What does caring about animals and supporting their welfare have to do with brand success in 2021? More than one might think.
A 2019 study by Nielsen found that food and beverages in the US that were labeled as “cruelty-free” saw year-on-year growth of 28.7% — beating out the likes of “grass-fed” and “grain-free”.
And as the numbers of vegans and vegetarians grow worldwide, it’s the younger audiences who are the driving force behind it. A 2018 study by Acosta found that — of all generations surveyed — Millennials showed the highest rates of interest in veganism (38%), vegetarianism (50%), and flexitarianism (63%).
While these kinds of diets are often adopted to support sustainability and the environment, they also have a great deal to do with an increasing interest in animal welfare. And even people who still eat meat are becoming more invested in the quality of animals’ lives — seen in the push toward stricter life-quality requirements.
However, it’s not just food and beverage brands that need to consider their stance on animal welfare. A recent study by GlobalData found that 44% of consumers look for a “cruelty-free” label when shopping for beauty and personal care products.
Clearly, animal welfare affects more industries than one might assume — from clothing to tobacco to cosmetics companies. And as consumers continue to push for more brand transparency and activism from brands, they’ll need to start considering animal welfare if they want to succeed with certain target audiences.
From cruelty-free testing to the use of vegan materials, there’s a lot that brands can (and should) be doing if they want to keep up with the times. Let’s discuss in more depth why animal welfare will be important for brands going forward — as well as some tips on how to incorporate it into your own brand marketing strategy.
What is Animal Welfare, and Which Audiences Care About It?
When considering what animal welfare is, a widely agreed-upon definition is hard to come by — as formal standards vary based on the context and location.
As a general rule, animal welfare is the well-being of non-human animals and has to do with the belief that non-human animals are sentient beings and should be treated as such.
As the top-ranking member of the food chain, humans are in many ways responsible for the wellbeing of all other animals. This includes, but is not limited to, how animals are used in scientific research, slaughtered for food, and cared for in zoos, on farms, or as pets.
Furthermore, animal welfare has to do with how human choices and activities affect the welfare and survival of wild animals — something brands should definitely consider as well.
While some people believe that humans are not in any way responsible for the wellbeing of animals, others believe that animals should have the same rights as humans and should not be used in any way. While these two opposing views represent the extremes on both sides, most consumers fall somewhere in between.
So, what does animal welfare mean for modern brands? Well, it depends on a company’s products, services, location, and goals. Some brands may not need to consider animal welfare overly much to be successful. However, most brands do.
A recent study by the ASPCA in the US found that 77% of consumers are concerned about animal welfare as it applies to their food — and are willing to pay a premium for animal welfare certifications.
Younger generations are even more concerned about this issue than older generations, with Millennials and Gen Z’ers driving a worldwide shift towards plant-based diets. And with increasing spending power over the next few years, these up-and-coming consumers are willing to pay more money to brands who prioritize animal welfare.
So, if your target audiences include Millennials, Gen Z’ers, those interested in sustainability and the environment, vegans/vegetarians, or so many others — you should consider how your brand approaches animal welfare.
Modern consumers are doing their due diligence when it comes to holding brands to higher standards than ever before. So, if you want to improve brand trust and perception, consider the following tips.
What Can Brands Do to Support Animal Welfare & Show Consumers They Care?
There are many ways that brands can show consumers they care about animal welfare.
From donating money to animal welfare foundations to ensuring all their products have reputable certifications — making real changes will show consumers that you’re a trustworthy brand that lives up to its values.
So, let’s discuss a few steps brands can take.
1. Add Certification Labels from Independent, Third-Party Sources
According to Alicia Kelso of GroceryDive, “nearly 90% of consumers want an independent, third party certifying animal products for humane treatment.” Plus, 67% of consumers state that they would purchase welfare-certified products even if it means a rise in price.
Clearly, consumers are invested in animal welfare. But it’s important to note that not all labels added to products that make animal welfare claims are reputable. For example, there’s no legal definition of “humane” or “free-range”.
Therefore, if brands want to show consumers that they are dedicated to animal welfare, they should put in the time and effort to get certification labels from verified, third-party sources.
From the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) to Certified Humane® (CH) to V-Label®, there are plenty of verified certificates to choose from.
And that doesn’t just apply to food and beverage brands. Any brand that uses animal or vegan products should consider the above-mentioned certifications to show consumers that they share their values.
2. Increase Transparency Concerning Ingredients & Materials Used
Gone are the days when consumers trust brands implicitly. Thanks to the internet, we have access to all the information one could ever need. In keeping with this shift, consumers are also demanding more transparency from brands than ever before.
This is especially true when it comes to the ingredients, materials, and practices used by today’s brands. A 2018 study found that in the US, 86% of consumers have more trust for brands that provide ingredient definitions beyond the label and 80% are more loyal to brands that provide in-depth product info.
And — perhaps most importantly — 54% of consumers are willing to pay more for products with in-depth product info. As we can see, consumers want to know what brands are putting into their goods — and they’re willing to go the extra mile to find out.
Smart brands will move with this trend, allowing consumers a real glimpse behind the scenes. As Millennials and Gen Z’ers become the main buying force in years to come, brands can satisfy their interest in animal welfare with heightened transparency about the ingredients, materials, and practices used.
3. Be Vocal About Their Position on Animal Welfare & Take Action
For brands that want to take it a step further and really show consumers that animal welfare is an important issue for them, they should find ways to be vocal about their position and take action.
A great example of brands doing just that? Dove and The Body Shop. Though the brands are rivals in the beauty industry, they have recently joined forces to raise awareness about the EU rolling back promises to stop animal testing in cosmetics.
Both committed to transparency and animal welfare, these brands are helping animal rights activists like PETA and Humane Society International garner signatures for a petition to fight the recent test requirements from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
Both Dove and The Body Shop see this as an opportunity to be honest with consumers and to stand up for what their brands value. They also made it clear in an interview with MarketingWeek that this collaboration wasn’t just a marketing play, stating:
“any purpose-driven marketing without meaningful, tangible targets to help the planet or drive societal change should be shredded and drawn up again.”
By taking action and making their position on animal testing and welfare very clear, Dove and The Body Shop showed consumers what matters to them, matters to the brands as well.
Audiences interested in animal welfare are sure to flock to these kinds of brands — those who aren’t afraid to help bring about meaningful change and support causes that they find important.
There are many different ways that brands can show consumers that they support animal welfare — from making donations to charities to acquiring the right accreditation to taking a vocal stand.
Though supporting animal welfare may not be a top-tier priority for all brands, it’s still important that companies take a deep dive into the interests of their target audience.
And if they should find a consistent interest in issues like animal welfare, sustainability, and transparency, we recommend trying out our above-mentioned tips.
Not sure how to figure out what values are important to your target audience? That’s where brand monitoring comes in. From tracking standard KPIs like brand awareness and consideration to customized brand associations, you can figure out how consumers perceive your brand.
And should that perception not align with your goals, you’ll know it’s time to make some changes.