The Vegan Kind, the UK’s largest plant-based online store, has just gone through a major rebranding as it looks to position itself at the forefront of the fast-growing industry. Adopting a more modern look to appeal to not just a niche vegan market, but also the mainstream eco-conscious and flexitarian shopper, The Vegan Kind is ambitious about its growth plans ahead.
Scott McCulloch, the CEO and co-founder of The Vegan Kind, recently sat down with Green Queen Media to share more about the company’s latest revamp and what’s in store for the platform in the coming months. In this interview, McCulloch also shares his thoughts on the trends set to shape the plant-based industry, the brands to watch out for, and more.
GQ: Let’s start with some of the most popular brands on the site. Why are they so popular, in your view?
SM: One of the most popular brands is LoveRaw, the vegan chocolate wafers. Among vegan dairy alternatives, Naturli butter block is an outstanding vegan replica of dairy butter. Super realistic THIS isn’t bacon is our best-selling plant-based bacon – as soon as it hits the frying pan, your kitchen smells of bacon! Egg alternative Crack’d, which is perfect for baking, scrambling, omelets, and Yorkshire puddings!
Basically, people want excellent food that is entirely plant-based. These four brands have created high-quality products that can entirely replicate their meat/dairy/non-vegan counterparts. Our customers love having products they are used to, and they enjoyed before going plant-based but which are entirely made from sustainable plant-based ingredients.
GQ: What’s the unique selling point about The Vegan Kind?
SM: We are a 100% plant-based and vegan online superstore with next-day delivery, seven days a week, and with the most extensive 100% range to be found in the UK, if not the world. Over 6,000 items in stock. No label checking for animal ingredients.
GQ: Share more about some of the product search trends on the rise over the past few months.
SM: One of the growing trends in the plant-based space is dog food. Customers have realised that a plant-based diet can also be really healthy for their dogs. So many fantastic dog food brands have launched in recent months, such as The Pack, and we have even more coming in the following weeks, and we know there are a lot more going through the start-up phase right now. At The Vegan Kind, we have the most extensive range, all in one place.
GQ: Who is your average customer?
SM: Our typical customer is a person who cares about Animals, Health, or the Planet – or these three things combined, follows a plant-based diet, or is vegan-curious. It’s an ethical consumer who cares about the future of planet Earth and wants to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
As part of our new re-brand, we have tried to encapsulate our average customer, both within the design but also in our Core Pillars: Animal Kind, Human Kind, Planet Kind; as well as within our messaging: Ethical Shopping Made Simple, Making Plant-Based Living Effortless, Plant-Based for the Planet and of course our original tagline since day one is still there – Be Kind, Go Vegan.
GQ: What have been some of the biggest challenges operating an online vegan retail platform?
SM: Wondering why people aren’t going plant-based faster! At TVK, we are obviously immersed in the beauty of a vegan lifestyle and all the eye-opening benefits and improvements it can have on our people and our Planet (not least, of course, the sparing of billions of animal lives). And although the message is being conveyed on a daily basis via fantastic news outlets such as Green Queen Media, and even though across the globe we have made monumental gains in the last five years – we absolutely need those gains to go tenfold over the next five years time!
GQ: If you raised 100 million dollars tomorrow, what would you spend it on?
SM: Wow. It seems a lot of money, but if I said something like ‘end climate change’ or ‘end animal agriculture, it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough. So I guess, to be pragmatic, it would be to make plant-based menus mandatory in all schools and hospitals. I.e. remove all meat and dairy from the menus and instead serve plant-based food and drink options.
If we could teach our children that harming animals is not needed to produce food and show those in hospital treatments that a plant-based diet is optimal for health, we could fundamentally make a real change within society. However, I’m not sure that feels enough to tackle the current problem. Can you give me a hypothetical billion instead?
GQ: It’s hard to not talk about the pandemic. Did Covid-19 hurt or help your business?
SM: There is no denying that when the pandemic started, it actually helped our business. As a next-day delivery food provider, we couldn’t keep up with demand, which was challenging in and of itself. We definitely felt a burden to serve the public. At the early stage of the pandemic, we were classed as ‘key workers’, able to work and deliver food to the nation. It was a crazy time, with many vulnerable people in distress turning to us for reliable service. I know that for 99.9% of our customers, we did manage to provide.
We worked night and day as a Team to keep the stock coming in and orders going back out again – the business exploded, but as aforementioned, it was an extremely challenging time. It felt less about growth and profitability and more just a real sense of responsibility to keep going full steam every day in order to keep up with the sheer amount of orders and customer requests coming at us.
However, it also led to us being in a vulnerable position after the pandemic. We were under a lot of pressure. In the meantime, we managed to find investors in the business who have been amazing and helped take TVK to the next level throughout 2021.
GQ: Why would a customer choose The Vegan Kind over other platforms like Ocado? What makes your platform different?
SM: Well – we are an independent, family-owned vegan company. 98% of our 50 staff are vegan. We are mission-led, and we believe The Vegan Kind has played a crucial role in the growth of veganism within the UK since 2013 when we set up. We make it easy to go vegan with our monthly subscription boxes and then stay vegan, offering 6,000 products on a carbon-neutral next-day delivery service, seven days a week.
When you shop at TVK, you know there is no label checking (other than for allergens, which we do indeed allow you to filter by), and you also know you are getting a fantastic 5-star platinum-rated service. We also plant one tree for every order placed and have a carbon-positive workforce. We are experts in our field. On our website, you will see that the usability, the range of products, the customer experience is on par with the bigger supermarkets.
We knew that for more people to go vegan, we were going to have to level up and provide a shopping experience that was competitive when compared to the multi-billion dollar supermarkets. So we have done just that. Also – when you shop at The Vegan Kind, you join Team TVK in our mission. You become part of a movement that is more important now than ever before. Plant-Based for the Planet!
All images courtesy of The Vegan Kind.