Consumption of cow’s milk has been steadily declining in the US since the 70s, and an increase in sales of vegan milk alternatives has been seen since 2011. The battle between plant-based milk and the dairy industry has been long-lived, but all signs point to the eventual phase-out of humans consuming cow’s milk.
How do plant based milk brands successfully grab people’s attention, show them the benefits of making the switch, and keep them coming back for more?
Marketing and advertising are huge components of the success of the alternative milk industry, helping plant based milk alternatives disrupt dairy for good. Here are some of the top marketing campaigns of animal rights organizations and plant based milk companies that have sent waves through the world and struck fear into the hearts of the dairy industry!
Current state of the plant based milk industry
One of the reasons why plant-based milk alternatives successfully disrupt the dairy industry’s sales is due to the well-thought-out campaigns that vegan companies and animal rights organizations construct.
Some of the most attention-grabbing campaigns focus on the health benefits of switching to vegan milk, and others create a shock factor that shows the truth behind dairy and confront people where they least expect it.
This exposure of truth has led to ever increased growth and opportunity for vegan companies to bring more and more vegan dairy products to the market.
Why is the dairy industry fighting back?
The dairy industry is fighting hard against every new marketing campaign that they fear will be too effective. We see this in their efforts to enforce labeling laws that deem plant-based alternatives cannot be labeled as 'milk'.
Campaigns like Februdairy are an attempt at convincing the public that what happens to cows is normal and humane.
Sales of cow’s milk have plummeted, with some of the leading farmers and manufacturers such as Dean Foods filing for bankruptcy. Exposing the truth harms their reputation and consumer desires for cow's milk.
Exposing the truth behind the dairy industry inevitably leads to consumers not wanting to contribute to such cruelty anymore - especially when the plant-based alternatives are abundant. The vast variety of vegan options in every category and endless improvements in their formulation has disproven the dairy industry’s claim that their quality can’t compare to traditional cow’s milk.
Top marketing campaigns from plant based milk brands
Here are some of our favorite campaigns that left an impact on people’s minds - and got the dairy industry talking.
#1 - It’s Like Milk But Made For Humans
Oatly’s campaigns take influence from graffiti and propaganda-style ads. The company posts ads in unusual places and uses messaging that grabs people’s attention and sticks in their minds.
One of Oatly's first campaigns drew attention to the (obvious) fact that humans . The ads take a more playful approach while retaining truth in the message so that the dairy industry can’t penalize the verbiage.
This campaign shows that you can take a more lighthearted approach to activism, and different types of messaging affect everyone differently.
#2 - Humane Milk Is a Myth
This campaign executed by Go Vegan World is an important one. With a focus on exposing the inhumanity of the dairy industry and animal rights, a complaint was lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority in an attempt to stop it.
As the ruling from the ASA stated, the campaign says nothing untrue, as it accurately depicts exactly what happens on every farm, regardless of whether they claim they are 'high welfare', or not.
Hard-hitting campaigns on the subject of animal treatment like this one are important for exposing what actually happens in the dairy industry to the public, and that’s why they fought it at the legal level.
#3 - De-calf Your Coffee
The clever play on words of PETA’s De-calf Your Coffee campaign brings attention to the baby cows who are often overlooked when people think about milk production and the dairy industry. The slogan was printed on coffee cup sleeves and distributed to coffee shops in dairy-heavy states in the US.
For anyone who hasn’t yet considered that a cow has to be pregnant to make milk, this catchy slogan will bring it to their attention. This campaign was launched just before June, which is National Dairy Month, yet another attempt by the dairy industry to encourage people to support the use of cows for milk consumption.
#4 - Switch 4 Good
For anyone who thinks you can’t be vegan as an athlete, this campaign by Switch 4 Good puts that myth to rest. Featuring testimonials from Olympians who participate in many different types of sports, the video ad gets across how not only is being an active vegan possible, but their athletic performance benefitted greatly from the switch.
A huge bonus point to this campaign, we think, is that the athletes don’t just refer to it as milk, but they clearly discuss it as 'cow's milk' which is a powerful distinction to point out. It’s important to clarify that cow’s milk is not the default choice, just because it’s traditionally been the main one consumed by society, and that there are actually many different milk options to choose from.
#5 - Milk is Deadly
Another campaign that the dairy industry fought to have removed was the Milk Is Deadly advertisements which ran in Belgium.
Dairy awareness nonprofit, Be Vegan, ran this campaign for just two days before dairy proponents pressured the transportation company where the advertisements were posted, to take them down.
The ad drew attention to the calves that are killed by the Belgian dairy industry every year. While the General Farmers Syndicate claimed that this was misleading, the ad simply stated what factually happens to dairy calves.
Using marketing for good with vegan campaigns
Grocery stores have stocked vegan dairy product sections equally as large as the animal-based dairy section. New plant-based milk companies are popping up everywhere.
