Skip to Content

Veganuary: don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Hermione Hitchin Senior Executive 16/01/2023

In recent years, Veganuary has been quick to gain popularity; according to the non-profit organisation behind the campaign, annual signups have skyrocketed since the event’s inception in 2014.

In less than a decade, a mere 3,300 signups shot to a staggering 700,000 in 2023.

Much of the campaign’s success is due, at least in part, to the support and participation of the food and beverage industry. Each year, many restaurants participate in the campaign – some brands may choose to offer a limited-time promotion, while others have made more long-term changes.

Vegan menu: a worthwhile investment?

There have been a number of instances where 100% plant-based business ventures have forced to close after discerning a demand that was lower than anticipated.

In 2018, US vegan fast-food chain ‘By Chloe’ began trading in the UK – and eventually operated four sites across London. But by 2020, the chain filed for bankruptcy (citing the pandemic) and were later forced to halt trading in the UK after being acquired by QOOT.

British favourite Pret A Manger faced a similar issue this year. Its spin-off chain Veggie Pret, which it planned to expand after acquiring rival firm EAT in 2019, was eventually dropped in favour of expanding the plant-based offer in original Pret A Manger stores.

More recently, Honest Burgers demonstrated its sustainable and inclusive values by rebranding an existing site into the all-vegan diner: ‘V Honest’. Despite some early Buzz, V Honest reverted to its original offering, perhaps demonstrating that whilst a growing trend, Veganism has not quite broken to a critical mass.

But that’s not to say consumers aren’t hungry for vegan options… the demand for Veganism is clear from Veganuary’s campaign reports. Furthermore, BrandVue data suggests the British public have been gradually moving away from eating meat as much as they once did, with Q4’21 being the strongest period for the trend.

So, why did these ventures hit a wall?

Honest Burgers’ co-founder Tom Barton has suggested that the demand for Vegan and plant-based diets might in fact be more exaggerated than what is the reality, stating: “people’s food beliefs are one of those things that [they] are very vocal and passionate about on social media and can potentially paint a bigger picture [of veganism] than is actually realistic.”

Interestingly, a 6-month follow up survey by Veganuary shows that only 28% of participants remained on a vegan diet after the 2022 campaign – leaving 72% returning to non-vegan diets. For the non-profit, 28% is an encouraging figure, but for businesses that made significant changes to their operations, it is less promising.

Striking a balance

Those that opt for a varied menu rather than an exclusively vegan offering, are more likely to succeed as they can appeal to a wider range of customers with various dietary requirements. For example, group bookings may be more inclined to choose a restaurant with a diverse menu, to accommodate individual needs and preferences.

To celebrate Veganuary, brands that offer promotions, such as Las Iguanas’ two-for-one promotion on vegan and vegetarian dishes, or BrewDog Bars’ ‘Meat-free Mondays’ special, may also find success during January without making drastic changes to their operations. In fact, Big Table Group reported Las Iguanas saw “a huge 400% increase in uptake of [its] promotion” in 2022.

Don’t miss out on meaty profits

The vegan market is a dedicated and passionate community that can provide long-term benefits for brands that are able to effectively meet their needs and values.

From a marketing standpoint, participating in Veganuary can be a lucrative strategy for brands. Offering a wider range of plant-based options can put businesses at an advantage during the month of January, as it can help retain existing customers participating in the campaign, as well as attract a new vegan clientele.

As such, campaigns like Veganuary and Meat-free Mondays present promising opportunities for brands to tap into a growing consumer base with increasing purchasing power. Those who are able to successfully navigate the complexities of the vegan market and offer high-quality plant-based options at an attractive price will be best positioned for capitalising on this growing trend.

However, while the vegan market may seem large and lucrative, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is fundamental that brands adopt a strategic, targeted approach to this space – with thorough research under their belts – in order to avoid meeting the same fate as Veggie Pret and V Honest.

BrandVue monitors the opinions of 1m+ consumers each year across more than 2,500 brands, acting as an invaluable tool to measure changes in KPI metrics against competitors and react in real time to develop strategic responses that mitigate any negative impacts on your brand.

To find out more or book a free demo, get in touch here.

Knowledge centre

Read More