Vegan Marketing: Top 5 Food Trends to Watch in 2021

Meat-free alternatives and veganism gained considerable traction throughout 2020 in light of people’s unprecedented focus on health and sustainability. The many benefits that consumers’ link to eating less meat – including saving money, improving overall health, feeling good, maintaining weight, and reducing the risk of disease; are likely to become even more attractive in the aftermath of this crisis. 

In addition, the increased consumer consideration of environmental issues is likely to give added impetus for consumers to adopt a plant-based diet. As a result, the vegan market is bound to experience significant growth in 2021. 

In this blog, we outline the 5 key trends shaping the food industry in the upcoming years and discuss how vegan brands can take advantage of them in their marketing efforts.

Key Food Trends to Follow

Home cooking gains popularity

With fewer time constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic for many, scratch cooking is slowly becoming one of the at-home pastimes that people are turning to or discovering for the first time to help them through this difficult period. Furthermore, for many who find themselves under financial strain as a result of the lockdown, scratch cooking also has an economic appeal. 

In other words, the lockdown has presented a great opportunity for people to gain experience and confidence cooking at home, meaning that many will be keen on building on this foundation and putting their newly acquired culinary skills to good use over the years ahead. 

In fact, a Mintel research revealed that the virus has created a long-term interest in home cooking, with 55% of the nation saying they plan on cooking more from scratch after the coronavirus outbreak than they used to.

How to Respond 

Having this in mind, vegan food brands should focus on promoting home cooking by highlighting all the emotional benefits that come from this activity – such as enjoyment, comfort and pride, as well as the functional and financial aspects of it. 

One big barrier that vegan brands will have to overcome though is the home cooking fatigue which is likely to have set in during the lockdown. Mintel reports that 31% of under-25s are concerned about getting bored of eating the same food as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 

This presents an opportunity for vegan brands and retailers to provide meal inspiration to those who have exhausted their usual repertoires of meals. 

EatingWell, for example, recently ran a social media campaign inviting people to a 30-day vegan dish challenge. This provides daily inspiration for a wide range of ‘healthy plant-packed recipes and hacks to make it vegan for a month’.

EatingWell 30-day vegan dish challenge Pinterest Campaign

Self-treating as an essential feel-good factor 

The perceived need for low-cost mood boosters has perhaps never been greater, particularly in the midst of the uncertainty and political division sparked by Brexit. In a Mintel survey, 28% of people in the UK say they are eating more treats since the outbreak, with people aged 16-24 increasing their treats consumption by 40%. 

However, on the flip side, self-treating is likely to be hindered to a certain extent by the greater emphasis many people have been placing on healthily eating since the start of the pandemic. This is likely to see some people replacing unhealthy treats with better-for-you options such as foods labelled as vegan, organic, gluten-free, non-GMO etc. Furthermore, home baking can also tap into the heightened demand for indulgent treats.

How to Respond

With the increased demand for healthier treats and a shift to plant-based diets, vegan desserts are bound for further growth. This means that vegan food brands should focus on satisfying the sweet tooth of vegans and non-vegans alike, by offering vegan home baking recipes and promoting desserts with health benefits and nutritional value.

This includes vegan desserts with functional ingredients such as matcha, goji, turmeric, black garlic, dragon fruit, hemp, chia, beets, manuka honey, ginger, maca, and more.

Vegan Brand Marketing On Instagram Healthy Chia Pudding

Emotional wellbeing is in the limelight

COVID-19 isolation measures have escalated consumers’ focus on mental health, with levels of stress, anxiety, and feelings of sadness and loneliness surging. 

To illustrate, a study led by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain) and Open Evidence, has revealed that 57% of the people in the UK felt down, depressed or hopeless about the future due to the coronavirus crisis.

How to Respond

This trend demands that vegan food brands forge strong links between their brand and emotional wellbeing in order to appeal to consumers. The marketing theme of treats and bringing people together, for instance, has been gaining a lot of traction lately. 

One memorable example of this is McVitie’s 2019 ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign in partnership with mental health charity, Mind. The aim of this campaign was to promote positive mental health by shedding light on the issue and encouraging people across the UK to “get talking”.

