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The impact of product name on consumer responses to meat alternatives

Tian Ye (School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)
Anna S. Mattila (School of Hospitality Management, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, USA)
Shanshan Dai (School of Economics and Management, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 3 November 2022

Issue publication date: 7 February 2023




With the recent surge of plant-based menu items, it is critical to understand how to effectively communicate such products to consumers. This study aims to examine the impact of various descriptive names on consumers’ responses to novel meat alternatives in China, one of the emerging yet unexplored markets.


Two studies were conducted using a single factor ([descriptive name: “Renzao Rou [artificial meat]” vs “Sushi Rou [vegetarian/vegan meat]” vs “Zhiwu Rou” [plant-based meat]) between-subjects experimental design.


Study 1 shows that “Sushi Rou” and “Zhiwu Rou,” triggering more positive name associations, led to higher future consumption intention than “Renzao Rou.” A qualitative analysis demonstrates the differences in the name associations. Study 2 replicates the naming effect and examines the role of specific product attributes. Perceived health, naturalness and novelty are the main drivers of favorable responses to “Zhiwu Rou” (vs “Renzao Rou”), whereas perceived health, taste and naturalness mediate the positive effect for “Sushi Rou” (vs “Renzao Rou”).

Practical implications

Food service operators interested in introducing meat alternatives in China should carefully choose the product name to attract specific segments. International chains should consider cultural norms when expanding to emerging markets.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to reveal the product naming effect on meat alternative products from the perspective of marketing communications. It contributes to a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanism driving Chinese consumers’ responses.



Ye, T., Mattila, A.S. and Dai, S. (2023), "The impact of product name on consumer responses to meat alternatives", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 1051-1067.



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