On SAGE Insight: To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife Products? Insights From Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn

From Social Marketing Quarterly

The illegal wildlife trade is a global threat to biodiversity as well as to public health and good governance. The trade in wildlife is a major global economic activity, an estimated total value in the many billions of EUR annually and arguably involving every nation on Earth. It is not surprising that this activity is vital to both local livelihoods and national economies, particularly in the developing world.

Social marketing campaigns aimed at reducing demand for flagship species threated by the illegal wildlife trade have been happening since the late 1980s, largely led by U.S.-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Rare. These campaigns were initially mostly focused on island-endemic birds threatened by the pet trade but eventually broadened in scope to include a variety of other issues, such as the illegal trade in bushmeat and illegal fishing, with encouraging evidence around impact.

This research uncovered 18 organizations, including both national and international bodies. The lead author contacted each organization by e-mail and phone calls. Snowball sampling was used to acquire contacts in as many relevant organizations as possible. Semi-structured interviews were used to prompt the interviewee to describe the campaign design approach taken with respect to a specific, identified demand reduction campaign. To assess the extent to which the design of demand reduction campaigns was using social marketing, this study assessed each of the campaigns against the eight social marketing benchmarks developed by the UK’s National Social Marketing Centre.

Cultural differences were highlighted by practitioners also in the context of framing campaigns as exchanges, with some campaigns emphasizing personal benefit while others focused on the national and collective benefits, a focus that may be most adequate in East Asia where societies are more collectivist. Several elements of social marketing are widely utilized and a platform exists from which to build more comprehensive behavioral influence campaigns in future. In terms of future needs, practitioners highlighted the need for independent consumer research upon which to build target audience insights, a focus on broader audience segments beyond the product consumers, and the improvement of collaborations across institutions.

Abstract

The illegal wildlife trade is a global threat to biodiversity as well as to public health and good governance. As legislation and law enforcement have been insufficient to protect many wildlife species, conservationists are increasingly focused on campaigns to help reduce demand for wildlife products. Social marketing is increasingly being used to support biodiversity conservation efforts, but the extent of its use has seldom been researched. Based on interviews with conservation practitioners, we assess the extent to which social marketing has been used in demand reduction campaign design. We do this by investigating the level to which demand reduction campaigns met the benchmarks defined by the UK’s National Social Marketing Centre. We focus on rhino horn and elephant ivory, two high-profile products in the illegal wildlife trade and in China and Vietnam given their role as key consumer countries. We also investigate how conservation practitioners view the opportunities and challenges of using social marketing in the context of reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife products. Our findings highlight that there are substantial gaps between best practice in social marketing and current practices in the design of demand reduction campaigns. However, several elements of social marketing are widely utilized and a platform exists from which to build more comprehensive behavioral influence campaigns in future. In terms of future needs, practitioners highlighted the need for independent consumer research upon which to build target audience insights, a focus on broader audience segments beyond the product consumers, and the improvement of collaborations across institutions.

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Article details
To What Extent Is Social Marketing Used in Demand Reduction Campaigns for Illegal Wildlife Products? Insights From Elephant Ivory
Steven Greenfield, Diogo Veríssimo
First Published November 20, 2018 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/1524500418813543
From Social Marketing Quarterly

 

 

 

     
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