Vegetarian brands are trying to reach a new audience, including men, without losing core buyers

To promote its new vegetarian pastry range, Dalepak carried out taste tests among some of the toughest meat pie eaters: fans of Leeds Rhinos rugby league club. Dalepak marketing manager Charlotte Telford says 69% of fans polled in the ‘lads and lattices’ stunt preferred the meat-free option: “So it created a great PR story for us.”
But it also reflects how vegetarian brands are trying to reach a new audience - including men - without alienating their core, vegetarian and often female consumer.
“There’s a definite bias towards women within this sector, especially in the high demographic groupings,” says Cauldron sales director Ken Reed. “But with healthy diets receiving more media attention, both men and women are now starting to look at their diet. We don’t limit our range by looking to appeal to one rather than the other.”
Cranks, a brand built on vegetarian restaurants, was reborn after its purchase by The Grocery Company in 2002, and has moved away from its 1960s tree-hugging image. It is set to unveil 16 new snack products for front-of-store chiller
cabinets in the next few weeks, and relaunched its sandwiches and breads last year with cool black and white packaging.
Consumers are all “greened out”, says brand director Ben Johnson. “The whole sixties, cranky vegetarian thing is neither relevant nor motivating today.” The ‘eat good, feel good’ message works particularly well, he says.
“If you produce ‘mung bean and lentil’ products,” he suggests, “you have passed over that line where you won’t achieve the volumes to keep a product on the shelves.”
According to Dalepak’s Telford, “the secret is not positioning the product as vegetarian”.