EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. — Beyond Meat cofounder Brent Taylor is targeting an overlooked demographic with Perennial, a plant-based nutrition drink designed for consumers ages 50 and older.
Mr. Taylor launched the brand in 2019 alongside Sara Bonham, a food scientist with experience at General Mills and Nature’s Emporium. The pair spent two years developing the brand’s flagship beverage, which delivers a host of benefits around bone, muscle, gut and brain health.
“Perennial focuses on adults (over 50) with tailored, plant-based nutrition because quite simply, no other brand is doing so,” Mr. Taylor said. “While ‘adult nutrition’ has been historically defined by incumbent brands associated with sickness or surgery recovery, it is time for a brand that brings solutions starting in active health maintenance for modern adults.”
Less than 1% of global innovation is targeted at older adults, but the founders see “endless” opportunities for the forgotten demographic. While the plant-based trend has been associated with younger consumers, older adults are driven to plant-based products because of the inherent answers they provide to healthy aging, including cholesterol reduction, defense to lactose intolerance, added protein and inflammation reduction, Mr. Taylor said. Research also shows staying mentally sharp is equally if not more important to older consumers than other physical attributes.
“Modern adults (over 50) are an incredibly savvy generation and do their research on ingredients and health benefits associated with nutrition, a common misunderstanding,” Ms. Bonham said. “In fact, they are also drawing the connection of gut health to immunity, since 70% of the immune system is in the gut and it contains 10 times more health-determining bacteria than the rest of the body.”
“Modern adults (over 50) are an incredibly savvy generation and do their research on ingredients and health benefits associated with nutrition.”
— Sara Bonham, Perennial
Perennial offers a nutrient dense, plant-based mini meal or snack of 140 calories primarily crafted to deliver gut and brain health benefits. Available in vanilla and chocolate flavors, the beverage features DHA omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibers and sunflower oil. Each serving contains 11 essential vitamins and minerals, including folate, choline, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins D3, B12, B6, E, C and A.
With the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increasing with age, Perennial’s focus on gut health and prebiotic supplementation has resonated with the brand’s target consumer during the pandemic, Ms. Bonham said.
The founders launched the product online on Amazon in order to innovate quickly and learn from the consumer fast before entering stores.
“The online channel provides a quick means of generating consumer insights, which is not always possible in brick-and-mortar channels,” Mr. Taylor said. “Anecdotally consumer shoppers (over 50) do prefer to purchase groceries in-store. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic considerably changed this equation and we’re still learning about how this will impact go-forward behavior.”
The founders are eyeing opportunities in traditional retail and see potential for a full platform of plant-based products geared toward older consumers with active lifestyles.
“Long term, Perennial sees a tremendous opportunity to reimagine the current ‘adult nutrition’ section of the brick-and-mortar store, which is currently primarily occupied by two brands,” Mr. Taylor said.