Marketing Animal-Friendly Products: A Framework
When choosing products to buy, consumers concerned about the welfare of animals are faced with a social dilemma: they can choose the usually more expensive animal-friendly products or the cheaper mainstream products. Thus, individuals “trade off” animal welfare for another benefit, in this case cheaper prices. This dilemma presents one of the biggest barriers for selling animal-friendly products because, when forced, many people are more inclined to make a choice that benefits themselves (i.e., cheaper prices) rather than others (i.e., animals). This paper draws on marketing literature to explore different strategies that companies might use to encourage people to choose animal-friendly products.
First, one way sellers can overcome this trade-off barrier is by associating the animal-friendly products with other benefits to consumers. In other words, instead of only emphasizing animal-friendliness, marketers could communicate for example, that their products offer health benefits, taste good, elicit positive emotions, promote social acceptance, or increase knowledge about animal welfare issues. They can communicate these benefits on the product’s packaging as well as in advertisements on websites and in other sources of information.
Second, individuals with different thinking styles will react differently to marketing strategies and messages. People with a more rational thinking style are receptive to appeals that emphasize the practical benefits of buying animal-friendly products. For example, messages that highlight the health benefits of animal-friendly products are more persuasive for this group. On the other hand, emotional appeals work better for people with intuitive-experiential thinking styles. Therefore, messages that focus on how purchasing animal-friendly products reduces animal suffering might be more effective with these individuals; they can feel good about the positive impact of their choice.
Third, depending on the extent to which people believe that animals have feelings, thoughts, and humanlike characteristics, marketers should consider whether to emphasize the product or the production process. People who believe that animals are conscious beings with emotional capacities akin to humans are more likely to think that the production process should take into account the well-being of the animals. However, people who don’t think animals possess these capabilities may respond more positively to product-related features.
Fourth, marketers might want to consider collaborating with other stakeholders that are often responsible for validating product claims, such as the media, animal-interest organizations, and consumer organizations. Consumers are more likely to trust and, as a result, purchase products that these stakeholders endorse. Importantly, this approach is only possible in countries where such stakeholders are particularly influential and considered trustworthy sources of information.
Finally, consumers are likely influenced by a company’s image and reputation. Consumers might also compare their knowledge of a company’s overall ethical policy to the welfare claims of the animal-friendly product. Therefore, companies selling animal-friendly products are advised to maintain a positive image and proactive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, which articulates their approach to fulfilling societal obligations, including animal welfare.