Marketing campaigns around vegan products with similar sentiments would be very relevant in today’s reality of social isolation due to the pandemic and would likely receive lots of positive reactions.

Boosting the immune system becomes a priority

Many consumers are looking for health-boosting nutrition more than ever in order to help protect themselves and their family from the risk of the spreading disease. Within this, the importance of strengthening the immune system has come to the foreground. 

66% of UK adults believe that consuming foods rich in Vitamin C supports the immune system, and 37% say that the pandemic has prompted them to add more nutrients that support the immune system to their diet. 

This is reflected in a Google Trends analysis, the results from which reveals the profound impact of COVID-19 on consumers’ interest in immune-boosting ingredients and herbs globally. The reported data shows a marked rise in searches involving keywords such as Vitamin E, C, D, A, B, turmeric, zinc, ginger, selenium, curcumin, coffee, and garlic. 

Vegan Marketing functional & immune-boosting ingredients - ginger & turmeric How to Respond

“Immune boosting” is a trending topic during the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore, can be used to support sales of products with added health benefits, particularly those which are fortified with vitamins linked to the immune system such as Vitamin C. 

Social media and Instagram, in particular, have played a major role in promoting this trend, with data showing that between April 2020 and May 2020, the popular hashtag #immunebooster increased on Instagram posts by over 46%. 

Interest in this area will likely help vegan brands to market their ‘immune-boosting’ products – both food, supplements or skincare, and further enhance the link between wellness and veganism through their content.

Online food delivery is here to stay

In recent years the rise of takeaway delivery services has completely disrupted the way we eat and order food, and the coronavirus outbreak has only served to accelerate this trend. 

The forced on-premise closures of pubs and restaurants in 2020 meant that the only way for people to replace ‘eating-out’ occasions was by relying on takeaway food delivery services. 

And although lockdown restrictions will eventually be relaxed, the demand for food delivery services is expected to remain. According to the Global Web Index, digital delivery sales are projected to grow at an annual rate of 22% in the next three years, meaning that people will continue to use these services beyond the pandemic. 

Vegan Online Food Delivery Uber Eats

How to Respond 

The increased demand for online food delivery, hand in hand with the rise in interest in plant-based diets, is likely to create a lucrative opportunity for vegan brands to offer food delivery subscriptions and meal boxes. 

Industry leaders like Allplants and Vibrant Vegan are already offering ready-to-eat meals for delivery, and many big chains and independent vegan businesses have their meals available to order on major delivery apps. In fact, recent data shows that in the past year, UK’s Deliveroo has seen a huge 187% increase in vegan orders, with almost 30% of main meal orders during the lockdown being meat-free. 

This information signals a hungry appetite for new vegan and veggie dishes that vegan food brands can satisfy.

To sum it up…

The pandemic has been the catalyst for huge opportunities in the vegan market, characterised by a heightened interest in physical health, emotional wellbeing, and the environment. These changes in consumer behaviour have generated immediate benefits to those already adapting to the new consumer needs, and are likely to leave lasting legacies in the long-term. 

This highlights the need for vegan brands and retailers to act fast and respond to new trends in their industry with effective marketing strategies aimed at capturing the demand.

How effective is your strategy? Our team can help you respond to the rapid changes in consumer preferences in your industry due to the COVID-19 crisis through impactful digital marketing strategies. For more information, please contact our team through the form below!

How SEO will change in 2021: Top 6 SEO trends to follow

Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithms every year. While most changes are minor and won’t have a significant impact on a site’s organic search performance, we have seen several changes and updates that are likely to affect how we plan, implement, and report on campaigns in the upcoming 2021 and beyond. 

In this blog, we have taken a look at these recent changes in the SEO landscape and explained how you can best respond to them in your future campaigns.

What is in store for SEO in 2021

Google December 2020 Core Update to weed out low-quality YMYL content

On December 3rd, 2020 Google rolled out the December 2020 core update, creating a 7-month gap for website owners who were negatively impacted by the May 2020 core update to attempt to recover their traffic and rankings.

