letter of each word capitalised.
Moreover, introducing something very new can be hard due to the difficulty of explaining never-existed-in-similar-forms-before products (Moreau, Lehmann & Markman, 2001; Ram & Sheth, 1989; Veryzer, 1998). Hence, there is no concise explanations like “Oreo cookie chocolate spread”. Instead, following behind the innovator and running along the marketing path created by the innovators’ explanations can be better for companies than actually innovating (Shankar, Carpenter & Krishnamurthi, 1998). In fact, companies can make more profit from the innovators than the original inventor, providing that they are not too late to market without anything new to offer (Shankar et al., 1998). Hence, marketing innovations also have the challenge of the products being harder to explain.
Still, there are ways to market Quorn, keeping in mind that Quorn was a discontinuous innovation, a food substance radically different from existing products (Birkinshaw, Bessant & Delbridge, 2006; Junarsin, 2009; Trinci, 1992). To market discontinuous food innovations, it may be advisable to play down the uniqueness and associate with existing products like what the marketers did for Quorn (Howells, 1997; van Trijp & van Kleef, 2008). For an example outside the food world, the “television” was mentioned to be like a telegraph but for pictures (The New York Times, 1907)! This is a different story for continuous innovation, where you may have to stress the change, for example, “Look, look, the new phone is a thinner. How groundbreaking! This is worth dropping you current phone for!” Hence, this may be why someone decided that Quorn should somewhat resemble meat (Howells, 1997; Trinci, 1992).
Associating discontinuous innovations with familiar products can provide consumers with some understanding of the product and something to compare the product to (Moreau et al., 2001; Veryzer, 1998). Therefore, the meaty labels can help people better predict what these protein chucks are like as they decide whether they want to give it a try or not. Still, there may be a risk of associating these meat-free products to meat. If the product does not fulfill the expectancy created, consumers can react more negatively than if the association was never made (Siret & Issanchou, 2000). Hence, if people disagree on how meat-like the product was, they may dislike meat-free, meat-like food more than if the product was never said to be meat-like. Therefore, I see why meaty labels are used to advertised meat-free food, but I also see that it is not a risk-free strategy.
Anyway, is there anything wrong with pretend meat or pretend anything if it is made clear that it is fake?
Unicorn meat without actual unicorn meat or any other type of meat. According to Firebox it should not even be food
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