Greggs were right on the money with their vegan sausage roll launch

February 2019

Although the start of any new year tends to see a raft of media attention around eating less, eating better, getting fit and losing weight etc., this year we had the added fizz of veganism becoming trendy. I was going to write ‘mainstream’ but I’m not sure we’re quite at that point yet, with, arguably, the barrier to it becoming so being more about the negative image openly portrayed by self-righteous and emotionally-fuelled fanatics, than it is opposition to a basically sound idea.

As with any positive trend of course, it doesn’t take long for big brands to muscle-in on the action. Indeed, although the big supermarkets have long had vegan ready meals and other processed products on their shelves which can rightly carry a vegan badge, now you can see half an isle or more devoted to the cause. And good for them for doing so.

But the brand which not only muscled-in but also grabbed the media’s attention when it did so, was Greggs with the launch of its vegan sausage roll. Well actually the attention was partly around Piers Morgan trying the new meat-free pastry on breakfast TV and promptly spitting it out. However and slightly perversely from a normal endorsement perspective, I imagine such antics from a man most of us love to hate (and rightly so) actually gave the product an instant ‘I must try that’ appeal.

Even without Piers Morgan’s inadvertent endorsement though, Greggs was always going to get this one right. For one there was no way on this planet that the product wasn’t going to taste good, because this is Greggs and that’s what they do. The brand also has an unusually high and devout following on social media (over 700k followers on Facebook), so using the channel to get the message out there was also a winner – and, ironically, helped by some of their carnivore-only customers who derided the very idea that a sausage role could be anything but meat-based (the more debate and argument the better if you want the Facebook algorithm to work for you).

Ultimately for Greggs though, the launch is about the successful implementation of segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) – have a read of my August and September 18 blogs if you’re not familiar with this marketing model. And in so doing, the brand has expanded its customer base by appealing to a growing market segment, and without compromising either its core offer or wider brand positioning – indeed it’s strengthened both.

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