This latest core update is a classic “broad core update” that Google releases every few months or so, and like all core updates, it was global and was not specific to any region, language or category of websites.

In the short-term, the timing of the update is likely to cause some devastating disruptions to certain businesses that make a lot of their sales right before the Christmas holidays. Also, early analysis shows major visibility drops and ranking volatility in Desktop search for health, real estate, travel, finance, law and government websites; and in mobile search for health, law and government, jobs and education, pets & animals, and real estate websites. 

In addition, the most striking aspects of this update appear to be the dramatic reversal in visibility amongst several of the best-performing websites in 2020 such as Amazon, Pinterest, CDC, Overstock, CNN, New York Times, and other sites that greatly benefitted due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pinterest decline in visibility after the December 2020 Core Update: 

Image courtesy to Path Interactive

Amazon decline in visibility after the December 2020 Core Update: 

Image courtesy to Path Interactive

So what does this mean for you? 

While it is still very early to make concrete conclusions on how this update will impact businesses in the long-run, one thing is clear – high-quality content that fulfills Google’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) principle will be key in reversing the negative impact of this update and getting back in Google’s good graces.

This principle is especially relevant to business niches that fall under the “your money, your life” (YMYL) label, such as health care, law, and finance. As we highlighted above, these are precisely the industry categories that seem to be the most affected by Google’s latest core update at this stage.

According to Google’s Rater Guidelines, YMYL is a page or topic that gives advice to help people make an important decision or that “could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety”. 

In other words, the stakes are high for this type of content as they can affect a person’s livelihood. When people turn to search engines, they’re looking for the best person to give them an answer that they can trust. 

This means not only do you have to showcase your knowledge, but you also need to back it up with evidence. This is especially important for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages in particular, as we stressed above. 

To give more authority to what you are saying, you need to show the expert behind it; Google’s Rater Guidelines state explicitly:

“The reputation and E-A-T of the creators of the MC [main content] is extremely important when a website has different authors or content creators on different pages.”

Below is an example of a low-quality page where the writer does not have enough expertise and/or the website is not trustworthy in relation to the topic at hand. 

They mention that “There is no evidence that the author has financial expertise.”However, since this is a YMYL topic, the author must have expertise in order to get a high-quality rating. 

In stark contrast, this page on the same topic is considered to deserve a high-quality rating:

The page comes from an authoritative site in the financial sector, the article has a satisfying amount of high-quality main content on the topic at hand, and the author has proven expertise in the field as evident from his profile description. 

To sum it up, this means that going into 2021, pages containing YMYL content will need to have specialised expertise behind them to ensure they send the right kind of quality signals to Google. 

And while you can’t optimise for E-A-T because it is not an algorithm, you can implement the following few changes to help expand your reach and authority in the eyes of your users as well as in the search algorithms of Google: 

  • Gather positive reviews on various online platforms
  • Backlink to and from authoritative sources
  • Get mentions on forums and other authoritative websites 
  • Include author names & biographies for all editorial content: for blog posts, this means that information about the author needs to be available in order to evaluate whether they are a suitable expert for the topic at hand.
  • Invest in Personal Branding through social media marketing to develop a positive reputation in your industry, connect with your online audience, and earn third-party endorsements.
  • Edit/Remove low E-A-T Content

E-A-T Success Story: Medical site sees great gains after beefing up author E-A-T

This business is a UK-based specialist private health care provider. The client came to us after a strong hit connected with a Google quality update in 2017. When we began working together, their website was between development cycles and was not E-A-T or YMYL-friendly. 

Most of the changes that we recommended centered around E-A-T:

  • Adding author profiles to each of their posts. Each profile boasted about the author’s E-A-T and provided information on specialist areas, credentials, qualifications, awards, etc. 
  • Developing high-quality backlinks from authority sites in the health field towards the homepage and other key pages. 
  • Rebuilding the site’s content hierarchy to improve navigation and overall site architecture. 
  • Trimming out/optimising thin content that was not compliant with Google’s guidelines, and providing content templates to ensure all new content was E-A-T and YMYL-friendly. 
  • Implementing Medical / Doctor Schema.
  • Taking advantage of any internal linking opportunities. 

