Enabling behaviour change : community-based social marketing strategy in Malmö
Abstract: Our planet is faced with enormous challenges as the extreme weather events related to the human-caused climate change continue to gain strength. The scale of the problem has made changing human behaviour the central focus of sustainable development, and both public and private sector are expected to gain relevant expertise and introduce this work in their agenda. Over its 40-year history, social marketing has become an established field providing tools for social change, but compared to health promotion, sustainability has not been a major focus of social marketing research so far. At the same time, sustainable lifestyles are embedded in complex systems where both individual factors and those of physical and social environment play a defining role in their adoption. Communities are a good example of such environments, and they became the key focus of Community-Based Social Marketing, which combines different insights from psychology to suggest a step-by-step framework for crafting behaviour change campaigns. However, it has not been applied to larger and diverse communities, like cities, and has not focused on sustaining new behaviour over time, which is crucial for creating sustainable lifestyles. Therefore, there is a need for empirical insights about long-term social marketing campaigns that aim to promote sustainable behaviour on a whole-city scale. The aim of this project is with the help of multidisciplinary research and Social Practice Theory to explore the role of various enabling factors of pro-environmental behaviour change in a big community setting. The project includes a case study of the long-term campaign, which has been run in the municipality of Malmö to encourage city residents to sort their food waste. The research has flexible design and builds on literature review and multiple sources of empirical evidence – semi-structured phone and personal interviews and secondary data. Narrative analysis of the empirical data is conducted with the help of theories and conceptual framework. The results indicate that behaviour change campaigns in big communities employ a variety of enabling factors. Firstly, infrastructure, political support and choice editing can be of help to get community members started with a new behaviour, especially when there are many barriers to it and convenience is appreciated. Secondly, to increase engagement in the behaviour, information campaigns and marketing techniques can be used, since they have potential to provide education and skills, raise awareness and create attractive propositions and images. Finally, social relations and contextual factors should not be underestimated. People are constantly affected in their communities, and can similarly affect others by becoming ambassadors for the behaviour. Working with behaviour interventions in big and diverse communities is not an easy task. Compared to controlled experiments and short-term campaigns, it requires incessant application of a wide array of tools. The border between upstream and downstream social marketing approaches needs to be erased since they can effectively complement each other. The appreciation of the community complexity and of a great variety of intervention approaches can enrich social marketing work and produce campaigns that enable behaviour change to ensure sustainable future.
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