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Preparing your brand for the subconscious tipping point behind veganism

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We’ve just had a record Veganuary with over 250,000 sign ups in 2019 and Greggs repeatedly selling out of their Vegan sausage rolls.

Many already know about the animal welfare issues and associated environmental impacts, so why the sudden tipping point?

In our work with The Food People, we analysed the subconscious drivers of the latest 2019-2020 trends. This led us to uncover three key cultural drivers of social acceptance, that impact upon our system 1, and make us feel we want to join in.

  • The Blue Planet effect.

This is where public consciousness has been heightened by social media feeds and documentaries of animal cruelty and graphically portrayed environmental impact.

Not just the more specific documentaries such as Cowspiracy, but also David Attenborough; a trusted, loved, national treasure, makes us care about the environment through his gently told, yet graphic impactful storytelling, on prime-time TV, which has previously not tried to preach to its audience.

  • Vegan has gone mainstream.

Vegan food is now presented in a mainstream way by consumer loved brands like McDonalds, M&S and Greggs, helping people to easily find tasty vegan food in their usual outlets. This takes away the previous stigma of association, of veganism only being a minority cause followed by a ‘few extremists’.

  • Celeb endorsement.

Celebrities such as Ellie Goulding, Will.I.AM, Liam Hemsworth, Brad Pitt and powerful admired athletes such as Serena and Venus Williams are taking away the stigma that being vegan is ‘different.’ They are also changing the perception that you won’t get enough of the right nutritional value from following a vegan diet.

Why does this all come together to create such a big behavioural tipping point? 

Well, we get an internal dopamine hit (the body’s happy drug) from the reward system in the brain, not only because we are caring for ourselves, but this is also strengthened by knowing we are doing the right thing for the planet as well.

This reinforces our perceptions that we are nice caring people (self-actualisation), something we know that the millennial generation particularly values and wishes to portray about themselves on social media (sense of belonging).

So, at 1HQ we have been working with brands to make sure that they don’t miss out on the opportunity to prepare for the behavioural tipping point.

We have a few tips to make sure brands deliver and don’t press the scepticism button in their target consumer’s brain:

  • Dramatise and story tell how you are “doing the right thing”, in simple but specific ways. Using a generic CSR policy won’t work or be as effective. 1HQ have created a simple test to help clients do this. 
  • Make it authentic. Ensure you can deliver rather than show a token effort, offer real choices. Our model will show you how to ensure you pass the ‘purpose washing’ filter, so you don’t always appear to be disingenuous. 
  • Make to fit your brand – Greggs doing a sausage roll, not a poor-quality salad, is a great example. it is important to launch something that your clientele will be interested in and fits your current profile of foods. 
  • Get rid of any brand shadows in the rest of your range (i.e lack of transparent ethical sourcing), so that when you start to offer yourself up as the good guys, you won’t put yourself higher up on a pedestal from which to fall.


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