Veganuary Marketing – A Masterclass in Following Trends

Aoife Daly 3 weeks ago

Trends: they pop up out of nowhere and leave your marketing plans feeling like old news. Staying on the ball may seem impossible in an ever-changing market, but doing so can attract a brand new audience to your business and open up a world of opportunities.

One of the best examples of a popular trend is Veganuary, which is a month-long pledge to eat solely plant-based food. The official charity passed 225,000 official sign-ups within the first week of the campaign’s start in 2019, a huge number when totalled with the many other full-time vegans already out there. There had been plenty of talk about veganism before the annual pledge came about, with 2019 being declared the ‘year of the vegan’ by The Economist after years of consistent growth.

This insight gave businesses time to plan how they could capitalise on such a huge societal trend, with supermarkets and restaurants, in particular, paying attention to expanding their current plant-based offering. We take a look at how these businesses have marketed new products based off of this trend and how you can jump on any bandwagon successfully.

Greggs - an all-out social campaign

Vegan or not, it’s safe to say that nobody missed the news of Gregg’s vegan sausage roll thanks to the extensive social media campaign that kicked it off.

The launch of the vegan sausage roll started with an ingenious video that parodied that of an Apple release. The genius campaign didn’t stop there though; Greggs sent the sausage roll to journalists for review, choosing to package it like an iPhone for a tongue in cheek approach to this highly anticipated announcement.

All of this was impressive, but it was the social side of things that made Greggs a winner in our book. All of its team’s efforts meant that news of the vegan sausage roll travelled fast, reaching the eyes of controversial journalist Piers Morgan, who has over 6.53 million followers on Twitter.

The ensuing battle of Tweets was not only hilarious but very well handled by Greggs, going back and forth but remaining playful in tone. The chain responded to any other critics in a similar nature, resulting in some hilarious responses that were retweeted by thousands.

The debate between Piers and Greggs resulted in the campaign reaching more people than it may have before, with multiple news outlets reporting on his reaction to the sausage roll. Whether people agreed with the creation of a vegan sausage roll or not was completely irrelevant - Greggs successfully brought their product into the limelight and sold thousands. In fact, Plant Based News stated that the vegan sausage roll is “the fastest selling new product Greggs has launched in six years”.

Take away point: Investing in social media is an amazing way of getting news out there, especially when paired with a quirky video or graphic. Reaching the right people is easier than ever thanks to social media, so make the most of it by joining the bandwagon using one of the many platforms.

Come up with quirky hashtags, reply to comments and keep pushing the trend via your social media by getting additional creative content out there. If you do end up with negative comments, be playful rather than patronising or pushy so everyone can be in on the joke. The bigger the trend, the number of people searching for it is certain to grow. Whether you’re releasing a new product or putting a fun twist on your services, social media gets people talking and can help attract a completely new audience.

M&S - thinking outside the box

The first thing that pops into your mind when thinking of veganism is food, but there’s actually plenty more areas to target. Clothes, beauty, shoes and skincare all play a part in veganism as they don’t use any material that was derived for an animal. This includes leather, wool and certain types of glue, giving vegans - and businesses - plenty to think about.

As well as releasing a huge range of plant-based food in time for Veganuary, M&S took the road less travelled by launching a new vegan footwear range. Consisting of 350 stylish shoes from slippers to heels, the range has been hailed by everyone from The Daily Mail to PETA.

In fact, the launch was so successful that PETA awarded M&S with the very first ‘Vegan-Friendly High Street Retailer’ award. Being recognised by such a well-known group is sure to put M&S in the spotlight when it comes to vegan food and fashion, showing that it always pays to think outside the box.

Take away point: There’s plenty of food options available for this type of trend, but M&S really set themselves apart by going down a different route. See how you can approach the trend differently and set yourself apart from your competitors by exploring more than just the obvious.

There’s no point jumping into an oversaturated market if you can’t offer something new. It’s not good to be too late to the game when it comes to trends, but take some time to consider how to really tackle it rather than jumping straight in. This way you can get a glimpse of what’s already on the market, how your competitors are tackling the trend and, more importantly, how you can make your mark.

Pizza Hut - incentives

Vegans all over the world waited with bated breath to see if a new pizza was on the horizon, and Pizza Hut certainly delivered. Despite already having a vegan option on the menu, Pizza Hut still managed to join in with Veganuary by launching a new version called the ‘The Jack ‘N’ Ch**se’.

Unlike other businesses, Pizza Hut decided to make no promises when it came to how long its vegan offering would be on the menu. Instead, fans of the pizza were told that it would stay if 10,000 Jack ‘N’ Ch**se’ pizzas were sold, going so far as to create a virtual ‘Vegan-O-Metre’ so fans could keep track of the numbers - and they achieved it! 'The Jack 'N' Ch**se' pizza will be a permanent fixture from March onwards.

It may be a more obvious way of getting the target audience through the doors, but highly effective just the same. This part of the campaign encouraged people to visit the chain more than they regularly would in hopes of keeping the tasty treat on the menu.

Pizza Hut didn’t stop the incentives there though, offering diners the chance to win a £100 gift card. All they had to do was upload a photo of their vegan pizza to Instagram and use their #IWantYouJack tag. With hundreds of posts on Instagram and plenty more on Twitter using this hashtag, it’s clearly getting some traction.

Take away point: Incentive marketing is a great way of enticing customers to rush out and purchase products. Pizza Hut has done this incredibly well, proving that offering an incentive doesn’t always mean giving away tons of free products. While the brand is offering a £100 gift card, this is a small amount to pay for the attention garnered by hundreds of people using the unusual hashtag.

There is more to incentive marketing than meets the eye and it isn’t always as obvious as it seems. While Pizza Hut has a clear agenda of selling as many vegan pizzas as possible, you could be more subtle with your incentive. Consider what you can offer your customer that no one else can, such as offering exclusive products or discount codes based around the trend upon signing up for a newsletter or loyalty card.

With Veganuary coming to an end, we hope you've taken some ideas from this post about how to incorporate a trend into your marketing strategy, all of which can launch your brand straight into the arms of a new audience. Make the most of social media and you’ll be able to stay on top of what’s popular, resulting in a relatable brand identity. Why not get ahead of the game by making plans for popular monthly events? Whether it’s Mo-vember, popular sporting events or a crazy YouTube challenge, there’s plenty to get stuck into.

Be sure to get your content calendar in order, and plan in advance for these big societal trends!

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