Social Marketing Perspectives on Barriers to and Enablers of Effective Sustainability Communication
Keywords:sustainability, behaviour adaptation, behaviour change
Purpose of the paper: The purpose of this paper is to discuss the challenges facing those communicating the potential impact of sustainability on individuals and social groups, using widely accepted behaviour change theories to illustrate major factors that influence behaviour change decisions and supplement this with a review of literature that discusses other factors that should also be considered in developing communication strategies.
Methodology: This is a conceptual paper that uses social marketing principles to highlight the challenges involved in the effective communication of sustainability and related issues.
Findings: We highlight the complexity of factors impacting on individuals’ attitudes, beliefs and actual behaviour adaptation and suggest that current communication strategies could be significantly improved through greater understanding of adaptation decisions and the key barriers to, and enablers, of sustained positive behaviour change. We highlight current deficiencies relating to both individual and community behaviour change and develop a research agenda that may assist in addressing current gaps in knowledge. We then discuss several major issues in relation to community-based sustainability issues. The paper concludes with recommendations for transdisciplinary research to focus on improvements to message clarity and communication as well as on an understanding of the way messages are accessed and synthesised.
Limitations: This is a conceptual paper: cross-cultural and trans-disciplinary research is needed to determine how the discussed factors vary across contexts.
Implications: An increased understanding of the factors influencing effective communication will benefit policy makers and those involved in the communication of sustainability-related issues.
Originality of the paper: The value of this paper is that it takes a trans-disciplinary approach to issues normally discussed only within individual disciplinary areas.
ADGER W.N., BARNETT J., CHAPIN F.S., ELLEMORE H. (2011), “This Must Be the Place: Underrepresentation of Identity and Meaning in Climate Change Decision-Making”, Global Environmental Politics, vol. 11, n. 2, pp. 1-25.
ADHIKARI K.P., GOLDEY P. (2010), “Social capital and its “downside”: the impact on sustainability of induced community-based organizations in Nepal”, World Development, vol. 38, n. 2, pp. 184-194.
ADKINS N.R., OZANNE J.L. (2005), “The Low Literate Consumer”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 32, n. 1, pp. 93-105.
AITKEN C., CHAPMAN R., MCCLURE J. (2011), “Climate change, powerlessness and the commons dilemma: Assessing New Zealanders’ preparedness to act”, Global Environmental Change, vol. 21, n. 2, pp. 752-760.
AJZEN I. (1991), “The theory of planned behaviour”, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, vol. 50 n. 4, pp. 179-211.
AJZEN I., FISHBEIN M. (1980), Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
ARMITAGE D.R., PLUMMER R., BERKES F., ARTHUR R.I., CHARLES A.T., DAVIDSON-HUNT I.J., DIDUCK A.P., DOUBLEDAY N.C., JOHNSON D.S., MARSCHKE M., MCCONNEY P., PINKERTON E.W., WOLLENBERG E.K. (2009), “Adaptive co-management for social-ecological complexity”, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 7, n. 2, pp. 95-102.
AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS. (2006), Adult Literacy and Life Skill Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.
BALSIGER P.W. (2004), “Supradisciplinary research practices: history, objectives and rationale”, Futures , vol. 36, n. 4, pp. 407-421.
BARR S., GILG A., SHAW G. (2011a), 2Citizens, consumers and sustainability: (Re),Framing environmental practice in an age of climate change”, Global Environmental Change, vol. 21, n. 41, pp. 1224-1233.
BARR S., SHAW G., COLES T. (2011b), “Times for (Un), sustainability? Challenges and opportunities for developing behaviour change policy. A case-study of consumers at home and away!”, Global Environmental Change , vol. 21, n. 4, pp. 1234-1244.
BARRY T.E. (1987), “The Development of the Hierarchy of Effects: A Historical Perspective”, Current Issues and Research In Advertising, vol. 10, n. 2, pp. 251-295.
