In addition to currently skewing negative compared to other plant-based dairy products, an analysis of plant-based cheese ratings over time in Figure 3D reveal a veritable rocky road of nominal progress. In particular, the jump in 1 and 2 star reviews seen in 2015-2016 can be largely attributed to the poor nutritional profile of products from one of the industry’s major players; a time before vegan cheese ingredients became more sophisticated and healthy. We can see that even though plant-based cheese has rebounded from the 2015-2016 rough-patch where consumer dissatisfaction approached 50%, the current levels of 1 and 2 star ratings have held steady at roughly 1/4 of all reviewers. While a recent 2021 up-tick in 4-star ratings might signal progress, it nonetheless appears that current plant-based cheese offerings leave much to be desired.
To learn the nuance behind the numbers, we used advanced text analytics to investigate the content of product reviews in aggregate for each category. This analysis involves coupling natural language processing with a generative statistical model known as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). This method ultimately produces a “topic model” that reveals the overarching and pervasive themes and sub-themes within bodies of text. Practically speaking, this approach allows us to comprehensively and equitably parse and summarize the contents of thousands of product reviews to reveal poignant topics that show up throughout. Furthermore, retrospective topic-brand imprint mapping can reveal the degree to which different brands and products contribute to topic formation. Ultimately, this customized, proprietary process can reveal both the sweeping product attributes and performance quality metrics consumers care about the most, and the degree to which different products in the review corpus perform along those metrics.
Figure 4) Plant-Based Milk Purchase Criteria Landscape