Lynsey – Client Services Director

I’m not singing the praises of Greggs just because I’m a Geordie, but because of how it’s evolved into a brand that’s worth shouting about.

I have fond memories of childhood Fridays, eating a cheese and onion pasty along with a bit of stottie, around at my Grandma’s. It was our tradition, week in week out – along with thousands of other Geordies; Greggs was and remains a household name. Synonymous with sausage rolls, but now in 2019, it’s more than that, way more than that.

Greggs has recently been voted the Marketing Week Masters Brand of the Year – here’s why I think they deserve this high-profile accolade.

It was always the ‘northern’ brand that struggled to break into the south – however, now with 1,854 stores throughout the UK, Greggs is a recognised brand, serving millions of customers a week.

The brand was repositioned as ‘Always fresh, always tasty’ –a clear focus on its products, with an emphasis on food freshly prepared instore, value for money, and flavour! Greggs has a clear vision to become the customers’ favourite for ‘food-on-the-go’ and the brand is certainly living up to it.

In the last few years, two campaigns stick out for me as defining moments in Greggs’ success.

Undercover Greggs

At the Essex Foodie Festival 2018, Greggs opened a stall to launch its new summer range of healthy snacks. The stall was named ‘Gregory & Gregory’ and had a premium look and feel that didn’t seem out of place at the up-market festival.

Those who visited were impressed with the premium offering, which included a feta and beetroot salad, oriental chicken, and a lemon and herb chicken with a roasted vegetable and grain salad. Upon finding out the truth behind their tasty lunches, customers couldn’t believe that the delicious, on-trend, health-conscious range was from the Geordie bakery chain, famous for its Steak Bakes (not that Steak Bakes aren’t delicious).

The reaction to the new menu exceeded expectations, and it was rolled out across the UK. It immediately repositioned Greggs as a healthy choice for lunch-seekers on a quest for food-on-the-go.

For me, this was a turning point for Greggs. Firstly, the brand had the guts to put itself out there, which gave it creditability, introduced an alternative lunchtime choice to a range of new customers, and gave the competition something to be worried about.

The Vegan

Greggs kicked 2019 off with a bang with the launch of its vegan sausage roll. While it divided the nation (and made Piers Morgan quite upset), it certainly worked wonders for Greggs profits in quarter one.

Innovator, disruptor – a couple of words that come to mind following the successful launch of this product. When it came into stores in January, the Greggs brand exploded. Even the team at Greggs were surprised at how well-received it was – the brand struggled to keep up with demand as sossy rolls flew off the shelves! The launch was perfectly timed, as it capitalised on “Veganuary” and the growing demand for plant-based alternatives.

The launch was so successful, the product is now on the menu all year round and is Greggs’ fifth most popular product – sausage rolls being number one… obviously!

I believe there is more to come from this range. The demand for plant-based food is continuously growing and the number of vegans in the UK is higher than ever. We’ve seen Pret launch ‘Veggie Pret’, so why can’t Greggs do something similar?

So, what exactly is it that Greggs is doing so well? What does the brand have up its sleeve that has helped it achieve two incredibly successful launches?

Greggs knows its audience

Greggs understands who its customers are – old and new. Not only that, it listens to those customers instore, online, and through research – and this has helped support the campaigns the brand has had such success with.

Even when Greggs extended its food-on-the-go offering, it never failed to remain loyal to its core customer based – the die-hard sausage roll and sausage, bean and cheese melt fans.

Losing touch with the people that made the name popular has been the failure for some brands. I’ve seen household names trying to be something they’re not, and failing to deliver on that promise.

Greggs knows its audience, it understands what motivates these customers’ purchasing decisions, and this knowledge underpins everything that Greggs does – strategically and commercially.

Greggs understands the market

It’s a market that never stops changing. And Greggs has changed with the demands of the UK consumers wanting to fill their stomachs with healthier food-on-the-go options.

This has had a huge influence on the brand moving forward. The company’s marketing activity played a crucial role, both in building awareness around the new healthy range ‘Balanced Choice’, and bringing customers that may not usually consider Greggs through those automatic sliding doors.

Greggs is consistent

In taste, value, and service – across every store, up and down the UK.

Greggs continually engage its target audiences through its earned and owned channels. From clever PR, digital, engaging social media content, and even through its in-store communications. This gives customers a dependable experience, which leads to loyalty, trust and, ultimately, more sausage roll sales.

Brands – take note. Be yourself. Don’t try to be lots of things to lots of people. Don’t dilute and compromise. But don’t stand still either.

It’s been quite a journey for Greggs, and not only has the brand transformed, but it’s also maintained 15% growth year on year, despite the tough trading environment. In my eyes, Greggs is still the star baker – and my not so guilty pleasure!

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