A reason why the vegan milk market is doing well is not only due to the large variety of high-quality options available, but people are also being shown the truth via informative and memorable marketing campaigns. The ethical, environmental, and inherently embedded with cow’s milk consumption have come to light.
Dairy Milk Vs. Plant Milk
Traditional cow's milk still dominates the supermarket aisles, but plant milks are rapidly becoming more popular. While the vegan and animal rights movement is to thank for this, there have been other factors that have helped everyday people switch to plant milk.
Animal Welfare Going Viral
The vegan movement has done a tremendous job in exposing people to the uncomfortable truths behind the dairy industry. As a result, many people are now starting to realize how terrible the production of dairy milk is for the cows that provide it.
The famous viral video "Dairy is Scary" helped expose the practices of the dairy industry to millions all around the world. In the video, it presented uncomfortable footage from the US and other western dairy farms. Many of the mutilation practices witnessed in the video are standard practices on dairy farms.
This video, plus the hard work of animal activists all around the world, is helping to shed light on the horrors behind the dairy industry. Slowly, people all around the world are learning about the real cost of their glass of milk.
To add to this awareness, some people have also been calling attention to the similarity between the treatment of dairy cows and women's rights issues. After all, dairy cows are forcibly impregnated, held captive, have their babies taken away from them, and forced to give milk. This cycle is repeated two or three times during their short lives before being slaughtered. This isn’t just the exploitation of cows, but the exploitation of female mother cows.
The disturbing realization of how farms treat cows has significantly helped to boost the sales of best vegan milks worldwide. If we can buy plant milks that are tasty, friendly to the environment and don't involve the exploitation of animals, why would anyone not choose a plant milk over dairy milk?
Research suggests that people are willing to pay almost as twice as much for plant milks than dairy milks.
New stories about climate change continue to dominate headlines around the globe. As a result, a new type of "eco-consumer" is being born. Now, many people want to buy products that are less damaging to our environment in a bid to reduce their personal impact on the planet.
Studies have shown that dairy milk requires nine times more land to make just one litre compared to oat, soy, and rice milk. This is not to say that plant milks are perfect, but they are considerably less damaging than dairy.
If we compare C02 emissions, again we find that dairy is far less friendly to the environment. Just one litre of dairy milk is responsible for 1.467kg of C02. This is vastly more than soy at 397g of C02 per litre and almond at 396g of C02 per litre.
The environmental issues surrounding dairy milk are being increasingly reported in the mainstream media. This has influenced millions of people all over the world to ditch dairy and switch to more eco-friendly plant milks.
As well as the environmental issues surrounding dairy, the health issues of drinking dairy have also become more well known by the public. Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of saturated fat for many countries around the world.
With our ever-growing rates of obesity in both children and adults, dairy has come under heavy scrutiny over the last few years. Studies consistently link high levels of saturated fat to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
Dairy was always considered as a vital source of calcium to help boost bone health and strength. However, recent analysis suggests that dairy actually has little to no benefit for bone health. In a study of 96,000 people, it was found that the more dairy milk a man consumed as a teenager, the more likely he was to experience bone fractures as an adult.
By comparison, some of the best vegan milks can be a very healthy addition to a person's diet. Almond milk is low in calories, naturally lactose-free, and usually fortified with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.
Soy milk is an excellent source of potassium. It is typically fortified with vitamins A, B-12, and D, as well as calcium. Soy milk also contains the same amount of protein as dairy milk but is lower in calories.
Rice milk is naturally sweeter than other plant milks. It is typically fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D. It is also the least allergenic of all the plant milks.
All plant milks available contain less sugar than dairy milk. Almond, pea, and flaxseed milk all contain more calcium than dairy milk.
Choosing a plant milk over dairy is not only the healthier choice, but it can help to reduce your risk of some serious health-related issues in the future.
Did you know that powerful marketing messages like these can be used for good? Just like public outreach and educational activism, marketing - both online and offline - is a form of activism that gets the vegan message in front of those who aren’t yet aware.
Did you start a vegan business? Do you have a campaign or message and you need help spreading the word? Are you an activist in need of support so you can keep doing your important work? If you have a website, find out more about how to get your vegan messages, products, and services in front of the people who are looking for them, with advice from the vegan marketing team at Ardor SEO.
Which vegan milk tastes most like milk?
The truth is, none. Plant milks are not an alternative to dairy, they are their own individual product with their own unique and delicious tastes. Most vegans suggest soy milk is the closest you will get to the taste of cow's milk.
Which dairy-free milk is best?
This is very dependent on your personal preference. However, the most popular plant milks are soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk.
Which plant-based milk is healthiest?
Soya and almond milk are the lowest in sugar. Soya, almond, and oat are the lowest in fat. Soya milk is the best for protein and oat milk is the best for fibre.
What plant-based milk tastes the most like milk?
Most people report that soy is the most like regular cow's milk. But, each plant milk has its own great unique taste.