Data Journalist

More than 200 new vegan products have launched this month to capitalise on the thousands of Brits taking the Veganuary pledge, but does it benefit the brands in the long term? 

With a new plant-based “steak” bake, Greggs is leading the charge into Veganuary - and the likes of McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Costa, Burger King and Café Nero have all followed suit.

We all remember the frenzy generated by the Greggs vegan sausage roll, but will these new vegan products in 2020 benefit the brands in the long run or will the hype fizzle out?

Looking back at December and the start of the New Year, Gregg’s significantly boosted its positive Buzz Score (which measures if consumers have heard something positive about the brand in the last two weeks) with a teaser advert ahead of the release of its new vegan steak bake, but has not seen major gains to its score since the release. In fact, its score dipped by 15 points and has only partially recovered.

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McDonald’s also saw a dip in its Buzz Score after it announced its new vegan offering in the form of vegetable-based dippers, which were initially poorly received online. However, since the release the brand’s Buzz Score has seen a recovery, rising over eleven points in two days. In comparison, Burger King has seen little growth in its positive Buzz Score despite the launch of its soya-based Rebel Whopper.

But have these new products got consumers talking? Looking at Word of Mouth scores (which tracks whether consumers have discussed the brand with friends and family in the last two weeks) almost all of the brands we are looking at have seen increases their scores following their new product launches.

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Gregg’s and McDonalds’s both teased their new vegan products in the days running up to Christmas, which gave them a boost before the New Year, but the release of the new foods sees both brands ending neck and neck.

Costa and Burger King also saw jumps in their word of mouth scores in early January following the release of their products, but McDonalds ultimately takes the lead in terms of the most discussed brand.

However, does all this buzz and word of mouth exposure translate to more footfall for brands? Looking at consideration scores for each of our brands, McDonald’s, Gregg’s and KFC have all seen a large uptick in scores following the release of their new products. Gregg’s also saw a jump in its score thanks to its teaser advert release in the week before Christmas. However, this boost to consideration could be beginning to drop as time goes on.

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Despite the release of new vegan sandwiches earning café chain Costa boosts in its word of mouth and Buzz Scores, the brand’s consideration score has dropped by almost ten points in the last few days while rival Café Nero sees it score jump to 15.6. 

At the end of January we will check back in with these brands to see if the initial benefits wrought from new vegan menu options is carried through to the end of the month, or if the meat-free fad only offer short term boosts to brands.

Image: Getty

Learn more about YouGov BrandIndex here

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