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We take a look into which brands made a success of their Veganuary promotions

Posted on Fri 15th Feb, 2019 in: Blogs by Rebecca Farnsworth

Veganism is taking the UK by storm – not only is the vegan market now worth more than £572 million, but three million people said they would attempt to go vegan for January this year, according to a poll by VoucherCodes.

Whether it’s to help the environment, health reasons or to simply give it a go, Veganism has become a major trend.

Research shows a substantial rise among young people, with over 50% of 16 – 29 year olds having tried a vegan diet in the last year. We also know from our previous blog on Gen Z, that younger audiences want to buy from authentic brands that align with their values – giving brands even more reason to venture into vegan products.

So it isn’t surprising that it has been a record-breaking year for the charity Veganuary, which inspires people to try going vegan for a month, with more than 250,000 people signing up to the challenge - a far cry from the mere 3,300 who took part in 2014.

Many people may be unaware a charity is behind this month, but big brands are now getting involved in the action, capitalising on its popularity, but are they actually listening to audiences, or simply jumping on the bandwagon?

At Aberfield, we understand how important it is to put the audience first so we thought it would be interesting to have a look into some brands that made a success out of their Veganuary promotions this year.

1)      Greggs

One brand has dominated Veganuary this year and got everyone talking… about vegan sausage rolls.

Audience demand drove the launch of Greggs’ new product following a PETA petition urging the food outlet to accommodate vegans, which more than 20,000 people signed. But what Greggs then had to ensure was that the product became as successful as possible.

It was the clear star of the month, with its whole campaign cleverly mimicking an Apple iPhone launch, including a video revealing the roll’s ‘pastry layers’ quantity, ‘golden finish’ and ‘10 mega-bites’. Combine this with an innovative journalist desk drop of the product in an iPhone box and reactive social, and the launch was a recipe for success.


But what really helped the campaign explode on social was this controversial tweet from Piers Morgan:

To which, Greggs swiftly replied:


With Greggs' tweet generating 2k replies, 20k retweets and a huge 147k likes – it is safe to say they won this battle and got everyone talking!

Social media played a significant role in the success of the launch, specifically Twitter as a conversationally driven platform, which really engaged audiences. Thousands of tweets have been shared by customers, mocking Piers’ outburst and praising how tasty the pastry actually is.

And all of this publicity actually turned into a whole lot of sales. The £1 vegan sausage rolls became the fastest selling new line from Greggs in six years, with hundreds of thousands sold in the first week of January, with many trying the new product even if they weren’t taking part in Veganuary. The vegan sausage roll is now a permanent fixture on its menu.


2)      Pizza Hut

Another popular food company to jump on the Veganuary bandwagon was Pizza Hut. 

The company launched its jackfruit pizza in celebration of Veganuary, promising to make it a permanent fixture if it sold 10,000 during the month.

Audience demand for the product was strong and it sold over 9,000 in the first two weeks, and after reaching a grand total of 17,700, Pizza Hut announced it will become a fixed option in March.  

Pizza Hut made its social media work even harder by hooking into the popularity of the Piers Morgan – Greggs Twitter spat, referencing the presenter and tagging Greggs into this tweet:

Conversation around Piers Morgan and Veganism has gathered almost a cult following on social and Pizza Hut was smart enough to notice this and capitalise on it to market its own product.



3)      Hilton Hotel

Food brands weren’t the only companies taking advantage of the vegan appetite this month – Hilton Hotel launched the world’s first completely vegan hotel suite at its Hilton Bankside Hotel in London.

But what even is a vegan hotel suite? The entire room was a vegan paradise - replacing materials such as feathers and leather with new vegan alternatives and stocking it with cruelty-free toiletries and vegan snacks.  

The room has achieved widespread coverage and has been reviewed by a lot of the big papers, including the Mail, the Mirror and the Independent.

At the price of £549 a night, we think we’ll stick to the quid sausage rolls!

But although the vegan suite had high levels of coverage online, it didn’t quite have the same effect as Greggs across social. Aside from publications tweeting their news, there was a minimal reaction on social, including on the Hilton Bankside Hotel’s own Twitter channel.

The coverage around the room does align the brand with vegan values, but whether this resonated with the public is questionable.   


4)      M&S

Our final slot goes to M&S, who not only launched a major vegan food range with 60 products in January, but have gone a step further… with shoes.

According to M&S, it decided to introduce the new products after vegan searches on its website doubled in the last year. It capitalised on the call for vegan shoes by launching its new range across social with a flipbook style video:



Similarly to the Hilton, reaction to the vegan shoes didn’t quite have the same viral effect as the food products (thanks to Piers!), but it did get people talking on social and aligned the brand with vegan values:

From initial reactions, M&S’s new ranges seem to be going down well, which will only boost their appeal among Gen Z.


There is no doubt that Veganuary has been the biggest yet – in terms of participation, but also in terms of brands really jumping at the chance to target a new audience and spark conversation through PR and social.

Companies that were most successful were those who listened to customer demand and catered their marketing towards this audience, using humour and popular figures to create the biggest impact.

The vegan trend looks set to continue and brands that want to join in on the fun need to follow in the footsteps of those that put their audience first. Whether that is from reacting to audience demand like Greggs, or looking at the ethical side of the fashion industry like M&S.

The big test will be if brands keep it up throughout the year. Vegan steak bake anyone?

What was your top pick from Veganuary? Tweet us your thoughts @AberfieldPR and if you want to find out more about what we do, get in touch.



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