A recent consumer focus group conducted on behalf of OFBF’s Animals for Life Foundation by Wilt Public Relations of Springfield found that even regular meat-eating consumers are uncomfortable thinking and talking about how animals are used for human benefit. While they do not seek out information about animal care or how animals are used to their benefit, their opinions about food production and animal care are strongly influenced by emotional appeals and information about these subjects from family and friends and mass media.
When it comes to the human-animal bond, consumers relate easily to images and messages about animals being used for companion, recreational and assistance uses. They are slower to appreciate images and messages about the benefits of animals for food production and research.
The approaches that influenced focus group participants included emotional appeals, shock and surprise and factual information. The most influential sources of this information included family and friends, veterinarians, and those with similar religious and spiritual viewpoints. When delivered via mass media, consumers were most likely to get this information from the web and television.
A similar sized sample of stakeholders, including farmers, agricultural and veterinary professionals, were interviewed on a one-on-one basis. All agreed that emotional appeals are an acceptable approach to finding common ground with consumers with one caveat – that the appeal is supported by factual information.
Stakeholders did not place an equal value on an animal life and a human life, although they held the animal life in high regard. Consumers were more likely to attribute similar value to both animal and human life and to expect mutual benefits between the two.
The stakeholders interviewed largely agree that to continue efficient food production we must openly discuss production philosophies other than those promoting a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
OFBF is responding with an initiative that will position the issue of human-animal interactions in a way that will help consumers and stakeholders find common ground. Led by the Center for Food and Animal Issues via the Animals for Life Foundation, it will employ two major strategies:
1. develop strategic partnerships with stakeholders, and
2. build community around the cause of the human-animal bond.
The campaign theme, which tested well with both consumers and stakeholders will be “Life is Better with Animals” and will be expressed through touching images and words that show humans and animals interacting with mutual benefit.
Advertisements, fact sheets, articles and social media will bear the theme and supporting messages, including:
- Animals make human life better in many ways and vice versa
- Using animals as part of a modern lifestyle is natural – the way God/Mother Nature intended.
- We care about the well-being of animals. (“We” includes farmers, veterinarians, medical professionals, zookeepers and other stakeholders.)
For more information as the campaign is launched in 2011, visit the Animals for Life Foundation website.