Why Greggs borrowed fashion’s ‘drop culture’ to launch its vegan steak bake

Greggs used the element of surprise for its first foray into vegan products. The follow-up required a different strategy.

A year after setting the world on fire by launching a vegan sausage roll, bakery chain Greggs approached Veganuary 2020 with the weight of expectation upon its shoulders.

This time around it chose to launch the Vegan Steak Bake. But it faced the challenge of recapturing the public and media mood in a market now crowded by rival vegan products. This included alternatives by big brands including McDonald’s and KFC, with their big marketing budgets.

Greggs would also be without the element of surprise it had enjoyed in 2019.

Taking cues from the ‘drop culture’ of fashion and lifestyle brands, Greggs sought to hype the vegan steak bake as this season’s must-have product.

Working with agency Drummond Central, the brand reimagined the product launch playbook, using the scarcity effect and creating FOMO (fear of missing out) to build anticipation well in advance of the launch.

Teaser videos on social media channels were used to kick-start the hype, letting the public know that something big was about to happen. Social channels and in-store screens ran a digital countdown timer, with a social media blackout used to build suspense.

A flagship store in Newcastle was wrapped in Greggs X Vegan graphics, with window screens promoting an exclusive event – this took place at 9pm on 1 January, the day before ‘the drop’.

People queued around the block to be among the first to try a vegan steak bake, illuminated by light bulb lettering that spelt out VSB before a Greggs X Vegan photowall.

Vegan steak bakes were displayed on revolving plinths encased in glass. The first 200 to arrive received their VSB in a numbered, gift-wrapped luxury trainer-sized box. The same boxes were delivered to key media contacts on the day of the launch, with each box containing a screen playing the launch video, securing massive coverage.

The hype continued with a vegan steak bake locator to help customers find the in-demand product.

Red Havas figures showed the campaign secured 1,110 pieces of high value media coverage, and there were 4 million video views across social media platforms, sparking top 10 Twitter hashtags for 48 hours.

Greggs scooped a 41% share of voice on social media channels during launch day, substantially ahead of rivals. And the vegan steak bake is now a permanent menu item. All this contributed to Greggs taking home the 2020 Marketing Week Masters award for retail and ecommerce.