A sausage roll success story

In the week that Apple issued a profit warning bakery chain Greggs has gained huge press and social media coverage for sales of a vegan ‘sausage’ roll that has led to customer queues ‘out of the door’ at some stores. The public interest in part reflects a dramatic growth in those going vegan in the UK where more than 20% of adults are seeking to reduce their meat consumption. But another vegan friendly option isn’t exactly big news so Greggs have clearly done a lot right in their launch.


Firstly, they have made the introduction of a humble £1 sausage roll worthy of sharing and discussing. In a suitably self-effacing way they created a distinctive food launch, delivering their new sausage roll to journalists in mock iPhone cases  – together with an iPhone style launch film, which according to PR week has been viewed 4.74 million times and shared nearly 8,000 times. That’s not bad for a video explaining a sausage roll.

The Gregg’s team have also been ready to respond warmly and quickly to social media reactions which were helpfully fuelled by TV presenter Piers Morgan’s “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you politically correct ravaged clowns!” tweet.  The Gregg’s response was liked by 147,000 twitter users.

Alongside some attention grabbing and humorous marketing Greggs have created a behaviour change friendly innovation.  It follows the first rule of behaviour change which is to demand the smallest possible change. Available in all 1,800 stores it looks exactly like the meat filled alternative – removing barriers to buying and creating expectations of a familiar sausage role experience.  The January launch taps into new year diet resolutions and the global Veganuary campaign.

Being easily confused with other sausage rolls has allowed Greggs to benefit from another conversation creating PR tactic – blind product tests consumers can try on friends and family.  Journalists have joined in leading to morning TV coverage. By offering both vegan and meat options and taking a less than serious approach Greggs could only gain from favourable or unfavourable reactions.

This sausage roll success story sets a challenge to other brands seeking to be noticed and talked about. It is a certainly a reminder that the simplest of innovations can be loudly announced with a distinctive and enthusiastic launch approach.

If Greggs can deliver all this with a vegan sausage roll, sense of humour and some spare iPhone cases what can your brand do?

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