In recent years, corporate lobbying has played an increasing role in animal advocacy. Advocates have successfully pressured companies to stop using gestation crates, or switch to cage-free egg suppliers, among other welfare improvements. The best part: companies themselves say these changes can be directly attributed to pressure from animal advocacy groups.
Public reaction to these commitments is important because it’s important to corporations. They care about their image and whether it will affect their bottom line for better or for worse.
To gauge public reaction, we analyzed responses to announcements of corporations’ cage-free egg commitments on social media. Some announcements came from the companies themselves, others were in news stories. Although not everyone uses or comments on social media, a lot of the public discussion of these announcements occurs there, on articles posted to places like Facebook.
From our analysis, these are the top 5 takeaways:
#1 – Comments on cage-free announcements were more positive than comments on other social-media posts! To look at this, we compared the comments on cage-free posts against a set of other posts that were matched on source and date, and found that the cage-free announcements had more positive reactions and fewer negative ones.
#2 – Most critical comments on cage-free announcements focused on long transition timelines, or said the change doesn’t go far enough. In good news for advocates and corporations alike, few people criticized the corporation for making the move itself. Of those who did, most were concerned about the potentially higher cost of cage-free eggs.
#3 – Complacency was rare. Almost no one made comments suggesting that these welfare reforms are sufficient or that no more action is needed. Nor was there a rush of new consumers saying they were going to purchase more eggs from these corporations.
#4 – Animal advocates appear to be relatively invisible in these reforms – and that’s probably a good thing. Why? Well, only a few commenters referred to animal advocates, advocacy groups, or even vegans in their responses to the articles. The kicker: most of those references were negative, and they tended to occur in articles that explicitly referred to advocacy groups or in response to other commenters with a clear advocacy agenda. This suggests that, as long as the media doesn’t play up advocates’ role in obtaining corporate commitments, it doesn’t come to mind for most people. Given that—when it did come to mind—the most common response was negative, we consider this a good thing and something to aim for.
#5 – Very few corporations had announced their cage-free commitments on their Facebook pages. Only 10 out of 75 restaurant corporations that we looked at had actually announced their commitment on Facebook. We suspect that many corporations may be concerned about public reaction. But, as the results of this study show, reaction isn’t nearly as negative as people may have assumed. We hope that these findings are reassuring, and will encourage future commitments. Making a public announcement is a well-known way of ensuring follow-through, so we hope that advocates can use these results to encourage more openness from corporations in the future.
Faunalytics wants to help you along your journey to Know More, until a day when there is No More animal abuse. Thank you so much for checking out our study summary. Be sure to subscribe to our channel to be updated when we release videos about our studies and others, and check out the links in the video description to see the full results and data.