Human behavior underlies a number of problems, including a number of those related to the environment. From isolated issues such as littering and low rates of recycling to large scale problems involving energy consumption and resource depletion, it is human behavior that must be changed in order to bring about positive change. One of the tools utilized to influence behavior and encourage more responsible behavior is social marketing.
Broadly defined, social marketing is the practice of applying traditional, commercial marketing techniques with the goal of influencing the behavior of the target audience. Most commonly, the intent is to achieve a positive social impact. The poster illustrated is an example of a social marketing campaign.
The term social marketing has some negative connotations. Social marketing is sometimes associated with the concept of “social engineering” or manipulation of choice and activities. Social marketing campaigns may be characterized as propaganda, and social marketing can be utilized to promote any number of behaviors, not just environmentally friendly ones. However, whether used for good or evil, social marketing has proven successful and the lessons from these successes may be worth considering.
This report provides an introduction to the concept and practices of social marketing and the tools of community based social marketing. To date, there has been scant use of social marketing for the purpose of influencing forestry related behaviors, although potential benefits from broader use of this approach are now recognized. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for successfully applying social marketing techniques to forestry may be related to engaging family forest owners in behaviors that support improved forest management. Given that there are a variety of human behaviors impacting the success of sustainable forestry initiatives, social marketing may be an important tool for influencing these behaviors to achieve positive change.