Even if you don’t share anything about your charitable efforts, people pay attention.
Serial entrepreneur Jason Antony owns several staple vegan business in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver: Vegan Supply in Vancouver and Surrey, and MeeT on Main Street, Yaletown, and Gastown. Naturally I was grateful to interview him for my book and learn some of the marketing secrets behind his vegan ventures.
Outdoor and Indoor Advertising
I wrote in Chapter 2 of my book: “Vegan Supply is my hometown’s vegan grocery store, with two retail locations and an ecommerce site. You’d think that it relies mostly on digital marketing, but it surprised me to learn how many traditional tactics the company incorporates into its strategy in terms of signage. Owner Jason Antony said, ‘We have a refrigerated truck, and it’s all decaled-out. There’s also in-store stuff that we have. We have some basic sandwich boards. At the top of every fridge and freezer, there’s a little space to have logos and information that directs people to different parts of the store.'”
Vegan Supply also use sales promotions along with other tactics:
“Release newsletters are something that we do on the retail and wholesale sides,” said Vegan Supply owner Jason Antony. “We have specific promotions that are connected to a few different holidays per year. On World Vegan Day, we usually have a discount that we run; that’s our biggest discount of the year. And then Black Friday, Cyber Monday. We also do stuff in the summer around our birthdays.”
Here’s the post I personally look forward to every year (sorry you missed the sale!):
Giving Back to the Community
Jason almost didn’t want to mention their charitable efforts, even though both of his vegan businesses have done a lot for the local Vancouver community over the years. He said:
There’s this whole piece that we don’t promote in any of our locations: we do a lot of stuff in the community. We’re donating to different events, and any time anybody asks us for donations, we support them, whether it be contests or giveaways. We have a long list of companies we’ve donated to. At Vegan Supply, on a weekly basis, we provide vegan meals to a Downtown Eastside shelter. We do a lot of community work—we just don’t talk about it that much.
Jason also some great things to say about Pinterest. “For Facebook and Instagram, when you make a post, it dies there, for the most part. There’s a little bit of longevity, but it doesn’t plant any seeds for the future, whereas Pinterest and YouTube grow over time. So, you can have a YouTube video, which continues to build a bigger audience. We’ve ended up doing fairly well with Pinterest because we’ve been posting for years. Surprisingly, we have a decent following on Pinterest considering the nature of the content.”
Vegan Supply also relied on Facebook groups when it started—it speaks to how businesses can integrate into the community, as long as you aren’t posting promotions too often. “When we started, we used Vancouver Vegans quite heavily,” Jason said. “I’d encourage start-ups to consider who, how, and where they can integrate into the vegan community and plug in. Facebook groups are funny because regionally they’re different, but I think that Facebook, Discord and even Craigslist have groups that, depending on your community, could make a difference.”
Learn more about the events Jason’s businesses take part in, and what he did during the pandemic to build his brand.
Vegan Marketing Success Stories is in all formats.
Header photo: Vegan Okonomiyaki; eatmeet.ca
If you’re in the Vancouver area, please join me this Saturday, November 5 anytime from 12 to 4pm at Friend and Faux, 250 E Pender Street (beneath Vegan Supply) in Chinatown and get your paperback copy signed by yours truly!
Accessibility: There is no wheelchair access to Friend and Faux but Vegan Supply upstairs can happily arrange a purchase and signing.