Until very recently, it was almost better to admit to having a purulent skin disease than to admit to being vegan. As if all of a sudden, vegan is the word on everyone’s lips and like any rising trend, businesses have been quick to clamour all over it, slapping the label “vegan” onto any product they can.
The philosophy underlying veganism however is much bigger than any marketing campaign. It’s about compassionate living. So why should a company – maybe your company – go deeper and put veganism right at heart of their brand? As we’ll see, it’s simply smart business for a company to align itself with humane business practises but there can be real economic pay offs too. But first let’s start with a quick overview.
Most of us are becoming au fait with vegan foods: a vegan burger substitutes real meat for a plant-based alternative; vegan skincare means strictly no animal testing or ingredients (collagen, for example, is usually derived from cows or fish); and a fashion brand will avoid leather. Being a vegan brand in these categories is black and white. For other businesses however, especially in the service sector, “going vegan” is less obvious. That’s because these days “veganism” links in with much broader issues like climate change and social justice. In short, a vegan brand is one that operates with deliberate respect and compassion for people, planet and animals.
So, what are the benefits of putting veganism at the heart of a brand? Jessica Kruger launched LUXTRA: a sustainable fashion brand that uses plant-based vegan leathers to make timeless accessories. If any one knows a thing or two, it’s Jessica.
Pivoting toward opportunity
As the pandemic has demonstrated, businesses that have quickly adjusted to the new landscape have survived, where many others have fallen. For an established company to “go vegan”, significant (read: costly and time consuming) changes to its supply chain will likely be required. It takes guts and commitment to embark upon significant change, but it might be the best way to avoid the fate of Kodak or Blockbuster.
Take for example, some of the world’s largest meat producers: Tyson and Smithfield. As reported by the New York Times, they are adding vegan products to their ranges with gusto, saying themselves they’d “be foolish not to pay attention” to the vegan shift.
Change can be scary. But we all know what they say about staying in our comfort zones. Pivoting may well be the best thing a company can do to ensure it remains relevant in a sea of competition. That’s when the magic will happen.
Remaining relevant is about adding value. The rise of veganism has a lot to do with major world issues such as climate change and social equality, and vegan brands are, to use the lingo, woke.
Companies that work to solve major problems, putting them at the heart of their business models increase their chances of success. On the other hand, companies that believe they can amble along with no heavy-hitting USP will have a harder time distinguishing themselves, making their longevity more precarious.
The major players in any market tend to be large corporations, who are, almost by definition, slow moving, late adopters. They leave the doors wide open for more agile, aware vegan brands to seize opportunities and steal market share. Game changing companies are the ones that have their eyes open and are bold enough to do things differently. Moreover, customers are increasingly seeking healthier, more sustainable, more ethical and kinder products and services; they’re the way of the future and all intrinsically chime with veganism. It makes sense to embrace the movement wholeheartedly.
On a final note
We humans take great pride in our inexorable forward progress. We can all reel off barbaric behaviour from the not-so-distant past that is utterly unfathomable today. Many inhumane business practises still sadly persist. Smart businesses don’t bury their heads in the sand, hoping someone else will sort it out. Smart businesses tackle these issues head on, knowing that in doing so it adds value and visibility to their own brand and wins the admiration and respect of customers… not to mention their moolah.