As a result, the client saw a significant uplift in organic traffic of 170% just within the first year of our partnership; since then their organic traffic has almost quadrupled, leading to massive improvements in their visibility and other KPIs. 

Voice search will impact search queries

Current statistics show that in 2020, more than half of all smartphone users will engage with voice technology on their device. Moreover, the percentage of households predicted to own a smart speaker by 2022 is 55%. This suggests an enormous rise in voice search, as well as increased adoption of smart speakers.

Therefore, as voice search becomes increasingly popular, and connected devices keep adding and enhancing voice-enabled functions; marketers will have to regularly fine-tune their SEO strategy to optimise for voice search moving forward. 

A good place to start from is by creating voice search FAQ pages. Why? Firstly, because a good chunk of voice searches are long, question-based queries. Also, a Backlinko survey found that Google prefers short, concise, and easy-to-read answers to voice search queries, with the typical voice search result being only 29 words in length.

FAQ pages check both of these boxes. That’s probably why voice search results are 1.7x more likely to come from an FAQ page compared to desktop results.

For example, if you do a voice search for “How do home insurance claims work?”, this is the result that comes up:

It appears that the source of this answer comes from this FAQ page:

This is just one of the many ways you can optimise your site for voice search queries. Here are a few more ideas: 

  • use natural or conversational language when writing content: with improved and reliable voice recognition systems, voice technology is well adapted to follow everyday language use. 
  • implement long-tail keywords because spoken language usually isn’t as concise as the written word, and you would need longer keyword phrases in order to secure a conversion. 
  • Use question words: start some paragraphs with questions, using “what”, “how”, “why”, “when”, as these words are more frequently used when users perform voice searches;
  • Local information for your brand should be provided to meet the increased search volume for local businesses with voice. 

Featured snippets will become more prominent

Featured snippets, which were rolled out in 2017, provide a brief summary of an answer to a search query and are usually displayed in a special box at the top of the SERP result, above paid and organic content.

While featured snippets have been around for a few years now, they have been gaining more prominence lately since Google has started taking users directly to the answer. Instead of loading the webpage as normal, some browsers would now automatically scroll to the section of the webpage from which the content was taken, highlighting the text in bright yellow.

Although it is very useful and convenient for internet users, it is also detrimental to websites whose content does not make it to Google’s featured snippets. Data shows that around 55% of website clicks from Google’s search results pages come from featured snippets.

So if you’re able to get your content in the featured snippet, you can give your organic click-through-rate a serious boost. Furthermore, appearing in featured snippets can be extremely helpful for voice search SEO. According to a recent survey, 40.7% of all voice search results came from a featured snippet. 

With all this in mind, it is, therefore, crucial to know how you can make it so that your website stands a better chance of appearing as a SERP feature going forward. 

How to optimise for SERP features: 

Most importantly, you would want to use words that are likely to generate featured snippets.  A study by the STAT Search Analytics team revealed queries (grouped based on common themes) that returned snippets more often.

Queries with high featured snippet occurrence

In the same study, results also revealed words that were less likely to rank in the snippets.

Queries with low featured snippet occurrence

Other strategies you can work on include: 

  • Know the keywords your readers are using to ask questions (typically, inquiries that fall into the “how does”, “how to”, “how do”, “what is” categories). 
  • Work to provide the best answer possible: answer users’ questions in a brief form by breaking down each step in your answer and using visual content to back it up such as videos, infographics, and screenshots.
  • Use schema markup and tag your products with schema alerts to optimise for rich snippets and make your site more appealing in SERP;
  • Use Q-and-A pages featuring all relevant questions, where each is well-formatted with a complete answer.

Google my Business will play a larger role in local search listings

According to Safari Digital, 46% of all searches in Google have local intent. In addition to that, more than a billion people use Google Maps every month, and many of them do that to find businesses nearby, check their ratings, read customers’ reviews, find their contact information, and so on. 

