An Overview Of Our Solution
Meat and animal product industries are a cause for some of our greatest environmental challenges (i.e. deforestation, emissions, habitat destruction/biodiversity loss, etc.). MeatLess May is a behaviour change campaign design to nudge individuals to reduce their meat consumption for the month of May.
- Population Impacted 1150
- Continent: Africa
Cape Town, and surrounding areas, are amidst the worst drought in living memory, and with the status recently declared a ‘national disaster’, government stakeholders and citizens are looking for measures to reduce water consumption for the long term. The Meatless May campaign was designed with this outlook in mind as it seeks to prompt South Africans to reduce their meat consumption for the month. In food production, the largest portion of water is used by the meat industry. However, barriers include not only by social norms around meat consumption, but also by the hassle factors surrounding sign up and the intention action gap. This gap means that, although an individual may intend to sign up or reduce their meat consumption, their actions may not actually align with this intention. With these barriers in mind, interventions were designed to increased behaviour adoption (i.e. sign up) as well as behaviour adherence (i.e. commitment to meat reduction) regarding Meatless May campaign.
Describe the technical solution you wanted the target audience to adopt
The aim of MeatLess May is to get individuals to challenge their diet habits by committing to a reduction of meat and animal product consumption for a month (May). In order to challenge themselves we required individuals to make a commitment by signing-up to a meat reduction category on our website (www.meatlessmay.me). Once signed-up the individuals names becomes publically displayed.
Type of intervention
Describe your behavioral intervention
Intervention took the form of a webpage/social media (Instagram/Facebook)/poster/ and table topper which were placed in participating restaurants where Capetonians would be prompted to sign up (adoption). Tactics for increased sign-up:
- Broad framing of benefits: allowed the campaign to appeal to a larger audience
- Inclusive & accessible: 3 challenge categories of differing meat/animal product reduction were designed to allow individuals at differing stages of their meat reduction journey to feel included in joining
- Perceived ease: a QR code was added to a 3 step process demonstrating how simple sign up is. Visual demonstration was included on the table topper/poster and, once scanned, took individuals directly to website
- Salience: Table toppers/posters were placed in restaurants where food choices are salient/top of mind at the time of ordering
- Just-in-time reminder: Table topper served as reminders to individuals that they should make the meatless choice just before placing their food order
- Peer-based incentive: a campaign prize employed the messenger effect, as participants had to encourage their friends to sign up and use name as a reference. The use of peer networks worked to destabilise norms around meat consumption and increase sign-ups
- Trustworthy/social norm: Public testimonials of participants pledging to go meatless were shared on Facebook/Instagram. Serving as social proof to potential participants that they too should consider signing up
As needed, please explain the type of intervention in more detail
- Framing of communication- Information supplied through social media channels on the impacts of the meat and animal product industries on the environment and society. Information supplied used a combination of shock through big stats and positive framing around benefits of a plant-based diet
- Contributing to positive change/doing good- campaign was framed as a water savings campaign, communication was framed around being part of collective impact/contributing to something much larger
Social incentives (supported emotional appeals):
- Peer-effect- use of competitions and creation of challenge tribes
- Trustworthy & social norms- use of public testimonials on social media channels and information of well recognized public figures that have gone meatless
Choice architecture: (supports social incentives):
- Design of different challenge categories- made the campaign more inclusive and accessible to a larger audience
Describe your implementation
The success of the campaign requires individuals to challenge themselves to reducing their meat consumption for the full month, this requires commitment. The following tactics were employed to increase adherence (commitment):
- Public commitment – In order to instill commitment to their pledge, participants were given the option to load their name and surname onto the sign up lists that were then made publicly available on the website. By making their commitment public, the individual risks embarrassment should they fail to see their commitment through, which increases the likelihood of their adherence.
- Visualisation of process – An API that visualises how much water participants collectively saved by means of reducing their meat consumption was created. The visualisation of collective progress serves to motivate participants to continue their behaviour and adhere to their commitment.
- Email series – To further instill commitment, the participants who signed up for Meatless May were sent weekly emails that employed the tactics below to increase adherence:
• Make it easy – Participants were sent emails containing meat-free recipes that aim to increase the perceived ease of making unfamiliar meals.
• Tailored content – Furthermore, the recipes were tailored to each participation category (meat-free Monday to Thursday, meat free all week, or vegan). This increases the salience and relevance of the information and means that participants are more likely to engage with the content.
• Reminder – Finally, the email served as a constant reminder that the participant has made the pledge to go meatless for May. This email is likely to keep the commitment top of mind and so ensure that participants adhere to the necessary behaviour.
