Creating a stir

Six people smile as they stand in front of a giant billboard. The billboard shows zoomed in curious-looking faces mouthing 'oooh', as text reads 'Fancy a frothy fling?'
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Creating a stir

By Alex Robinson, 14th May 2024

A cultural shift that starts in your cuppa

You’ve heard it a thousand times: ‘you are what you eat’. It’s almost impossible to disentangle our identities from what’s on our plates. So it’s no wonder that the shift to more sustainable diets required to tackle the climate and nature crises – and hit the UK’s net zero goals – is proving a tough nut to crack.

Our insight shows that milk is a great place to start the conversation. We’re a nation of tea and coffee drinkers, never far from our next cuppa. And for two-thirds of us, that means dairy milk every time. But our research shows people’s hot drink habits could be about to change: over half of Brits are open to drinking less dairy but haven’t made the switch yet. In fact, a quarter of us have never tried a non-dairy alternative.

That’s why we’re launching a playful new campaign to help the plant-curious among us explore the world of oat, soy, almond and more. It highlights the choice and flavours available, calling on those who love a brew to “find your oooh without the moo”.

Creating a stir

Although almond and soy milk have been around since at least the Middle Ages, they might feel like a recent trend. Sales have exploded over the last few years, with oat milk emerging as the dominant player in the category.  

Despite a bit of a media backlash in recent months, it’s clear that plant milk is here to stay. One in four Brits now say they are eating less meat and dairy to benefit the environment and plant milks are a great place to start. Their environmental credentials are impressive, too: oat, almond and soy generate at least 68% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than dairy milk. So what’s stopping people from making the switch?

The main barrier is money. Over half of Brits believe that eating plant-based food is more expensive than eating meat and dairy. Though some supermarkets and coffee shops now offer dairy free alternatives for the same price as milk, cost is still a barrier for many – and in our focus groups, the perceived cost of plant milk was the number one reason people were hesitant to give it a try.

For plant milks to become mainstream, they will have to be both appealing and accessible. The former is going well: people who’ve tried it generally like the taste, and brands are building loyal audiences and introducing new products to compete with the flavour and frothiness of dairy milk.  

Accessibility is more of a challenge: it’s about affordability and convenience. Retail and hospitality businesses can play a role here: by giving plant milks the same visibility as dairy, or closing the price gap, they can help people to make pro-environmental choices – and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions too.

Milking it

You might have read about the legal wrangles which mean that plant-based alternatives aren’t even allowed to use the word ‘milk’ on the carton in case it confuses people. Our campaign film speaks to the sceptics amongst us by tackling the biggest of the big issues head on: how do you milk a nut?

We wanted to show that flavour and environmental responsibility can go hand-in-cup. Finding the right plant milk for you, whether it's hazelnut in your hot chocolate or oat in your latte, can truly hit the spot.

Research shows most people first try plant milks when they’re out and about. That's why we're targeting commuters on their way to work with billboards and posters near coffee shops, train stations, and on the tube. We’re also running podcast ads and influencer collaborations, to reach people wherever they get their caffeine fix. If you spot them on your travels – IRL or online - I’d love to know what you think.

Swapping dairy milk might seem small (and it is!), but that's the beauty of it. It’s a cultural shift that starts in your cuppa.

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