Health gurus and foodies are on the constant prowl for new food trends and diets, but the latest forms stem from longtime diet restrictions people have been following for ages. Veganism, gluten-free diets, lactose intolerance, and non-GMO products are diets that people with food intolerances and allergies or a particular attachment to animals have lived by out of necessity and belief. Recently, these diets are creeping into aisles in your grocery store, your neighborhood’s new obsession, and even your own plate.
The Vegan Society estimates that 542,000 people in Great Britain follow the vegan diet today, which is three and a half times the number of vegan Britons in 2006. Gwyneth Paltrow wrote a gluten-free cookbook that has millions of people around the country trying to cut back on bread. And food allergies among children increased by approximate 50% from 1997 to 2011, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Is this a bad thing that many of these trendy food diets are focused on people’s intolerances rather than the need to lose weight? Not necessarily. What these diets all have in common is that they promote healthier eating while still obtaining the necessary macro- and micronutrients everyone needs.
What is absolutely true is that there is a new market for chefs to host events targeting these niche communities in the UK’s food industry. However, marketing this type of event comes with an added challenge: how to target these niche eaters without alienating meat-eaters and other diners. The fear of hosting a vegan event manifests as neither meat-eaters nor vegans will be attracted to the event – vegans will have a hard time believing their burger-loving best friend will enjoy the event, and everyone else will assume since they are not vegan the event is not meant for them.
The solution: focus on the all-inclusive experience. What a chef wants to advertise is the aspect of the supper club that everyone can participate in and be excited about. For a chef hosting a Harry Potter event that is completely vegan-friendly, advertise for a Harry Potter themed event. Using a vegan event as an example, we at Grub Club have devised eight techniques for how to market your supper club to include every type of eater in London:
As stated above, if your supper club’s theme is Harry Potter featuring a 100 percent vegan menu, advertise Harry Potter first. “A Vegan Dinner with Harry Potter” will appeal only to vegans while “Harry Potter Weekend, Diner Version” emphasizes the theme only, where the vegan aspect of the dinner can be written in the event’s description. “Harry Potter is a Vegan” does an amusing but effective job setting the two themes equal to each other without scaring meat lovers away by the thought of a vegan menu.
If your event does not have a strong theme to match the vegan focus, highlight the unique venue where your event will take place. You can also choose to focus on the style of cooking or ethnic cuisine, if applicable.
2. Offer a Vegan Alternative
You can draw in niche eaters to your event by advertising a vegan alternative to the dishes you plan to serve. Most niche eaters are accustomed to doing a little digging to ensure an event or restaurant offers food that will fit into their diet. By advertising a vegan dish, you are eliminating the work they have to do in finding an event that accommodates their dietary needs. Therefore, they are more apt to consider your event as a preferable option.
Instead of minimizing the vegan aspect of your event by writing it as an alternative dish, create a meat alternative to your vegan menu. By doing this, you can continue to focus on vegan event you wanted all along while still catering a piece of your supper club to the meat eater.
This method will unlikely attract meat eaters skimming through the list of venues, but it will show vegan customers that your event will be enjoyable for their non-vegan friends. Here, you’re still focusing on the vegan community but making your pop-up more attractive to other types of eaters.
4. Advertise as a One-Night Experience
Publicize your pop-up as an incredible food experience for all eaters to be vegan for one day. Here, you’re not requiring your customers to identify as a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or weekend carnivore. Your customers are food lovers of all shapes, sizes, and preferences who for one night have the chance to try a food trend they would not taste at home.
You will still attract a mostly vegan crowd, but adventurous eaters will jump at the opportunity to try something they’ve never tasted before. After all, your supper club is a unique dining experience on its own.
Everyone loves competition, and anyone who says otherwise just hates to lose. Partner with another chef who specializes in meat-based creations or create two menus on your own: one vegan and one not. Then, it is a competition for the consumers to decide which menu is the winner.
Advertising a venue like this will draw in vegans and meat-lovers who want to represent their favorite food, and it will have a fun and exciting appeal to anyone. This is a great way to bring vegan food into the public sphere without drawing a vegan-only crowd.
6. Promote Your Supper Club to the Vegan Community
Target directly to the vegan community. This involves research and effort worth the price of more customers buying tickets to your event. Just as you want to know everything there is to know about your prospective crush, you want to know all there is to know about your target community.
Where do vegan shop for groceries? Advertise there. What magazines to vegans tend to read or subscribe to? Advertise your event there. Do vegans tend to date vegans? Advertise a date night. What products do vegans buy more than non-vegans? Promote your event through those brands, gaining support and partnership with those brands.
7. Promote Healthy Eating rather than Veganism
No Briton will say that they wish to be unhealthy. Since food is a crucial piece to maintaining a wholesome and healthy life, advertise your pop-up as a night of healthy eating that will satisfy the mind as well as the taste buds.
Vegan dishes are known to be healthier than non-vegan alternatives, and vegans tend to live longer, healthier lives than non-vegans. Using rhetorical language in your event’s description and images of food that would make Oscar Meyer himself drool, your event will capture the attention of vegans and health gurus alike.
When hosting a vegan event, not making any profit is the greatest fear. To ensure you make money for the effort you put forth for your supper club, you must carefully consider what price to charge for your event. Either set a low price and advertise as an incredible deal, or set a higher price knowing customers will pay for the specified menu.
Setting a lower price and advertising your event as a bargain will attract more diverse diners and customers looking for an inexpensive event that still provides the unique experience of venue dining. On the other hand if you choose to set a higher price for your event knowing that you need to make the most money possible from each customer, your price still must fall within the budget these limited customers are willing to pay. This will attract vegan customers desperate for a night made just for them, but it may also alienate other customers.
No matter which method you choose to market your event for a niche diet community, the important notes to consider are your customers. Without consumers to buy tickets to your event, you will gain no marks for your hard work and likely never attempt a vegan supper club ever again. There is a place in London for vegan-friendly events, but you can only find it through careful marketing and consideration for all types of eaters. ◊
All images taken from the Nepal Fundraiser