Main content area

Qualitative impact evaluation of a social marketing campaign for conservation

Salazar, Gabby, Mills, Morena, Veríssimo, Diogo
Conservation biology 2019 v.33 no.3 pp. 634-644
Amazona barbadensis, biodiversity, environmental education, human behavior, law enforcement, marketing, parrots, pets, schools, social marketing, stakeholders, threatened species, Bonaire
Social marketing campaigns use marketing techniques to influence human behavior for the greater social good. In the conservation sector, social marketing campaigns have been used to influence behavior for the benefit of biodiversity as well as society. However, there are few evaluations of their effectiveness. We devised an approach for evaluating the influences of social marketing campaigns on human behavior and conservation outcomes. We used general elimination methodology, a theory‐driven qualitative evaluation method, to assess the long‐term impacts of a 1998 Rare Pride campaign on the island of Bonaire that was designed to increase the population of the Lora (Amazona barbadensis), a threatened parrot. We interviewed stakeholder groups to determine their perceptions of the drivers of the changes in the Lora population over time. We used these data to develop an overall theory of change to explain changes in the Lora population by looking at the overlap in hypotheses within and between stakeholder groups. We then triangulated that theory of change with evidence from government reports, peer‐reviewed literature, and newspapers. The increase in the Lora population was largely attributed to a decrease in illegal poaching of Loras and an associated decrease in local demand for pet Loras. Decreases in poaching and demand were likely driven by a combination of law enforcement, social marketing (including the Rare campaign), and environmental education in schools. General elimination methodology helped show how multiple interventions influenced a conservation outcome over time. There is a need for evidence‐based evaluations of social marketing interventions to ensure that limited resources are spent wisely.