As the world faces up to the prospect of an environmental and ecological crisis, you’ve decided something: plants are where it’s at. In fact you are damn well compelled to launch your own vegan brand – and by jingo that’s exactly what you’re going to do.
Here at Fox Collective we’ve worked on strategy and product launches for dozens of successful brands so here’s our take on what you need to consider on positioning your vegan brand in the best possible light.
1. Be authentic
Veganism has become increasingly popular in recent years. The Vegan society estimated in 2018 there were 600,000 vegans in the UK alone. But that alone isn’t a good enough reason to launch a brand. You have to know why you are doing this, because launching a brand requires elbow grease. Make sure you are contributing to the movement, not the moment.
2. Do your research
Take a good long look at what your competitors are doing. It will help you learn. It will be inspiring. Most importantly it will help you figure out how you can differentiate yourself and find your place in the market, creating a brand that’s memorable and evocative. The last few years have seen veganism break free from being typecast as just a part of the food industry. Instead, across fashion, beauty and interiors markets vegan brands are leading the way in industry-leading animal-free products. Check out PETA’s latest Vegan Homeware Awards for inspiration. You might not want to do what others have already done. But to find your path it helps to see where others are walking.
3. Think bigger than the vegan market
Veganism doesn’t have to be binary. It’s not always a case of either being a vegan or not being a vegan. Lots of people simply want more balance in their life. They are subscribed to the ecological benefits of veganism and will choose the vegan option on occasion to bring a greater sense of equilibrium to their life. There are far more ‘vegan’ customers than you may have realised. Don’t limit yourself.
4. Get your story straight
The best brands have a clear mission. They stand for something. But this is one story you can’t make up. Clarity is everything and you have to be real. People plump for the vegan option because they want to be healthier and more eco-friendly. Explain clearly how your product or service facilitates that. Make it easy for your potential customer to see how they are making a positive choice. And do that in the most transparent way you can. No smoke and mirrors.
5. Be clear on provenance
Provenance is a big, big watchword. People want authenticity and integrity. To present yourself as a credible brand you need to be clear about the provenance of your ingredients and/or process. Be clear and honest about what you offer as well as what you don’t. We live in an age of consumer scepticism – and rightly so. It’s up to you to prove yourself.
6. Scrutinise vegan accreditation
It’s a nice to have rather than a need to have, but vegan accreditation is likely to be a customer winner – proof that you are everything you say you are. But – and it’s a big but – the cost of acquiring vegan accreditation, which involves audit and registration fees, may be prohibitive. It’s okay if you can’t afford to chase accreditation. Just make sure you are ready to validate your vegan credentials in other ways.
Successful marketers realise that, often, marketing is about promoting the lifestyle behind a product, rather than the product itself. Veganism is an ethical cause and you may find that other vegan brands will be happy to promote your product as long as you are not a direct competitor. A simple example of a brand collaboration would be a manufacturer of running trainers giving away an energy gel designed for runners.
Shacking up with another brand is a great way to expose yourself to new audiences. To find collaborators, think about other brands who share your values. Consider the places where your target audience might shop for products that your brand doesn’t sell. Then approach your target brands with ideas about how a partnership could work. Think: guest blog posts, giveaways, social media takeovers and so on.
8. Accept that you are a living, breathing commercial entity
Realise that you’re not exempt from commercial realities just because you’re a vegan brand. You have to be commercially aware. You have to keep your ear to the ground, observe consumer trends and strive to improve the way you do business as well as the service you offer. Stay agile.
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