BARRY T.F., HOWARD D.J. (1990), “A Review and Critique of the Hierarchy of Effects in Advertising”, International Journal of Advertising, vol. 9, n. 2, pp. 121-135.
BERRANG-FORD L., FORD J.D., PATERSON J. (2011), “Are we adapting to climate change?”, Global Environmental Change, vol. 21, n. 1, pp. 25-33.
BERRY H.L., HOGAN A., OWEN J., RICKWOOD D., FRAGAR L. (2011), “Climate Change and Farmers’ Mental Health: Risks and Responses”, Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, vol. 23, n. 2 Suppl., pp. 119S-132S.
BLEAKLEY A., HENNESSY M. (2012), “The quantitative analysis of reasoned action theory”, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 640, pp. 28-41.
BOHNET I. (2008), “Assessing retrospective and prospective landscape change through the development of social profiles of landholders: A tool for improving land use planning and policy formulation”, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 88, n. 1, pp. 1-11.
BURTON I., HUQ S., LIM B., PILIFOSOVA O., SCHIPPER E.L. (2002), “From impacts assessment to adaptation priorities: the shaping of adaptation policy”, Climate Policy, vol. 2, n. 2, pp. 145-159.
CAMPBELL C., PITT L.F., PARENT M., BERTHON P. (2011), “Tracking Back-Talk in Consumer-Generated Advertising”, Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 51, n. 1, pp. 224-238.
CAPPELLA J.N. (2006), “Integrating Message Effects and Behavior Change Theories: Organizing Comments and Unanswered Questions”, Journal of Communication, vol. 56, n. Supp, pp. S265-S279.
CARRIGAN M., MORAES C., LEEK S. (2011), “Fostering responsible communities: A community social marketing approach to sustainable living”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 100, n. 3, pp. 515-534.
CIALDINI R. (2007), “Descriptive Social Norms as Underappreciated Sources of Social Control”, Psychometrika, vol. 72, n. 2, pp. 263-268.
COLLEY R.H. (1962), “Squeezing the Waste out of Advertising”, Harvard Business Review, July - August, pp. 76-88.
CORNER A., RANDALL A. (2011), “Selling climate change? The limitations of social marketing as a strategy for climate change public engagement”, Global Environmental Change, vol. 21, n. 3, pp. 1005-1014.
DALE A., NEWMAN L. (2010), “Social capital: a necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable community development?”, Community Development Journal, vol. 45, n. 1, pp. 5-21.
DONOVAN R.J., JALLEH G. (1999), “Positively versus Negatively Framed Product Attributes: The Influence of Involvement”, Psychology and Marketing, vol. 16, n. 7, pp. 613-630.
EMTAGE N., HERBOHN J. (2012), “Implications of landholders’ management goals, use of information and trust of others for the adoption of recommended practices in the Wet Tropics region of Australia”, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 107, n. 4, pp. 351-360.
ERIKSEN S., ALDUNCE P., BAHINIPATI C.S., MARTINS R.D.A., MOLEFE J.I., NHEMACHENA C., O’BRIEN K., OLORUNFEMI F., PARK J., SYGNA L. (2011), “When not every response to climate change is a good one: Identifying principles for sustainable adaptation”, Climate and Development, vol. 3, n. 1, pp. 7-20.
EWING M. (2009), “Integrated marketing communications measurement and evaluation”, Journal of Marketing Communications, vol. 15, n. 2, pp. 103-117.
FABRICIUS C., FOLKE C., CUNDILL G., SCHULTZ L. (2007), “Powerless Spectators, Coping Actors, and Adaptive Co-Managers: A Synthesis of the Role of Communities in Ecosystem Management”, Ecology and Society 12, on line edition.
FINNE A., GRÖNROOS C. (2009), “Rethinking Marketing Communication: From Integrated Marketing Communication to Relationship Communication”, Journal of Marketing Communications, vol. 15, n. 2 /3, pp. 179-195.
FISHBEIN M. (2008), “A Reasoned Action Approach to Health Promotion”, Medical Decision Making, vol. 28, n. 6, pp. 834-844.
