Waitrose’s new plant milk isn’t small potatoes

Stephan ShakespeareCEO and Co-Founder
November 10, 2021, 10:41 AM UTC

We’ve had coconut milk, oat milk, and so - as Waitrose’s annual food and drink report intoned – “now it is the turn of the potato.” The supermarket will, from February 2021, be selling “Dug”, a Swedish alt-milk designed for sustainability, in a move to appeal to consumers who are keen to consume fewer animal-based products.

Data from YouGov BrandIndex shows that it may also be a savvy commercial decision. Consumers who identify as flexitarian (11%), vegan (5%), or vegetarian (5%) – a group that now makes up a fifth of the population – are more likely to shop at Waitrose. Current Customer scores, which measure whether consumers have bought groceries from a particular supermarket in the past 30 days, sit at 17.1 for this group compared to 13.4 for the general population. 

What’s more, people who have limited the animal products in their diets are more likely to have a positive view of Waitrose across several other metrics. With Satisfaction scores at 36.8 compared to 26.5 for the public, flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans are more likely to have enjoyed their experience at Waitrose. And with Quality scores at 54.9 compared to 49.5 for the wider population, a higher proportion also have a positive opinion of its products. This could well translate to higher future sales too (as well as the retention of existing customers): Purchase Intent among this group is four points higher than it is with Britons overall (8.9 vs 4.9).

Where it performs less impressively is in terms of Reputation (which tracks whether consumers would be proud or embarrassed to work for a particular brand): scores across this metric are actually lower among these selective eaters than they are among the public (31.9 vs. 34.5). Waitrose has been attempting to curry goodwill among ethically and sustainably minded consumers for a long time now, and its emphasis on “plant milks” could suggest that it knows it has a little more to fully win them over.

This article originally appeared in City AM