Campaign & support partners: These partners helped us reach a greater number of networks and gave advice on the communication of the campaign and its strategic positioning.
- Gravity Ideas (campaign partne)- helped design behavioural change strategies around adoption and commitment.
- Greenpop (support partner)- helped with content & communication
- Green Mondays (support partner)- helped with content & communication
- CEVA (campaign & funding partner)- provided funding to build & implement the campaign
- Beyond Carnism (support partner)- helped with content & communication
- Rewild (support partner)- helped with content & communication
- Proveg International (support partner)- helped with content & communication
Restaurant & retail support partners: These helped us push participants to environmentally friendlier food and product options. This helps increase demand for such markets.
- The Hungry Herbivore
- Lekker Vegan
- Strangers Club
- Scheckters raw
- Obz Cafe
- Cafe Ganesh
- Honest Chocolate
- A Touch of Madness
- Royale Eatery
- Floursh bistro
- Nude Foods
- Vegan Goods Market
- Happy Earth People
- Drifter Brewing company
Who adopted the desired behaviors and to what degree?
We had 2 core objectives that we sought to achieve in this intervention.The 1st was to drive traffic to our website and increase the number of sign-ups for the Meatless May campaign.The 2nd was to instill commitment to the pledge. Although the campaign was aimed at South Africans, specifically Capetonians, website traffic has come from a large global audience with 2642 unique users between dates 15Apr-30May. There were users from 65 different countries, top 10:
1. South Africa 72.6%
2. Switzerland 6.2%
3. United Kingdom 6%
4. United States 5.4%
5. Germany 1.5%
6. Australia 1.1%
7. Canada 1%
8. Peru 1%
9. Netherlands 0.5%
10. New Zealand 0.3%
For these page visits we have managed to get 801 sing-ups as on 30 May – this is 30.1% of total unique page visitors. According to a recent study, it takes 28 days for an individual to form a habit. Meatless May runs for 30 days, the hypothesis is that meat reduction behaviours should become habits and be sustained in the future.
How did you impact natural resource use and greenhouse gas emissions?
MeatLessMay focused on the impact of meat industries on water and the savings made by going meatless in May. We calculated waters saving for each participant joining the campaign. We have used the numbers for litres per calorie of various products produced by research. These numbers are then translated in to a total average required by an individual per day for a range of diets (all meat, no beef, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan). The associated water footprints are then comparable across diets. The sign-up process asks how you would classify your current diet, we are then able to compare the average water footprint of your current diet to one of the 3 challenge options of the campaign. Water savings made by all campaign participants are calculated for each day and then summed to get the total estimated water savings during the campaign. For late sign-ups a time stamp is attached to ensure we calculate water saving for the correct period. The campaign saved 22 166 760 litres.
What were some of the resulting co-benefits?
- Economic/sustainable development: Supporting local organisations, restaurants and retail stores that are contributing to sustainability and environmental friendly products and practices.
- Economic/sustainable development: Increasing demand for environmentally friendlier foods and products.
- Biodiversity and conservation: By focusing on water, we are also able to increase awareness of environmental issues relating to meat foods and products and potentially other value chains.
- Nutrition: plant-based diets are associated with numerous health benefits.
- Economic/sustainable development: increased demand for plant-based diets can lead to the development and support of local organic farmers in under-resourced communities – supporting micro-economies and food systems.
Our solution was implemented on a much smaller scale in 2015, 2016 and 2017 with no funding. This year was the first year we obtained funding which enabled us to build a webpage for the campaign, run effective social media and marketing communication, develop campaign and support partnerships. Currently the campaign relies on grant funding. As the campaign grows there are various avenues for the campaign to obtain market-based revenue.
Return on investment
We obtained R56000 (+-$5000) in grant funding. The development of the website (a sunk cost) cost approximately R10000, the remainder was used for implementation, project management and marketing and social media communication. The users acquired (sign-ups) works out to approximately R12.50 spend per sign-up. This spend per sign-up is likely to decrease as the number of sign-ups are expected to increase as more and more participants engage in these behaviours in public and other potential participants are prompted to ask questions and sign-up owing to social proof. Over time the campaign will get more bang for its buck.
How could we successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?
We have run this campaign in Cape Town for the last 3 years prior to this year. We have learnt so much which has been fed back into the design of the campaign, its communication strategies and implementation. These learnings have made the campaign 2018. As demonstrated above, due to the campaign effectively being run over social media and web-based platforms, there is already a global audience and participants in the campaign. Therefore the solution can be successfully replicated in other contexts globally. To scale the campaign and replicate it would require additional funding to improve the website and development of an app, develop international partnerships with key stakeholders in other nations and increased marketing spend.