If it seems like meatless burgers are everywhere, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic hit America in the spring, it’s because they are, with national TV campaigns, retail deals and fast food alliances rolling out constantly.
The latest evidence: Commercials for Lightlife and Morningstar Farms’ Incogmeato are airing during Bravo’s well-watched Real Housewives and other top-rated series, and fierce rivals Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are making announcements, almost weekly, about their broadening omnichannel footprints.
Against that backdrop, Los Angeles-based Beyond debuted its dedicated ecommerce platform on Thursday, creating a direct pipeline to consumers who are increasingly bypassing brick-and-mortar retail.
The goal of the site is to “make it as easy as possible for people to fit our plant-based meats into their lifestyle,” said Chuck Muth, chief growth officer. “As consumers’ shopping habits have expanded to include more grocery delivery, this is a moment to empower people and offer yet another touchpoint.”
Beyond, which recently launched its first TV ad during the NBA Playoffs, made retail its first stop in the march to ubiquity. So far it counts Costco, Target, Vons and Fred Meyer among its 26,000 partners. Recently signed deals with Sam’s Club and BJ’s Warehouse will embed the brand further in membership stores.
Beyond’s direct-to-consumer site will offer combo packs, mixed-product bundles and limited-time digital-only offers, shipped in two days in recyclable boxes. It will put the brand closer to its buyers, providing valuable feedback, and serve as a test kitchen of sorts for new plant-based proteins. (Burgers are still ultra hot, though 2020 has been the year of faux sausage and chicken-less chicken).
Beyond, 2019’s IPO darling, saw its retail revenue grow 192% in the second quarter, year over year, and reported record revenues of $113 million, a 69% boost, according to Muth. The brand’s household penetration increased 40% between January and June, he said.
Both Beyond and Impossible, which have seen triple digit sales spikes during the public health crisis, are touting their accessibility at a time when consumers are rethinking (and reducing) their meat consumption, citing health and environmental concerns, and changing their buying habits. Both brands are stocked on Amazon and various grocery partners’ online sites.
Impossible has its own direct-to-consumer channel, stocked mainly with bulk products like 5-pound packages and 10 pre-made quarter-pound burgers. It launched in June as one of the first in the category, has exceeded internal expectations and logged “an order from every state almost immediately,” said Jessica Appelgren, vp of communications. The brand also sells through services like Instacart, Cheetah and Postmates.
The Silicon Valley-based startup, which had leaned heavily into sampling and events prepandemic, dipped its toe back into experiential marketing this week via a drive-through car wash in L.A.
That stunt, which logged nearly 800 consumers in 10 hours, introduced its first two-pack of premade patties, now on sale at its 10,000-plus national retail partners.