As the tenth anniversary of Veganuary approaches, the plant-powered movement is quite rightly no longer a niche trend but a marketing powerhouse.
With 1.4 million UK residents embracing a vegan lifestyle, hospitality businesses continue to dive into the green wave. At Custard, we’ve dived into why this trend is vital for a brands success, and how they can stand out from the noise but also why it should be recognised as a key response to satisfying consumer behaviour and demand which is after all what marketing is all about.
Veganuary has witnessed a remarkable journey, with sign-ups skyrocketing from 12,800 in 2014 to 706,965 in 2023, signifying a cultural shift. The challenge now is for brands to cut through the noise and position themselves effectively in the now saturated market and to ensure they have brand authenticity and consumer insight behind their decisions.
Learn from the leaders: Wagamama’s Approach
Wagamama sets a noteworthy example, pledging to make 50% of its menu vegan. Their collaboration with The Bread and Butter Thing for a Veganuary dish, resulting in a donation of one million meals to low-income families, showcases the impact of strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This not only aligns with CSR values but also generates positive brand sentiment, paying testament to the potential impact of strategic marketing initiatives.
How to stand out from the noise
Target the ‘Flexitarian’
Acknowledging that almost 40% of EU consumers identify as flexitarian, vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan it’s crucial to capture the attention of meat eaters exploring plant-based options. To do so, search engine optimisation is one key element, this means utilising some of the core phrases and keywords essential to veganism and making them a key part of your company’s marketing ethos.
Accessibility for all
Recent studies found that 68% of Brits have or would consider transitioning to a plant-based diet, however 20% of the respondents felt eating out or cooking at home would be difficult. Consider factors like cost, at home cooking experiences, and year-round promotion of vegan meals. The promotion of vegan meals year-round is key, don’t limit inclusivity to January, make it a consistent effort. Remember, consistent content is king.
Research by The Vegan Society emphasises the significance of affordability, over a quarter of students find a vegan diet too expensive, and a third of shoppers are cutting down on meat and dairy due to the cost-of-living crisis. However, research found that vegan diets are 40% cheaper than meat-based diets. The use of media outlets is essential in providing people with the correct information and to show people why adapting to a vegan diet is crucial for sustainability.
The authenticity and transparency from brands go a long way in establishing credibility and fostering brand loyalty, especially in today’s media-savvy world. It is undeniable that brands moving to vegan inclusion is a significant step towards more sustainable outcomes. However, don’t be caught jumping onto the vegan bandwagon, this can be considered as greenwashing. Therefore, third-party certification is essential to gain credibility and loyalty with consumers.
Following the lead of impactful initiatives like Wagamama’s can set the tone for a successful plant-powered year ahead, businesses must navigate the crowded market by appealing to flexitarians, ensuring accessibility for all, and addressing affordability concerns and build their credibility.
Whether people choose to opt into a Vegan lifestyle for just January or are exploring new dietary options it’s vital that the hospitality industry recognises these shifts and changes and respond quickly and authentically. While the calendar and initiatives such as Veganuary can help inspire content and campaigns, it’s what is at the core of a business that counts.