Veganuary: Turning a one-month event into a long-term growth strategy

Written by
Fifty Team

Insights by
Fifty Team

01 Feb, 2023


Veganism is no longer a niche diet for a small sector of society. Over the last decade, the narrative of veganism has changed, with a focus shifting from animal welfare to connecting plant-based diets with health. Burger King’s target of having a 50% meat-free menu by 2030 is one indicator of how far our culture has come. What’s more, plant-based diets are not solely the purview of vegans, with month-long events like Veganuary enticing people to try vegan foods, if only on occasion.

People who identify as vegans have a well-defined digital footprint and are relatively easy to target. But what about those who are vegan-curious? People who are flexitarian? Or those looking to cut back on meat thanks to the rising cost of groceries? One in four (28%) adults in the UK is now cutting down on meat to help get through the cost of living crisis. These audiences all present opportunities for plant-based brands.

The many motivations behind eating vegan foods mean there are several different audiences, with different preferences, digital behaviours and interests, that all require a nuanced understanding and a tailored approach in order to engage with them.

The Opportunity

Veganuary is not only a critical time for a brand in terms of product launches and marketing, it also offers a rich pool of insights, which can help plant-based brands create long-term growth strategies.

By looking at the audiences that engage with Veganuary, Fifty has identified six tribes that are the key Growth Audiences for plant-based brands. They are highly engaged with veganism, but understanding their secondary and tertiary interests will help vegan brands create marketing and creative strategies that speak specifically to them, throughout the year.

Growth Audiences for Plant-based Brands

Fifty ran an audience analysis into Veganuary 2023, looking at individuals sharing content, using the hashtag and following the account. From this analysis, we found six key tribes, which make up 88% of the total audience. These are the audiences that we believe are highly engaged with plant-based diets, and will have interest beyond the month of January.

  • Eco-conscious City Dwellers

  • Health-conscious Consumers

  • Trendy Gen Zers

  • Sophisticated Foodies

  • Millennial Professionals

  • Culture Vultures

F0: Key Tribes
F0: Key Tribes

Read on to get a snapshot of each tribe and if you want to learn how you can reach them more effectively, get in touch with our team.

Eco-conscious City Dwellers

The largest tribe is the Eco-conscious City Dwellers. The interesting nuance in this tribe is that they are not activism focused. Despite what stereotypes might have you believe, those that engage with veganism are not necessarily Greta Thunberg level eco-warriors. While they are definitely interested in environmentalism, it is not their sole driving interest and they are engaged across a host of progressive causes.

F1: Eco-Conscious City Dwellers
F1: Eco-Conscious City Dwellers

Health-conscious Consumers

Health has become a primary motivator for going plant-based. This can be seen in two tribes that coalesce around health consciousness. Our first Health-conscious tribe, which makes up 15% of the audience, is more focused on wellness and health as a lifestyle. This means that beyond caring about what they eat, they take care of their mind, body and soul through activities like meditation and yoga. The second Health-conscious tribe in the study is much smaller – making up 3% – with a focus more clearly on exercise and being active. They have a passion for individual sports like running and cycling and nutrition is geared towards those other pursuits.

F2: Health-Conscious Consumers
F2: Health-Conscious Consumers

Trendy Gen Zers

Veganuary had particular engagement with one cohort of Gen Z, the Trendy Gen Zers. What we see with this audience is that it is not necessarily mainstream teenagers and 20-somethings engaging with plant-based foods, but rather those that are ahead of the curve and into trendsetting culture. Their passion for music and platforms like Boiler Room indicate this desire to keep their finger on the pulse. For them, plant-based foods might be a trend to try and if a brand entices them correctly, something they decide to stick with.

F3: Trendy Gen Zers
F3: Trendy Gen Zers

Sophisticated Foodies

The Sophisticated Foodies tribe comes to Veganuary with a deep love of food and the food world in general. This tribe looks to try the latest food and restaurants, and is adventurous and sophisticated in their tastes. For them, the motivation to engage with plant-based foods might not so much be for their health or the planet but because it offers a gastronomic discovery. The predominance of well-known chefs as their top influencers showcases this culinary interest, and offers plant-based brands a chance to show off their flavour and product innovation.

