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Nina Franck 

Purpose brands should look beyond 'Veganuary' for media spend

Purpose brands should look beyond 'Veganuary' for media spend

Strategy LeadersYou’ve got a whole year of opportunities, not just January.

For some time now, many of us have decided that January should be a "dry" month in which many of us abstain from alcohol to start the New Year fresh (and then usually go back into old habits in February!)

But in recent years Veganuary has taken hold and many people are also choosing to not eat meat and dairy during this month of piety. So many brands are now shifting the focus on their vegan options, or introduce vegan offers during the start of the New Year.

Today we've seen a giant like Heinz do this by launching a branded comedy series on Channel 4.

For small brands, this strategy can offer a chance to get more fence-sitters to try and go vegan with their products and grow their market share in turn.

But, there are two things that I would be concerned about if still were a small brand.

Are Veganuary customers really long-term prospects?

First, the reality is that my budgets are most likely very limited. I need to be very resourceful with it and have a strategy in place when and where to spend it to make it work as effective as possible.

Should I take advantage of the momentum build up by other brands and try to get my brand also exposed  with paid media or would I go down as my smaller budgets will be drowned out by the big brands?

It is a well-trodden path to either go big when everyone goes big. A smarter trodden path, if your resources are finite, is to shout when everyone else is (at least a bit) more quiet.

Take advantage of the cheaper buying conditions in the market and get a chance to be seen and heard throughout the year. Capturing the good-intention buyers in January might be a short term gain, but will they stick and is the extraordinary effort worth it?

Why only shout in the noisiest places?

Secondly, I have to have a compelling story and creative to be noticed in all the Veganuary messaging clutter. And this goes hand in hand with concern Number One.

Bigger brands have bigger budgets and will deliver the bulk of this clutter.

A smashing message that is in line with the brand’s and the customer’s value can help gain new customers that really are in line with your brand’s values and will become sustainable customers and hence grow your market share in the long run.

For example, Patagonia has done it excellently during Black Friday by turning the usual Black Friday messaging on its head. In that way they triggered attention, attracted customers that are not only in the market during Black Friday but are in line with their values and became relevant to them.

Use different media channels for different objectives

Taking both concerns into consideration, there are a few things small brands can do well to use the momentum of Veganuary but not put all their eggs (sorry!) in that basket.

Have a strong SEO in place. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a long-term play and will help you show up to in-market customers whenever they turn up, and during lower periods but also during peak times such as Veganuary when big brands are lifting up the market for you.

If you don’t have SEO in place you rely on Search Engine Marketing (SEM, paid ads on Google) and that can eat up small budget in an instant as big ones who go big in January could eat up all the space with higher budgets.

Use your own organic platforms such as Instagram with strong messaging and be discovered with content that helps new customers make the transition.

The market is noisy around that time of year and customers are more receptive or open for vegan options and brands. It can be a chance for sure.

But, above all, be smart about the seasonality and consider external factors. Have a strong message that addresses the need of fence sitters to help them make a change and have a strong SEO plan in place long-term that will help you get visibility in busy periods without spending all the paid media budgets.

You’ve got a whole year of opportunities, not just January. Work with the momentum that is build up by the market in January and carry it over.

Nina Franck is an independent comms and media planner. Read her other columns for Mediatel Newshere

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