The Sheer Genius of Greggs' Marketing Strategy

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Have you heard about the new Greggs sausage roll? Inevitably, yes. You haven’t heard about M&S’s new microwaveable coq au vain or Pret’s gluten-free meatball flatbread, but Greggs has got on your radar. This is exclusively thanks to their unparalleled marketing strategy

They launched their vegan sausage roll in the style of an iPhone drop, with an epically-orchestrated launch video and a mass delivery of the new sausage rolls boxed in iPhone-style packaging to journalists. Creating tongue-in-cheek shareable content like this makes media outlets much more likely to write about it, and as a result, Greggs’s coverage has increased tenfold.

Even the follow-up from the launch was genius. Whoever mans the Greggs Twitter feed needs a promotion. When Piers Morgan piped up with a sarcastic tweet about how no-one wanted vegan sausage rolls, Greggs quipped back, ‘Oh hello Piers, we’ve been expecting you’. *Round of applause to Greggs*. 

Using controversy and their slightly low-brow reputation as a ‘sausage roll brand’ has played to their favour in the past, and it’s no wonder Greggs is trying it again. The self-effacing humour has proved an absolute hit with the British public time and time again, so much so we’d like to give you a brief recap of their genius from over the years.

March 2016 - The Nappuccino

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To launch its new flat white, Greggs brought us ‘Nappuccino: the giant coffee cups in Potters Field in London, in which city workers could have a 20-minute power nap before grabbing their Greggs coffee. How good.

Christmas 2017 - The Sausage Roll Jesus

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Remember this picture? The final window in the Greggs advent calendar caused a bit of a stir with Christians the world over, resulting in an apology from the company. But all publicity is good publicity, and this was the point at which Greggs’ surreal marketing strategies hit the newsstands and entered public consciousness. 

Feb 2018: Love is pastries

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Greggs stores opened their doors to adoring couples for a candlelit Valentine’s Dinner, complete with waiters, classical music and a four course meal consisting of, well, pastries.

May 2018: Trolling food critics

‘The avocado is so au fait at the moment, it definitely pops’ was one critic’s reaction as Greggs went undercover as ‘Gregory & Gregory’, an entirely fictional boutique bakery pop-up at a gourmet food festival, all documented on Greggs’ highly popular YouTube account.

November 2018: Festive trolling

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As the Newcastle Fenwick’s major Christmas window display lit up, Greggs – strategically placed opposite Fenwick – inverted its logo in order to be reflected in the Christmas window. Yes, only one store. Yes, a small-scale operation. With national news coverage. Worth it? I think so.

December 2018: Merchandise empire?

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Sausage roll iPhone cases and Greggs Christmas jumpers were made available in-store, eligible for special Greggs gift-wrapping.

None of these ingenious campaigns have involved any major expenditure for the brand. Greggs hasn’t had to recruit hundreds of branded-cap-wearing university students to hand out free products to commuters. It hasn’t broken the bank to pay for a global ad campaign. It’s utilised its social media platforms, which have comparatively large followings, and come up with creative, pithy campaigns. The Greggs marketing team has listened to the public perception of the brand, and laughed along with consumers. Other companies would do well to do the same.

When you search for ‘Greggs’ on any major news platform, all you see is ‘shares rise at Greggs’ and ‘Greggs open more stores’. In a difficult economic climate, Greggs continue to thrive. And it’s sure as hell not down to the taste of their sausage rolls.

Alex Weston