Survey: How veggie is the digital industry?

Read here how the digital industry feels about meat consumption and what food trends have to do with digitalization.

Sustainability: digitalization as a driver of public opinion
Image: © Pixel Shot /Adobe Stock

Sustainability through digitalization: how the digital industry is triggering a change in awareness

Eating less meat or even none at all is right on trend. Whether tofu steak, ground soy, or vegan salami, the grocery store shelves are now full of tasty alternatives to meat. The reason is obvious: eating less meat or giving it up entirely is both healthy and good for the climate. A study published on the Statista portal revealed that 7.9 million people in Germany now consider themselves vegetarian or eat as little meat as possible. So, what’s behind the shift? Don’t get us wrong: we’re not trying to persuade you to give up meat, nor are we advertising vegetarian products, although we generally see this as a positive lifestyle change. What we do want to explore, though – after all, we’re a mouthpiece for the digital industry – is how digitalization is bringing about a change in awareness toward sustainable and healthy food consumption.

Sustainability and digitalization: Is the digital industry making the world a little better?

Particularly from a marketing perspective, the digital industry significantly influences public opinion. Advertising is pretty much everywhere and has made its way into all aspects of everyday life. People are constantly confronted with messages and images of how society expects them to behave. In the fifties, it was hardworking housewives relying on tried-and-tested kitchen appliances and products to spoil their husbands with an elaborate dinner. There’s no better example of that than the German commercial “Wenn man’s eilig hat” (English: “When you’re in a rush”) from food brand Dr. Oetker:

Luckily, we’ve come a long way since then. Nowadays, advertising depicts emancipated and free-spirited people who want to lead a healthier and more mindful life. A commercial released by the German drugstore chain “dm” last year is a great comparison:

Sustainability is now a trend, and agencies are increasingly developing advertising campaigns that focus on sustainable aspects. New communication strategies and digital tools are also helping companies take a more conscious approach. From social media and direct marketing to new forms of OOH advertising – sustainability and mindfulness are all-pervasive today, at least in advertising. Advertising not only reflects the mood of the times, it shapes it as well. As “communicators”, marketers really do influence public awareness in society. If you’re in the advertising profession yourself – whether as a service provider or as an employee at a company – you should always remember that your work also contributes or could contribute to this change in awareness. We find that a really interesting thought.

Sustainability: digitalization as a driver of healthy eating

However, it’s not just advertising but also digitalization itself that’s helping to change public opinion of meat consumption and other topics. Digitalization has revolutionized our lives in many different ways over recent decades, opening up a whole new world of networking and making information constantly available to us wherever we are. That has influenced how we think about and perceive things and made us more aware of the negative implications of eating meat. Nowadays, anyone who wants to can access recent studies and relevant information about intensive animal farming and its impact on the climate. Armed with this knowledge, many people are starting to rethink their actions and even reducing how much meat they consume.

Modern forms of communication are raising awareness of sustainability

Let’s not forget that today’s influencers are also to thank for the growing publicity and popularity of low-meat and vegan products. One example is the viral German YouTube survival series 7 vs. Wild, whose main sponsor is yfood, a manufacturer of vegan on-the-go products.

In numerous episodes, the famous participants were shown drinking the brand’s oat milk beverages. What’s more, to mark the launch of the highly successful series, the products were prominently displayed in many grocery stores. It was an extremely effective advertising campaign, which definitely made people more aware of alternatives to animal products. This and many other examples show how advertising and the opportunities presented by digital communication are influencing our society’s awareness of such topics – even if that wasn’t the actual goal of the campaigns.

Survey: How vegetarian is the digital industry itself?

At this point, we were actually intending to ask you – particularly the advertisers among you – what you think about sustainability and digitalization, but our colleagues from the social media department had a pretty clever idea instead. We followed their advice and took the liberty of conducting a LinkedIn survey about your attitudes to giving up meat. We wanted to find out how veggie the digital industry is. The enthusiastic response took us by surprise, with almost one hundred experts from our community completing the survey. Here are the results:

How veggie is the marketing industry?

Go vegan: No animals for me!
Oat or cow milk: I don't care!
Meat is my vegetable!

The bottom line

While the DMEXCO community has really mixed opinions on the topic, it’s clear that meat is no longer the most important source of protein for many of you. Animal products feature on the menu for less than half of those who responded, while nearly a third follow a vegan diet. Less than a quarter of the digital experts declare themselves devout meat lovers. And finally, 17 percent consider themselves flexitarians, consuming both vegan and animal products.

It goes without saying that this study isn’t representative and should be taken with a grain of salt, but it does paint an interesting picture of food trends. All that’s left to say is bon appétit – whatever’s being served up!