The pandemic has only served to accelerate these trends as people are searching for local businesses more actively, making Google My Business (GMB) a crucial part of any local search optimisation strategy. Without a well-optimised GMB listing, your chances of appearing in Google features like the Local Pack and Maps are going to be slim. 

So, what does an optimised Google My Business profile look like? Before we get into our recommendations, let’s see what an optimised Business Profile looks like and versus an example of an incomplete and unoptimised one.

Here, the Tc.Dc Autos Car Wash Google Business Profile is a short box, but the Glasgow Apple store’s Business Profile would show even more when you scroll. When you compare the two, you can clearly see how much more attractive and engaging the optimised listing is, and that it definitely succeeds at building trust with the customers. Below you can find some useful tips on how you can achieve this for your own business as well. 

How to optimise for Google My Business: 

Once you have created a Google account, claimed your business, and verified it and its location, you should do the following:

  • Set up users with proper access to your account.
  • Optimise your business information (name, address, phone, opening hours, categories, etc.) and make sure to edit it as soon as changes happen. 
  • Add high-quality images, videos, and virtual tours.
  • Add products, services or menu as appropriate.
  • Write a complete, informative description;
  • Pre-populate Q&A on your listing.
  • Consider enabling Google Assistant and / or direct messaging.
  • Consider enabling Reserve with Google if appropriate.
  • Encourage, monitor and respond to reviews.
  • Check and update your listing regularly.
  • Get support for GMB questions, problems or suspensions.

Under-Optimised GMB Leaves Millions in Revenue on the Table 

The local team at Boyd Digital helped generate millions in real estate agency fees via GMB phone calls, while working on a project for Countrywide PLC.  

The project mainly focused on:

  • Creating and tracking hundreds of local branch Google My Business profiles to ramp up visibility.
  • Fully optimising all GMB accounts by populating them with clear and accurate business descriptions, location and contact information, and opening hours. (all of this appeared on Google Maps searches, allowing customers to quickly discover and contact the company).
  • Encouraging customers to share their experience via reviews and ratings. 

As a result, we were able to push competitors out of the Local Pack and increase Countrywide’s  incremental sales. 

If you have multiple business units and want to be best in your service areas, our local SEO team can help position your business to attract potential customers, increase your local authority and ultimately, grow your revenue. For more information, make sure to drop us a line in the form below.

Outstanding User Experience will become crucial to SEO

Along with high-quality content – which has been in the centre of the spotlight with every major Google update so far, you will also need great user experience (UX) in order to compete for the first positions in SERPs in 2021. 

But why is UX so important? Well, it has been proven that even a 1-second delay in page load time can result in a massive loss for your business. In fact, Web FX stats show that “89% of consumers shop with a competitor after a poor website user experience”. The same study also tells us that “75% of website credibility comes from website design.” 

In other words, no matter how good your content is, none of that matters if your web page doesn’t load quickly or if it has a complex user interface.

For the past few years Google has been moving away from solely ranking for search terms and is now seeking to provide users with the most relevant information that best answers their queries. 

The introduction of RankBrain in 2015 was a significant step towards rolling out UX elements into SEO practices. RankBrain is driven by behaviour metrics, including pages per session, bounce rate, dwell time, and organic CTR. Essentially, these metrics inform Google whether you provide a good UX, and as a consequence, your ranking will either improve or worsen. 

Furthermore, in 2019, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing, meaning the search engine looks primarily at the mobile version of a website, considering this the “primary” version instead of the desktop version. Having in mind that “72% of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025”, this change makes a lot of sense.

We now also know that Google is set to launch another major update in May 2021 which is going to be geared towards providing more user-focused and user-friendly results by improving the UX on a particular page. When the Page Experience update goes live, Google said it will test various ways to display a “visual indicator” in the search results that will inform a searcher if a specific search result is expected to have a great experience. 

Page experience is made up of several existing Google search ranking factors called Core Web Vitals. The Core Web Vitals are user-centered metrics that give scores on aspects of your pages including load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads. As a result, the websites at the top of SERP will be much better from a technical perspective in the future.

In a nutshell, it is clear that optimising for quality user experience will be key to the long-term success of any website in the future. 

