All hail JanuaryWritten by Charlotte Cullen 28 January 2022
To some, January is a dark and dull month, with little about it to look forward to. For myself and so many others that enjoy plant-based lifestyles; it can’t come around any sooner.
The Veganuary campaign has seen its sign-up totals heighten year on year, with the organisation reporting that 2021’s figures doubled those of 2019. It is clear the movement is catching on fast, and the great news is – brands are listening and responding. For example, this month has seen iconic dairy brands such as Babybel, Boursin and Philadelphia provide an uncompromised swap for their much-loved products. And the comforting high-street favourites of Wagamama and Café Nero expanding their vegan offering to empower Brits to give new plant recipes a go, democratising a once limited category.
It’s a joy to see brands pushing their NPD to the limits to ensure that there’s no sacrifice required in choosing their plant-based alternatives, and allowing simple daily swaps to be made, without the nation’s tastebuds even realising. Be it condiments, cream or cakes, consumers can start small with brands they trust, before branching out to the challenger brands that are entering the fray in abundance.
Despite the developments, certain categories need to work harder than others to convince consumers of the lack of compromise. In a study commissioned by snack brand Nature’s Heart, dairy products appear to be the toughest challenge to crack, with 40 per cent saying they’d battle to give up cheese, 32 per cent cow’s milk and 30 per cent eggs.
So as the ‘ve’ sign and the colour green continues to become more commonplace, will the plant-based sections of supermarkets begin to blend into the mainstream? And with new titles regularly being coined, such as ‘flexitarian’, ‘virtually vegan’ and ‘reducetarian’, will people want to continue to label themselves?
With so many reasons to try plant-based, there are multiple communication opportunities for brands to tap into and flex. As sustainability and climate change continue to dominate the news, there has been plenty of discussion around the benefits of making the switch. However, health, is currently claimed to be the highest factor for people taking on the Veganuary challenge, with animal welfare also playing a strong part for women in particular; 40% of whom cited it as their primary reason.
Nature’s Heart’s study shows that almost a third of participants want to try more plant-based alternatives in 2022 and 29 per cent would like to make some elements of their diet vegan. So as consumers continue to decrease their purchase of animal products beyond the month of January, the opportunities for businesses to tap into the trends are endless.
I hope to see even more from brands outside of the food and drinks category in the spotlight next year, with more leather made of pineapples, fabric softeners without animal fats, and eyeshadows without fish scales – I’m counting down the days to January 2023 already!