Happy Cow was born in 1999 as a service to assist travellers and people everywhere find restaurants, bars, pubs and supermarkets offering vegan options. So, a vegan/ veggie version of the infamous TripAdvisor; an utterly important resource for restaurant owners, as it represents a double-way communication channel between businesses and consumers that allows them to share opinions and reviews.
A tested model that in the case of a niche market such as the vegan one is more than needed. In fact, vegan culture and lifestyle have spread largely thanks to the Internet and social media (find out more on our blog: https://thevegansaladblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/vegani-in-aumento-grazie-social/). Ideas spread faster on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, only to mention a few: a nice pic or a relevant hashtag, adding geolocalization perhaps, speak directly to the target and arouse curiosity more than any written text.
Companies that want to become popular in the food sector, where consumers are more and more influenced by virtual reviews and WOM, must make their presence felt on platforms such as Happy Cow. In fact, these allow them to make people aware of their presence in a transparent way. Also by replying to comments and reviews, especially if negative: it is important that the customer always feels he/ she has been useful, that his/ her opinion matters. Moreover, this allows to create more authentic relationships.
But let’s go back to the service: Happy Cow allows to specify the search area in kilometers and the particular need, both for the offer (vegan/vegetarian/some vegetarian options/raw food/vegan grocery store) and the favourite kind of diner: Italian, Asian, American, bakery, breakfast, Chinese, fast food, Juice bar, Mexican, to name a few.
For each venue it is possible to access an exhaustive tab including information about opening hours, price range, phone number, address and map, links to official website and Facebook page, if any. But that is not all: the most interesting section provides pictures and reviews of the users who have already experienced it. In Italy reviews and reviewed places are relatively few, but they continue to grow and the service is becoming more and more used and popular.
The app is available in two different versions: one is for free and another at a cost of €3,99. The trial version has obviously some limitations; the paid one, besides the normal research, allows to save the favourite spots but also to organize a trip, enabling the offline consultation of saved data. To download the app: here there is the one for iOS, here the Android version.
Happycow.net is also a website addressing the vegan world with a comprehensive approach, providing a lot of recipes, reviews and insights on ethical and health-related issues.