What you can do about it 

We know that Google’s May 2021 core update will combine Core Web Vitals metrics with Google’s existing signals to determine the quality of UX a certain page provides.

This means that downloading the “Web Vitals” Chrome extension would be a good idea. The extension is very easy to use and it provides instant feedback on loading, interactivity and layout shift metrics.

In addition to this, you also shouldn’t forget to regularly check how quickly your webpages load through Google PageSpeed Insights. The tool will provide you with information about your site’s performance for desktop and mobile devices and show you useful tips on improving it.

Media-rich content will become even more popular

Following on from the rise of video optimisation for web and video marketing, media-rich content such as video and imagery (either photography or infographic-style images) will play a significant role in SERPs in 2021. 

According to a Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to show up on the first page of SERP than a web page with plain text. If it’s not enough, 62% of Google universal searches include video.

In general, videos are also believed to increase the time users spend on your website before bouncing out (dwell time), which is a key UX element and also an important metric that offers a great insight into the satisfaction of the web searcher. We expect search engines to place more crucial value on dwell time in 2021. 

How to use media-rich content in your SEO strategy: 

Adding product videos is perhaps the most common way that online retailers utilise video in their SEO strategy to increase conversions. According to Invodo, 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them feel more confident about going ahead and making a purchase.

This can be especially true for big-ticket purchases such as the Shark vacuum cleaner above, where the sleek product video serves to reassure the customer of the quality and value of the product. 

When it comes to service-focused businesses, explainer videos can be very effective in increasing conversions. For example, Dropbox found that they increased their conversion rate by over 10% by adding this video to their homepage. With their homepage receiving over 750,000 visitors a month, this means that the video helped to increase signups by several thousand every day and no doubt generated a huge ROI. 

Here are a few ways you can start using video and imagery in your own SEO strategy: 

  • Use high-quality, relevant images on your website. 
  • Add alt tags to your images and customise the file name, labeling the photo file so that it’s relevant to the content on the corresponding page. 
  • Add images to your site map, where they are even easier to crawl. 
  • Create a business YouTube channel and post videos regularly because YouTube recommends videos from active content makers. 
  • Design videos with a specific goal in mind and don’t forget to include Calls-to-Action. 
  • Embed videos on your website. 
  • Create high-quality thumbnails to encourage people to click on your videos.
  • Add key information for SEO: target keywords in the tags, links, description, and title to make it easier for users to find your content.
  • Analyse your performance, and plan future content. 

Don’t Let Your Video Work Go to Waste

With over 30 million regular daily users, YouTube is the world’s largest video hosting platform and also, the world’s second biggest search engine after Google. Using YouTube for your business can help you appear in Google top SERPs, increase your audience, drive traffic to your website, and help your business be found by people who are searching for your services. 

However, in order to see any results, your videos must be optimised. 

Here at Boyd Digital, our SEO experts make sure your lovingly created video content generates the conversions, traffic and views it deserves. 

We are experienced at safely integrating large video libraries with your websites while applying the relevant Schema and ensuring site speed is not affected. By combining the right video content with our advanced search engine optimisation practices, we can drive millions of Channel views and a constant stream of click-throughs. 

Conclusion

To sum it up, trends are changing day by day. This means that you can’t just optimise your website once and stay on top of SERP forever. SEO is an on-going process that requires a lot of effort and regular improvements. 

So, as we move towards 2021, make sure you go through this checklist:

  • Prioritise high-quality content by applying Google’s E-A-T principle where appropriate. 
  • Take advantage of existing SERP features by optimising your content. 
  • Optimise your site for voice search. 
  • Create a Google My Business account if you have a local company with a physical location and make sure to update it regularly. 
  • Measure your website’s user experience by using the new Core Web Vitals metrics.
  • Incorporate media-rich content into your SEO strategy. 

Though it may not be an overnight change, it is essential to start working on your SEO now, so your website will have better chances to rank higher in the upcoming year.

If you’d like support in responding to Google’s latest updates and SEO changes, our team can help you prepare an effective SEO strategy for 2021 that addresses your business’ unique needs.

For more information, please contact our team through the form below!

Drop us a line!