What are the marketing opportunities for vegan brands in 2022?

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Recent data conducted by One Poll on behalf of Veganuary found that 8% of Brits now follow a plant-based diet. This number is up from 2% in 2019, showing a 300% increase. 

The research also revealed that one third of us would now consider trying a vegan diet, calling it an ‘admirable thing to do’. 

What’s influencing this growth? 

It’s down to two things – information and choice. As a nation that has meat heavily ingrained in our history and traditions (think Sunday roasts, beef and ale pies, toad in the hole and the like) it can be difficult to change behaviour. 

However, media coverage on veganism has really shifted in sentiment over the past few years. The topic was once seen as something just for hippies, those concerned about animal welfare or with special dietary requirements. 

But times are changing. We’re receiving much more information on how animal farming for food affects our health and the sustainability of the planet. So, media coverage has become much more positive towards a vegan diet and we’re seeing a wider variety of topics covered, from wellbeing and recipes through to beauty and sustainability. 

Choice has also been a big driver. Gone are the days of stepping into a supermarket and seeing Tofu and Quorn as the only plant-based alternatives to meat. We now have whole aisles dedicated to veganism; vegan sausages, steak, bacon, burgers and much more.  

Brands have played an excellent part in driving consideration too. It’s probably fair to say that bakery chain, Greggs, was the first real head turner in mainstream plant-based products with its vegan sausage roll, launched in January 2019. 

Since then, we’ve been given a vegan Whopper, nuggets, stuffed crust pizzas, tuna sandwiches and so much more. Considering the short turnaround time many brands have had to develop these products, we can only be excited about what’s to come. 

How can we encourage more Brits to trial vegan food? 

Marketing of course! If we’ve seen a 300% increase in three years, imagine what we’re going to see in another three.  

We humans love habits and marketing offers a number of temptations to help us break them. Doing the weekly shop for example – how often do you buy the same food each week and cook the same recipes? Picking up vegan sausages instead of pork ones is an easy swap to make. We just need to hear more about the information and choices available. 

What channels should you use? 

  • Traditional channels such as print and digital news will always be a key driver in spreading news, so consumer PR is vital
  • Awards are an excellent way to drive brand awareness and purchase consideration. Our client, Norseland, specialises in cheese manufacturing and has produced vegan options for the core products we look after – Mexicana and Applewood in recent years. 

In December 2021, Applewood was voted the best vegan cheese in the Vegan Food UK Awards. This gives us a whole 12 months to use that news in various comms channels and open conversations with new people. 

With restrictions still in place on masks and sampling, it looks like Spring and Summer will be the best time to conduct events and taste tests. 

  • Social media is another great marketing option – one that may now hold more influence than traditional media when talking to certain groups of people. Speed and shareability is the key success here for spreading news, as well as eye catching, social-first content. 
  • Influencer marketing remains an effective route for plant-based comms, especially when partnering with vegan influencers. There’s been an influx of micro and macro influencers emerging in the last two years, many of whom are sharing news of vegan launches without even partnering with brands. 

We’re also seeing huge viral recipe creations coming from platforms like TikTok. Not always vegan, but keep in mind the successes of vodka pasta, Boursin soup and folded tortilla wraps. 

How competitive is the vegan marketing landscape? 

Since the start of 2019, we’ve seen a real burst of marketing activity from vegan brands. This has been further amplified through the Covid-19 pandemic as people took the time to focus more on their health. 

And this has led to a very competitive landscape for plant-based marketing as well as new brands and products being born. This can make cutting through the noise very difficult – innovation and thinking differently are key to a brand’s long-term success. 

Want to hear more about how we can help you with vegan marketing? Get in touch at [email protected] or call 020 3077 2000. 

  • Jacqueline Buckland,
    Account Director