FISHBEIN M., CAPPELLA J. (2006), “The Role of Theory in Developing Effective Health Communications”, Journal of Communication, vol. 56, n. August Suppl, pp. S1-S17.
FISHBEIN M., YZER MC. (2003), “Using Theory to Design Effective Health Behavior Interventions”, Communication Theory, vol. 13, n. 2, pp. 164-183.
FOLKE C., HAHN T., OLSSON P., NORBERG J. (2005), “Adaptive Governance of Social-Ecological Systems”, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, vol. 30, n. 1, pp. 441-473.
FOSTER-FISHMAN PG., PIERCE SJ., VAN EGEREN LA. (2009), “Who participates and why: Building a process model of citizen participation”, Health Education and Behavior, vol. 36, n. 3, pp. 550-569.
FOUST CR., O’SHANNON MURPHY W. (2009), “Revealing and Reframing Apocalyptic Tragedy in Global Warming Discourse”, Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, vol. 3, n. 2, pp. 151-167.
FRANKE S. (2005), “Measurement of Social Capital Reference Document for Public Policy Research, Development, and Evaluation”, Policy Research Initiative, Government of Canada, Ottawa.
GOOCH M., RIGANO D. (2010), “Enhancing Community-scale Social Resilience: what is the connection between healthy communities and healthy waterways?”, Australian Geographer, vol. 41, n. 4, pp. 507-520.
HATFIELD-DODDS S., NELSON R., COOK D. (2007), “Adaptive Governance: An Introduction and Implications for Public Policy”, Paper provided by Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in its series 2007 Conference (51st),, February 13-16, 2007, number 10440, Queenstown, New Zealand.
HENNESSY M., BLEAKLEY A., FISHBEIN M., BROWN L., DICLEMENTE R., ROMER D., VALOIS R., VANABLE P., CAREY M., SALAZAR L. (2010), “Differentiating Between Precursor and Control Variables When Analyzing Reasoned Action Theories”, AIDS and Behavior, vol. 14, n. 1, pp. 225-236.
HOLMES J.H., LEHMAN A., HADE E., FERKETICH A.K., GEHLERT S., RAUSCHER G.H., ABRAMS J., BIRD C.E. (2008), “Challenges for Multilevel Health Disparities Research in a Transdisciplinary Environment”, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 35, n. 2 Supp 1, pp. S182-S192.
ISON R., RÖLING N., WATSON D. (2007), “Challenges to science and society in the sustainable management and use of water: investigating the role of social learning”, Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 10, n. 6, pp. 499-511.
IVEY J.L., SMITHERS J., DE LOË R.C., KREUTZWISER R.D. (2004), “Community Capacity for Adaptation to Climate-Induced Water Shortages: Linking Institutional Complexity and Local Actors”, Environmental Management, vol. 33, n. 1, pp. 36-47.
JONES J.P. (1990), “Advertising: Strong Force or Weak Force? Two Views an Ocean Apart”, International Journal of Advertising, vol. 9, n. 3, pp. 233-246.
KOLLMUSS A., AGYEMAN J. (2002), “Mind the Gap: Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior?”, Environmental Education Research, vol. 8, n. 3, pp. 239-260.
KOTLER P., ZALTMAN G. (1971), “Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change”, Journal of Marketing, vol. 35, n. 3, pp. 3-12.
LAUKKONEN J., BLANCO P.K., LENHART J., KEINER M., CAVRIC B., KINUTHIA-NJENGA C. (2009), “Combining climate change adaptation and mitigation measures at the local level”, Habitat International, vol. 33, n. 3, pp. 287-292.
LORENZONI I., NICHOLSON-COLE S., WHITMARSH L. (2007), “Barriers perceived to engaging with climate change among the UK public and their policy implications”, Global Environmental Change, vol. 17, n. 3, pp. 445-459.
