Application of social-marketing strategy in environmental conservation campaign by arabukosokoke schools and eco-tourism scheme
Social marketing is a valuable tool of behavior change. The current study sought to establish the social marketing strategies that have been applied by ASSETS, a community-based organization situated in Malindi, Kenya, in its conservation efforts of the Arabuko-Sokoke forest and the Mida Creek. The study was based on behavioral and social marketing theories notably the Exchange theory, the Theory of Reasoned Action, the Social Cognitive Theory, and the Community Organization Theory. This case study took a descriptive survey research design, resting within a qualitative investigative paradigm. The population of this study was the stakeholders of the ASSETS including the eco-bursaries beneficiaries of the scheme and the management team of the scheme which includes the Forest and Creek administration and the relevant government agencies and some participating non-governmental organizations. The target respondents were the head administrators of all the organizations in the management team and of 9 participating NGOs; and 30 individual eco-bursary beneficiaries. This study utilized primary data which was gathered using semi-structured questionnaires. Descriptive statistics was applied on the closed-ended questions (quantitative data) as content analysis was used to analyze data from open questions (qualitative data). Study findings indicate that ASSETS adopted several social marketing strategies in its environmental conservation campaign notably the application of the exchange concept; consumer research; audience segmentation and targeting; application of marketing mix; creating partnerships with governmental and non-governmental entities; and project monitoring and evaluation. The study also concludes that the application of social marketing strategies by the ASSETS environmental conservation campaign has yielded good results for both the project and its beneficiaries. The communities living adjacent to the Arabuko-Sokoke forest and the Mida creek have been very passionate in the efforts to conserve the two habitats. A number of cases have been reported of people arrested by members of the local community for attempting to fell trees from the forest or cut down the mangroves from the creek. Tree nursery tendering is an ongoing voluntary activity by the local community meant to rehabilitate parts of the forests and creek that have been destroyed by fire or cut down by people for firewood, to be used as building materials or just to sell to meet their subsistence needs. On the side of the beneficiaries, the scheme has changed the lives of many young people, and, consequently those of their families. Needy students, who would otherwise have had to drop out of school for lack of school fees (a cumulative number of 350 to date), have benefited from the scheme since its inception in 2001. This number is set to grow with the support of new partners. For policy and practice, the study makes the following recommendations: Firstly, organizations engaging in social marketing should be driven by market needs and should involve their audiences in devising and implementing solutions. Secondly, to be successful social marketing depends on the ability to develop partnerships and communicating to the target market. Lastly, this study recommends that any social marketing program should put the target individual at the centre of all adopted strategies. For future studies on social marketing strategies, it is recommended that more studies on community-based social marketing be conducted as a strategy that is progressively being adopted in implementing social programs so as to entrench it in theory.
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