How Greggs made a comeback by marketing to millennials
March 6 2019

The way we eat and drink has changed. Rumour has it that current twentysomethings prefer to stay in or work out at the gym over drinking the night away as they would have done every decade since the turn of the century. What’s more, is that the way they eat has also changed: healthy eating has replaced diets and snacking and ‘eating out’ has turned to ‘eating in’ thanks to all the ingredient boxes delivering carefully portioned ingredients and recipe cards right onto your doorstep. For Millennials, being lean and clean has overtaken being paunchy and pissed. This would have been a pretty grim prospect a few years ago for bakery chain Greggs, which, with its sausage rolls and sugary doughnuts, was not exactly at the forefront of the healthy movement. But they were not about to get left behind and did a swift 180 degrees by transforming their marketing approach to get them right back in the hearts and on the plates of the young generations.


These clever moves are how they did it:

  • Brand – Greggs changed their brand from ‘bakery’ to ‘food on the go’ to appeal to new health-conscious gen y

  • Gourmet stunts – To highlight their new range of healthy food and treats, Greggs went undercover at a gourmet food festival in Syon Park as ‘Gregory & Gregory’, revealing to impressed festival-goers their true identity at the end of the day

  • Vegan sausage roll – To capitalise on the veganism wave sweeping the UK, Greggs introduced into their bakery range a vegan sausage roll and at the same time,  a locator to help people locate the stores that sell them. These were an overnight success with stores regularly selling out and long queues outside many of the stores

  • Topical activities  - Marketing to Millennials means taking social media very seriously, and Greggs has done so very well in recent years by capitalising on the topical nature of the medium. They have held Valentine’s Day dinners in stores featuring prosecco and a four-course meal, made a Nativity where the baby Jesus is replaced by a sausage roll and, to celebrate the launch of their 2018 Christmas Menu, made sure to feature in the reflection the window display of the famed Fenwick’s Christmas windows by flipping the letters of their sign across the street  

  • Social media – The marketing team have carefully studied the way Millennials talk to each other and post on social media and have begun to replicate it in a unique way, for example by posting on Instagram images of tweets mentioning them, in a way that positions them as one of the group and makes sure they are front of mind next time their customers are hungry. Greggs now has a 'cult' following, with Greggs Appreciation profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 


With rapidly changing consumer habits, staying afloat as a business is tough and many more ‘traditional’ businesses don’t make it. A radical change of tone is needed but not every brand is able to be so brave. Greggs has jumped right in and the payoff is that they get to be a new generation’s favourite high street shop once more.


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