When a story in the news calls into question human treatment of animals, it often evokes wide-ranging and strong emotional responses. In part, this is due to a progressive belief about the humanlike capacities in animals. And perhaps because of the increased association between animals and human values, animals are increasingly being seen as powerful ambassadors for businesses – with an added bonus being that today’s companies are always on the lookout for ways to be more innovative in their operations to stand out in a crowded market.
For one thing, animals are recognized as a means to improve both customer and employee experience. For example, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is employing “canine ambassadors” in its luxury hotels in Canada, and also offers special amenities to its canine and feline guests, including water and food bowls, treats, toys and pet sitters. Many companies are allowing animals into the workplace as a means of reducing stress and increasing employee satisfaction.
People are also increasingly concerned about animal welfare when it comes to deciding with whom to do business. A recent survey of 1,500 UK consumers found that 74% say meat coming from animals that are well looked after is among the top issues they consider when deciding whether a food company is ethical. And more business are declaring themselves to be cruelty-free, in part to engage with consumer values. Examples include UK-based personal care products company Burt’s Bees, Belgium-based household cleaning products producer Ecover and Netherlands-based pet food manufacturer Yarrah Organic Petfood.