The effect of masculine marketing on vegan diets

By Augustus Bambridge-Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

A masculine framing does not have an affect on men liking vegan dishes. Image Source: Daria Kulkova/Getty Images
A masculine framing does not have an affect on men liking vegan dishes. Image Source: Daria Kulkova/Getty Images

Related tags Veganism Marketing

One of the most pervasive cultural perceptions around food consumption in general is that eating meat is for men and that, conversely, veganism is feminine. A new study explores whether reframing vegan dishes through masculine marketing alters men’s conception, and consumption, of vegan food.

While German consumers are, in general, not heavily inclined towards vegan diets - in relation to the whole German population, only 1% of them following a vegan diet - within this group the gender imbalance is clear. Of Germany’s vegans, only 19% are men.

A new study examines the impact of changing marketing around vegan food to direct it towards men. The study, which cites a wide range of previous papers clearly connecting ideas of masculinity with meat-eating and femininity with veganism, sets out to present a method by which veganism can be reframed through a masculine lens.

A gendered marketing campaign

Previous studies have shown, with products such as beer and jeans, that changing marketing to direct a product towards either men or women often does affect the appeal of the product to those respective genders. The affect on women was much smaller than for men however, which suggested to the present study’s authors that men suffer more socially for deviating from their prescribed gender role than women.

Thus, the study predicted that while marketing vegan products in a ‘masculine’ way would make men more accepting of vegan products, it would not have as significant affect on women who are less concerned about consuming masculine products as men are about consuming feminine ones.

Finally, the study predicts those men who are influenced by ‘new forms of masculinity’, such as emotional expressiveness, authenticity, and holistic self-awareness, will be less heavily influenced by the marketing campaign than others.

What appeals to masculinity

Surveying 382 omnivore participants, the study randomly gave them descriptions of various dishes, described either in a masculine way or a non-masculine way. Some of the dishes were thought to have more masculine or feminine connotation already.

Participants answered five questions about how much they’d like to eat each dish, and were asked if they believed each dish was more likely meant for men or women. They were asked to rate their view of different facets of veganism using word pairs such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. They were asked several questions to ascertain how much they conformed to ‘new masculinity’. At the end of the study, they checked to see whether participants perceived the adjectives they had been using as feminine or masculine.

For the vegan dishes that were framed as more suitable for men, this framing changed the perception of the dishes slightly, still being seen as more suitable for women but very slightly less so. This shows that masculine framing can have a small affect on preferences for certain dishes.

However, masculine framing did not cause men to express a greater desire to eat the vegan dishes, and did not improve men’s overall attitude towards veganism.

On the other hand, the analysis of word choices showed the ‘masculine’ words used in the masculine framing were only slightly related to masculinity by participants.

The study also showed that contrary to the predictions of the researchers, the masculine framing actually had a positive affect on those who prescribed to ‘new masculinity,’ which they had predicted would make a positive attitude towards veganism less, rather than more likely. Furthermore, the more men identified with the precepts of ‘new masculinity’, the more their attitude towards veganism was positive.

Sourced From: Frontiers in Communication

'Masculinity and veganism: the effect of linking vegan dishes with masculinity on men's attitudes toward vegan food’
Published on: 5 October 2023
Authors: A. E. Scholz, J. Lenhart.

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