Last month, the FMCG company, Rude Health, known for its alternative, dairy-free milks, announced it was launching a full fat dairy product. 

They have a range of premium products that sell like hot cakes to a largely vegan customer base - a market which is steadily increasing, as consumers want to reduce their negative impact on animals and the environment. So why would they risk upsetting their happy buyers? Surely, they are not putting profits before their brand reputation and customers? 

Vegans typically buy into the ethics of a business as much as the product itself, and generally avoid investing in products whose supply chain they can't rely on to be cruelty free. 

Although diversifying your portfolio is often good for growth, the potential harm to your brand should also be considered. I have no idea how much market research went into this product, but perhaps they weighed up the risks of losing some vegan retailers and customers, and felt they still came out winning. 

To add insult to injury, co-founder, Camilla Barnard, seemed to be attacking her customer base by calling veganism a 'fad' in a blog post on the company website. 

We're yet to see what the real impact on profits will be, given vegans are often activists, adept at social media and good at boycotting. On the other hand, the quality of Rude Health products are considered superior to many other brands in this industry, so will it be all that easy for customers to let go? 

Time will tell.

For more information on product development and marketing, email rakhee@tigrismanagement.com for an informal discussion.