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Veganuary: The Brands That went Greener

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As the final Christmas hangovers and lie-ins wear off, the beginning of the year signals a new start – and for many, a new lifestyle.

Veganuary – a pledge which has been designed for people to attempt to eat an entirely plant-based diet throughout the month of January – has seen enormous growth in recent years. In 2018 the campaign grew by 183%, with 168,542 taking the vegan pledge and in 2019, more than a quarter of a million people took on the challenge.

Social Media provides the perfect playground for growth for Veganuary due to its ease of reach and shareable information. With the new decade set to provide plenty of opportunities for vegan product marketing due to the ever-growing plant-based population, we’ve taken a look at some of the brands who’ve already taken the jump when it comes to providing their audience with a cleaner and greener alternative. Some have launched to great success, others…not so much.

Greggs

At the beginning of 2019, leading UK bakery chain Greggs sent shockwaves throughout the vegan and carnivorous communities alike when they announced the launch of their Vegan Sausage Roll. Greggs realised that the launch probably wouldn’t be met with widespread approval (we’re looking at you, Piers) so they made sure to engage with any negativity using their wit and humour, achieving significant positive sentiment for the brand.

The result of the launch and subsequent campaign were unprecedented. In the six months up to the end of June, pre-tax profits were up to £40.6m from £25.7 in the same period for the previous year. Staff at the company were recently given a £300 bonus each as a reward for such a standout year, and now the Bakery have just launched their Vegan Steak Bake. We’d call that a successful campaign!

Heinz

As an already well-established brand, many people question whether Heinz would ever need a brand refresh. But as we all know, the best brands never stand still.

Tweaking their usual ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ slogan for something a little more relevant during Veganuary, the brand have been able to somewhat dismiss the perception that going vegan can take its toll on the purse strings. It remains to be seen how the campaign will affect Heinz’s sales during this period but if you ask us, it’s an easy win.

Burger King

Whilst the opportunity to make money from the plant-based market is proving to be lucrative for many brands, businesses still need to tread carefully. Some brands have fallen foul of what many would deem ‘false advertising’, most recently in the case of popular worldwide fast food chain Burger King.

On the 6th January the company announced that they’d be introducing their Rebel Whopper, advertised as their first plant-based offering. All seems well, right? Nope!

After doing a little digging, customers soon found that not only did the burger contain mayonnaise (an animal product), but that the patties were also cooked on the same grills as BK’s usual signature patties – making the product unsuitable for both vegans and vegetarians.

Danny wasn’t impressed.
Burger King pointed out in a later tweet that the burger isn’t actually labelled for vegetarians or vegans…

This is a lesson in market research for the brand, who have now found out to their detriment that aiming a new product at the plant-based market doesn’t come without its obstacles.

To summarise, we think it’s clear to see that there’s a massive opportunity for many food and catering brands to dive into the plant-based food market (the statistics prove it) not only during Veganuary, but all year round. What needs to be taken into account when making the jump though is the importance for brands to make sure that all bases are covered before launch. In the modern age of allergies and diet lifestyle adjustments, the stakes (and potential rewards) have never been higher.

If you’re a food retailer or restaurant who’d like to chat to us about what we can do for you in 2020, you can get in touch today or even take a look at this case study for our award winning campaign with fruit and veg retailer M Hughes.