Christmas 2017: 5 mistakes when marketing to a cruelty-free audience

It feels like supermarkets have reached a turning point this Christmas. With seasonal ranges only on shelf for a matter of weeks, it’s the perfect time to trial new products and inform your NPD for the rest of the year. And this is exactly what we’ve seen, with an explosion of vegan and free from products on shelf. My personal favourite so far has to be the Lazy Day Vegan Tiffin Box (tastes as good as it looks). But as we sit down to feast, it’s a good time to reflect on how NOT to market to cruelty-free, ethical and vegan shoppers.

1. Don’t make fun of your audience
Rude Health produces oat and rice-based milks, amongst other products, with vegans appearing to represent a high percentage of their customer base. Unfortunately, after a post promoting the benefits of full-fat milk, which led to much confusion on social media, a rant from the brand director of Rude Health then surfaced, painting veganism as a fad and complaining of the righteous attitude of vegans (i.e. their audience). Sorry Rude Health, but you lost some customers that day.

2. Don’t rely on hummus and falafel
I mean, hummus is delicious, as is falafel, but you can have too much of an ok-thing. Pubs, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, coffee shops or any business that serves food – I plea, to look beyond the chickpea. Even though they’re ace. Shout out to the recent Marks & Spencer Rainbow Veg sandwich, made with avocado, roasted veg and pumpkin seeds. And also Caffe Nero and their accidentally vegan mice pies.

3. Know your own supply chain
Smaller businesses often take pride in their supply chain – sourcing local, quality materials and ingredients from suppliers they know and trust. As businesses grow, the importance of this becomes overlooked. Hence earlier this year, when we saw faux fur bobble hats and coats that were actually made of real fur, as brands such as Asos and Missguided lost control of their own production. This oversight not only dented consumer trust, but unintentionally fuelled the animal fur trade, which according to the RSPCA, 95% of Brits are against.

4. Don’t be misleading: pick a side and stick to it.
Above all – be transparent and clear. Your audience knows their shit. When ethical consumers see an emotional, compassionate statement about how terrible animal testing is, followed by the sentence “we only test on animals when required by law”, what we read is, “We don’t mind testing on animals if it involves the kerching of the Chinese market”. Looking at you, Benefit.

5. Do be proud of what you stand for
Having an identity, and a cause, sets you aside from your competitors. If there’s a cause you believe in, don’t be scared to talk about it – never be vanilla. You may find that it’s a cause your audience were unaware of, and appreciate learning more about your materials and ingredients. For example, many young women may be unaware that their make-up brushes contain squirrel, pony, mink or goat hair. Educating them that your products are cruelty-free can both educate your audience and drive more sales. Eco tools, Too Faced and Urban Decay all speak openly and proudly about the synthetic hair in their brushes. Bobbi Brown makes it almost impossible to discover what their brush hair is made from.

If you have anything to add to this list – let us know!

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