Young Men, Republican Women, And More: Targeting Some Key Subgroups
In April, we published a report looking at how likely different groups are to take pro-animal actions. That report and its companion graphing tool let us compare people in different regions, with different levels of concern about climate change, or even distance from their nearest grocery store–or using one of many other characteristics. But since then, some advocates have asked us about how those characteristics combine: What about young men, rather than just men? Or people who live in the suburbs? This blog post follows up on some of those useful combinations, but let us know if you have more!
Young men can be a challenging group for animal advocates to reach: Outreach that works well for college-aged women doesn’t necessarily strike a chord with men in the same age bracket. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no way to engage young men in change for animals! Our study found that men ages 18-24 were most open to voting for ballot measures or signing petitions aimed at improving farmed animal welfare. The next most popular action with young men was support for Meatless Mondays in schools. However, college-aged men were less supportive of meat-free school lunches than some other groups. For example, 45% of young men said they would support this policy compared to 58% of all 18-24-year olds, 51% of all men, and 61% of the U.S. as a whole. Young men were also less likely to center a meal around a plant-based protein (41%) compared to their age group as a whole (47%), all men (45%), and the whole country (49%).
College-aged women were much more open to actions that help animals than young men are. In fact, women ages 18-24 years old are probably one of the groups most likely to take action for animals and are more open to each action we asked about than the U.S. public as a whole. More than 80% of young women said they would sign a petition to help farmed animals, meaning advocates trying to get signatures for things like corporate campaigns or to get initiatives on the ballot would probably find a lot of support with them. Even for actions that take a little more effort, like making sure they don’t buy clothing and accessories made from animal-based materials, young women were much more open than the whole U.S. population or even other women and 18-24-year-olds.
Overall, women were one of the groups that were most open to taking actions to help animals. Republicans were not as keen. So what about women who are also Republicans? For the most part, Republican women were much less open to pro-animal actions than women as a whole, but still usually more open than their fellow Republicans. For example, over two-thirds of women overall expressed support for Meatless Mondays in schools, but the same was only true of half of Republican women. However, there’s one key exception worth noting here: Republican women said they were particularly likely to buy only ‘cruelty free’ products. In fact, making sure to purchase solely ‘cruelty free’ products was the third most popular action with Republican women.
In our report, we followed the common convention of classifying participants as coming from either urban areas or rural areas. Some advocates were curious about how suburban residents might look different from those groups, so we re-categorized participants as urban, suburban, or rural.
We found that suburban residents didn’t necessarily respond more like urban residents or more like rural residents. For some actions, openness mirrored geography and suburban residents fell somewhere between urban and rural residents. In other cases, like voting for a ballot measure designed to improve farmed animal welfare, suburban residents responded similarly to rural residents. There were also actions that suburban residents responded to more like urban residents, like voting for a political candidate based on their animal welfare positions. There were even multiple examples of suburban residents being more open to certain pro-animal actions, such as calling/writing a government representative about improving farm animal welfare, than either urban or rural residents. In other words, suburban residents are pretty distinct from both rural and urban residents and might require different approaches to outreach.
Low-Income Black Families
In our initial report on this subject, we discuss what advocate Brenda Sanders has referred to as “drive-by activism,” advocacy that sees people from outside of a community briefly visiting in order to promote their beliefs without getting to know the community, its members, or their perspectives. These activists also fail to let members of the community lead outreach efforts. In the same article, Sanders explains that “most of the tactics currently being used in mainstream animal rights activism” would not be effective in low-income Black communities, and that “the glaring disregard for low-income communities of color needs to be addressed.” In light of these important points, the last two subgroups we look at for this post are Black and Hispanic or Latino/a/x participants from households with under $25,000 in annual income.
Even though Black participants with household incomes under $25,000 were less open to several actions than the U.S. public overall–for example, 64% of these participants were open to voting for a ballot measure aimed at improving conditions for farmed animals compared to 73% of the whole population–there are some major exceptions. Probably the most notable of these is how likely they said they were to cut some or all of the animal products out of their diets–almost twice as likely as the overall population. Nearly a third of Black participants with household incomes under $25,000 said they were likely to remove beef and pork from their diet in the next year. Over one in five said they were likely to go pescatarian in the next year, and one in ten said they were likely to go vegan and vegetarian.
Low-Income Hispanic or Latino/a/x Families
In many cases, Hispanic or Latino/a/x participants with household incomes under $25,000 were more open to actions that help animals than the rest of the U.S. For example, they were more likely to attend a protest or demonstration focused on farmed animals and to post about farmed animal welfare on social media. Fully half of low-income Hispanic or Latino/a/x participants said they were likely to donate to a farmed animal advocacy organization if asked, similar to the results of Hispanic or Latino/a/x participants overall. With most pro-animal asks, advocates working with low-income Hispanic or Latino/a/x communities may have a lot of success in their outreach.
The handful of groups we looked at here show the importance of considering both the characteristics of your audience and how that audience might respond to your specific asks. Just because a group of people is open or resistant to one pro-animal action doesn’t mean that they’ll feel the same way toward other actions. Advocates should also be careful not to expect certain results based on one characteristic (e.g., gender), because other characteristics (e.g., party affiliation) might affect how open they are. Even though many advocates might not have great demographic data about their audiences, they can still make informed decisions about their outreach based on the information they do know, like the region of the country a campaign will be running in. Advocates who are able to be more specific about their audiences, like with targeted social media ads, should use the results from this research to inform their decisions.
The single biggest takeaway from this research is that simply focusing on either the audience or the ask may not tell the whole story. In other words, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. Considering your audience, your asks, and the interactions between them could save valuable resources, making your advocacy more efficient and more effective.
Advocates, researchers, students, and others who are interested in exploring the results for groups not included in this post can access the data and can reach out to Faunalytics Research Scientist Zach Wulderk ([email protected]) with any questions. A full list of the actions and characteristics can be found in the report or in the methodology tab of the results graphing tool.