F4: Sophisticated Foodies
F4: Sophisticated Foodies

Millennial Professionals

One of the more unexpected audiences to emerge is the Millennial Professionals. This tribe coalesces around their interest in business, technology and digital culture in general. They are digital-first, urban and relatively affluent and are perhaps an untapped opportunity for vegan brands, who may usually overlook this segment in their targeting.

F5: Millenial Professionals
F5: Millenial Professionals

Culture Vultures

The final growth tribe is the Culture Vultures. Another affluent tribe, this audience converges on their interest in a high-brow arts scene. Predominantly a female tribe, they spend their time reading and museum-going. Like the Millennial Professionals, this is perhaps a more unexpected tribe that offers vegan brands new digital marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

F6: Culture Vultures
F6: Culture Vultures

The Evolution of the Veganuary Audience

The evolution of the Veganuary audience reflects the wider shift in how veganism is perceived. There has been a sizable growth in the Eco-conscious City Dwellers audience, reflecting the broadening out of the conversation around veganism from animal welfare and environmentalism. This growth in audience showcases Veganuary’s appeal to more mainstream eco-conscious consumers.

Similarly, health-conscious audiences have seen a 10% rise in share over the last four years, showcasing the overall shift from vegan diets as an animal welfare issue to the rise eating plant-based for health reasons.

As veganism has become more mainstream within the food world – with more dedicated plant-based restaurants opening, for instance – the conversation around foodies has dropped off, indicating an overall acceptance.

F7: Tribe Change Over Time
F7: Tribe Change Over Time

Market Difference: UK vs US

Veganuary was started by a UK non-profit, so it is unsurprising that it has a larger audience based there. However, we also ran a study into Veganuary engagement in the US to understand the underlying motivations of a market where 79 million households are now buying plant-based products.

While many of the same tribes emerged – suggesting similar motivations in terms of their interest in veganism – the sizes of these tribes differ greatly.

Eco-conscious City-dwellers are similar sizes in both countries, which makes sense since they are perhaps the most mainstream audience for veganism. However, the US interest in Veganuary skews younger and trend-driven, with Gen Zers and Culture Vultures as much more sizable audiences. It could be that Veganuary attracts people who have a more cultured, global awareness, especially considering Gen Z uses social media as a resource to learn about the world around them and could easily access content on Veganuary.

Another difference of note is the a wider variety of niche tribes engaging with Veganuary in the US, such as Arts & Crafts Enthusiasts, Keen Comic Fans and Medical Marijuana Advocates – which all indicate that plant-based eating has grown to have widespread appeal across many interests.

F8: Comparing UK to US
F8: Comparing UK to US

Conclusion: So what?

Over 600,000 people participated in Veganuary this year, up from 250,000 in 2019. For plant-based brands looking to capitalise on this exponential growth, it is important to understand whose interest is piqued by Veganuary – these are your growth audiences and should be central to your marketing strategy all year round.

The six growth audiences Fifty has identified have different interests, influencers and digital behaviours which means that brands cannot blanket target them. You will need to create individualised strategies and gain an understanding of –

  • What channels are relevant to each tribe?

  • Which influencers should be working with?

  • What content will appeal to them?

  • Who should you be partnering with?

Using audience insights, you can tailor all of these attributes for each tribe, which will result in more dynamic, personalised campaigns and ultimately better results. Audience insights are just the beginning of taking your brand to the next level. It is how you activate these insights that will deliver real growth.

Fifty has a nuanced understanding, not only of who these audiences are, but how best to reach them. To find out more, download our full audience report, which provides further detail on these audiences, and more importantly articulates media strategies & tactics  to best engage them. Or to best activate these insights across the web with Fifty’s AdOps Team, get in touch.

To learn more about how Fifty can help you better understand and reach your current and future customer, get in touch.

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