MÂSSE L.C., MOSER R.P., STOKOLS D., TAYLOR B.K., MARCUS S.E., MORGAN G.D., HALL K.L., CROYLE R.T., TROCHIM W.M. (2008), “Measuring Collaboration and Transdisciplinary Integration in Team Science”, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 35, n. 2, Supp 1, pp. S151-S160.
MAZAR N., ZHONG C.B. (2010), “Do Green Products Make Us Better People?”, Psychological Science, vol. 21, n. 4, pp. 494-498.
MCKENZIE-MOHR D. (2000), “Fostering Sustainable Behavior Through Community-Based Social Marketing”, American Psychologist, vol. 55, n. 5, pp. 531-537.
MILLER J.D. (2004), “Public Understanding of, and Attitudes toward, Scientific Research: What We Know and What We Need to Know”, Public Understanding of Science, vol. 13, n. 3, pp. 273-294.
MOLONEY S., HORNE R.E., FIEN J. (2010), “Transitioning to low carbon communities-from behaviour change to systemic change: Lessons from Australia”, Energy Policy, vol. 38, n. 12, pp. 7614-7623.
MORTON T.A., BRETSCHNEIDER P., COLEY D., KERSHAW T. (2011), “Building a better future: An exploration of beliefs about climate change and perceived need for adaptation within the building industry”, Building and Environment , vol. 46, n. 5, pp. 1151-1158.
MOSER S.C. (2010), “Communicating climate change: history, challenges, process and future directions”, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, n. 1, pp. 31-53.
MYERS S., BLACKMORE M., SMITH T., CARTER, R.W. (2012), “Climate change and stewardship: strategies to build community resilience in the Capricorn Coast”, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 19, n. 3, pp. 164-181.
NATIONAL SOCIAL MARKETING CENTRE. (2006), It’s Our Health! Realising the Potential of Effective Social Marketing, National Social Marketing Centre, London, pp. 1-237.
NUTBEAM D. (2008), “The evolving concept of health literacy”, Social Science and Medicine, vol. 67, n. 12, pp. 2072-2078.
O’NEILL S.J., HULME M. (2009), “An iconic approach for representing climate change”, Global Environmental Change, vol. 19, n. 4, pp. 402-410.
OCKWELL D., WHITMARSH L., O’NEILL S. (2009), “Reorienting Climate Change Communication for Effective Mitigation”, Science Communication, vol. 30, n. 3, pp. 305-327.
ONYX J., EDWARDS M., BULLEN P. (2007), “The intersection of social capital and power: An application to rural communities”, Rural Society, vol. 17, n. 13, pp. 215-230.
OWENS S., DRIFFILL L. (2008), “How to change attitudes and behaviours in the context of energy”, Energy Policy, vol. 36 n. 12, pp. 4412-4418.
PATULNY R.V., SVENDSEN G.L.H. (2007), “Exploring the social capital grid: bonding, bridging, qualitative, quantitative”, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 27, n. 1/2, pp. 32-51.
PEATTIE K., PEATTIE S. (2003), “Ready to Fly Solo? Reducing Social Marketing’s Dependence on Commercial Marketing Theory”, Marketing Theory, vol. 3, n. 3, pp. 365-385.
PEATTIE K., PEATTIE S. (2009), “Social Marketing: A pathway to consumption reduction?”, Journal of Business Research, vol. 62, n. 2, pp. 260-268.
PICKETTS I.M., CURRY J., RAPAPORT E. (2012), “Community Adaptation to Climate Change: Environmental Planners’ Knowledge and Experiences in British Columbia”, Canada, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, vol. 14, n. 2, pp. 1-19.
PREMKUMAR G., BHATTACHERJEE A. (2008), “Explaining information technology usage: A test of competing models”, Omega, vol. 36, n. 1, pp. 64-75.
RAMADIER T. (2004), “Transdisciplinarity and its challenges: the case of urban studies”, Futures, vol. 36, n. 4, pp. 423-439.
