Advertising Plant-based Meat Alternatives: The Relative Effectiveness of Informational, Emotional, and Combined Messages

Johannes Deuss & Gabija Nainyte

Student thesis: Master thesis


The following work aims to examine the relative effect of emotional messages in plant-based food marketing. Based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) we assume that persuasive communication can either happen through a central (informational) or peripheral (emotional) route. Research has shown that marketing for meat-based products predominantly uses emotional messages, whereas marketing for plant-based products heavily relies on informational messages (Papies et al., 2020). Considering the relevance of a plant-based diet from an environmental, health, animal, and business perspective, we aim to shed light on consumers’ decision-making processes and the possibility to boost plant-based product consumption through more emotional messages. We extend current literature by investigating the relative effectiveness of emotional, informational, and combined advertising for plant-based meat alternatives. Specifically, we hypothesize that emotional messages have a more positive effect on the consumers’ product attitude, brand attitude, purchase intention, and brand recall than informational messages. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the motivation, ability, and opportunity to process information moderate this effect, and eating simulation, activation, moral obligations, and ad’s credibility potentially mediate this effect. Using an online-based survey with a selfmade experimental manipulation we collected data from 211 participants. While we found no support for our hypotheses, the findings yield some important theoretical and practical implications. Whereas the benefits of focusing on emotional messages in marketing communication for plant-based products are limited, the results suggest that enhancing eating simulation, activation, and ad’s credibility has a positive effect on consumers’ attitudes and intended behavior.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages123
SupervisorsFlorian Kock