REED M.S., FRASER E.D.G., DOUGILL A.J. (2006), “An adaptive learning process for developing and applying sustainability indicators with local communities”, Ecological Economics, vol. 59, n. 4, pp. 406-418.
ROTHSCHILD M.L. (1999), “Carrots, Sticks, and Promises: A Conceptual Framework for the Management of Public Health and Social Issue Behaviors”, Journal of Marketing, vol. 63, n. 4, pp. 24-37.
SABATINI F. (2009), “Social capital as social networks: A new framework for measurement and an empirical analysis of its determinants and consequences”, Journal of Socio-Economics, vol. 38, n. 3, pp. 429-442.
SCHNEIDER T.R. (2006), “Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Health Education Buck. Message Framing and Reducing Health Disparities”, American Behavioural Scientist, vol. 49, n. 6, pp. 812-822.
SEMENZA J.C., HALL D.E., WILSON D.J., BONTEMPO B.D., SAILOR D.J., GEORGE L.A. (2008), “Public Perception of Climate Change: Voluntary Mitigation and Barriers to Behavior Change”, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 35, n. 5, pp. 479-487.
SHEAVLY S., REGISTER K. (2007), “Marine Debris & Plastics: Environmental concerns, sources, impacts and solutions”, Journal of Polymers and the Environment, vol. 15, n. 4, pp. 301-305.
SMITH-MCLALLEN A., FISHBEIN M. (2008), “Predictors of intentions to perform six cancer-related behaviours: roles for injunctive and descriptive norms”, Psychology, Health and Medicine, vol. 13, n. 4, pp. 389-401.
SMITH B. (2008), “Perspectives on Behavior Change”, Social Marketing Quarterly, vol. 14, n. 3, pp. 148-151.
SPENCE A., POORTINGA W., BUTLER C., PIDGEON, N.F. (2011), “Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experience”, Nature Clim. Change, vol. 1, n. 1, pp. 46-49.
TALBOT L., WALKER R. (2007), “Community perspectives on the impact of policy change on linking social capital in a rural community”, Health and Place, vol. 13, n. 2, pp. 482-492.
TAYLOR A., LARSON S., STOECKL N., CARSON D. (2011), “The haves and have nots in Australia’s Tropical North - New Perspectives on a Persisting Problem”, Geographical Research, vol. 49, n. 1, pp. 13-22.
THELWALL M. (2009), “Introduction to Webometrics: Quantitative Web Research for the Social Sciences”, Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval and Services, pp. 1 -115.
THØGERSEN J., CROMPTON T. (2009), “Simple and painless? The limitations of spillover in environmental campaigning”, Journal of Consumer Policy, vol. 32, n. 2, pp. 141-163.
TONN B., HEMRICK A., CONRAD F. (2006), “Cognitive representations of the future: Survey results”, Futures, vol. 38, n. 7, pp. 810-829.
URWIN K., JORDAN A. (2008), “Does public policy support or undermine climate change adaptation? Exploring policy interplay across different scales of governance”, Global Environmental Change, vol. 18, n. 1, pp. 180-191.
VAN DER GAAG M., SNIJDERS T.A.B. (2005), “The Resource Generator: social capital quantification with concrete items”, Social Networks, vol. 27, n. 1, pp. 1-29.
VASI I.B. (2007), “Thinking Globally, Planning Nationally and Acting Locally: Nested Organizational Fields and the Adoption of Environmental Practices”, Social Forces, vol. 86, n. 1, pp. 113-136.
WALLENDORF M. (2001), “Literally Literacy”, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 27, n. 4, pp. 505-511.
WIEBE G.D. (1951-52), “Merchandising Commodities and Citizenship in Television”, Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 15, n. 4, pp. 679-691.
WOLBURG J.M. (2006), “College Students’ Responses to Antismoking Messages: Denial, Defiance, and Other Boomerang Effects”, Journal of Consumer Affairs, vol. 40, n. 2, pp. 294-323.
WOODHOUSE A. (2006), “Social capital and economic development in regional Australia: A case study”, Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 22 n. 1, pp. 83-94.