Trustworthy Marketing Mixes: A Study of Forestland Owners

[We’re pleased to welcome author Kelley Dennings of the American Forest Foundation, Washington, D.C.. Dennings recently published an article in Social Marketing Quarterly entitled, “Research Into Woodland Owners’ Use of Sustainable Forest Management to Inform Campaign Marketing Mix,” co-authored by Jennifer Tabanico. From Dennings:]

The article titled “Research Into Woodland Owner’s Use of Sustainable Forest Management To Inform Campaign Marketing Mix” came about through a partnership between the American Forest Foundation and Action Research. The American Forest Foundation (AFF) works on-the-ground with families, teachers, and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. When AFF embarqued on the creation of a social marketinsmqa_23_1.cover.pngg campaign they brought on Action Research to learn more about the barriers and benefits woodland owners encounter with sustainable forest management. Action Research specializes in changing human behavior through the application of traditional marketing activities blended with cutting edge research findings from the social and behavioral sciences including psychology, sociology, and economics.

This research is imperative as woodlands provide many environmental benefits such as clean air, clean water, recreational opportunities and wood products. However, keeping our forests healthy requires the support of private woodland owners that own the majority of America’s forests. The difficulty with this work is that harvesting trees without the advice of a forester can leave a landowner vulnerable. A forester ensures that the sustainable forest management actions meet the needs of the woodland owner as the forester makes recommendations depending on what the woodland owner wants to gain from their land.

What our findings showed is that trust is very important between a woodland owner and the forester. However, we found that advice from friends and family is highly trusted. Unfortunately this help may not always be the most accurate. This lack of trust is being addressed in the campaign’s marketing mix through peer networks and testimonials. Research into trust can help inform other campaigns outside of conservation and is very useful for those working in rural communities.

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Call for Papers: Social Marketing Quarterly

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Social Marketing Quarterly is now accepting manuscripts on the special issue topic: Social Marketing for Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change.

Please click on the picture above or here to view the additional guidelines for submitting.

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War, Exploration, and Interference: The Rise of Amateur Broadcasters

[The following post is re-blogged from Organizational Musings. Click here to view the original article. It is a commentary based on a recently published article in Administrative Science Quarterly entitled “Labor of Love: Amateurs and Lay-expertise Legitimation in the Early U.S. Radio Field,” co-authored by Grégoire Croidieu and Phillip H. Kim.  From Henrich Greve via Organizational Musings:] 

 

In daily life we know that professionals rule the roost. Anything remotely important is done by a profession with restricted access to practice and many rules for practitioners — or it is done illegitimately. Did you undergo medical treatment last time you were ill, or did you see a homeopath? Many activities that seem easier and safer also take on profession-like features. Espresso making is done by a high-pressure machine, but there is still a barista profession with formal training and certification. Researchers also have been interested in professions, especially because their effects range from regulating the safety and quality of important service (again, think doctors) to restricting access to work in a way that looks like a power grab (pick your favorite example).

So is there room for non-professionals to get things done? Gregoire Croidieu and Phillip Kim answer that question in a recent article in Administrative Science Quarterly, looking at the key role of amateurs in the development of radio broadcasting in the US. They show that amateurs can get a significant role if the right conditions are in place, even as professionals, companies, and the state seek to push them to the margins. How? Well, that’s where the war, polar exploration, and interference come in.

Let’s start with interference. Technically that is what happens when radio transmitters are near each other in signal spectrum and physical space, and distort each other’s transmissions. It was a major reason that many sought to limit access to the airwaves of amateurs, especially those building their own transmitters and behaving independently from the profession. Socially the limitation of access was also a form of interference – trying to make it hard to be an amateur. But radio amateurs were enthusiastically building up their lay expertise and using it, legally or not. Except for the WWI years, they could be given access as registered radio operators.

That brings us to the war. WWI was when radio amateurs were blocked from the airwaves, with security given as the reason, but it did not mean that they stopped broadcasting. They signed up for military service instead, and fully half of the military radio operators were originally amateurs. This was when the state recognized the value of the lay experts, and took advantage of their skills. After the war, they were supposed to return to their old status as marginal actors, more than before (rising to 20,000 in 1922), but still regulated and limited. Professional radio operators still campaigned against amateurs, seeing them as having little value.

This is where the polar explorations come into play. The amateurs were many, highly skilled, and willing to experiment, and they soon registered a series of technical accomplishments – including shortwave communications with the North Pole, which had been thought impossible. The amateurs, through their lay expertise, became leaders in radio. This role soon turned into the start of radio as an industry and as lay culture, because the establishment of radio stations for communicating to many – instead of point-to-point – happened in parallel. Radio ownership and interest in radio listening rose also, and the radio broadcasting industry eventually grew to as many radio stations as there were licensed radio operators in 1921.

War, exploration, and interference were three of the elements that brought amateurs to the forefront of radio, against the resistance of professionals, companies, and the state. Clearly it was not an easy process, and it took a lot of interest to gather the necessary momentum. Does this show that amateurs have a clear role in society, or that they can overcome the odds under special circumstances? We clearly need to learn more about this so we can understand when activities become professionalized, and when they are open to amateurs.

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How to turn a Cinderella product into a market queen

[The following post is re-blogged from the London School of Economics and Political Science Business Review. Click here to view the article from LSE. It is based on a paper recently published in Administrative Science Quarterly titled “How Cinderella Became a Queen: Theorizing Radical Status Change.“From LSE:]

The case of Italian grappa shows that more than marketing is needed to raise a product’s market status, write Giuseppe Delmestri and Royston Greenwood

Quality, we know, is often necessary, but it’s far from a sufficient condition for market status. Better technologies lose format wars — as Betamax did against the inferior VHS videotape in the 1980s, and as artisanal bakeries did to industrial mass producers.

Losing status, however, is much easier than gaining it. Ask law firms, accounting firms, even universities how they might break into the elite status group within their industry, and there is typically no response. Turning low into high status is profoundly difficult — irrespective of quality, and especially if the starting point is from the base of the market status pyramid.

In the case we discuss below — Italian grappa — several attempts by entrepreneurs to improve the status of grappa and of their artisanal production methods resulted in failures and even bankruptcy — even though the quality of the product was superb. But Italian grappa did achieve the dramatic status move from the bottom to the top of the status ladder. It rose from a plebeian underdog of whisky and cognac to become a lifestyle product served at eminent social gatherings and offered by starred restaurants. How did this happen?

Until the 1970s, Italian grappa was considered a cheap, almost stigmatized beverage consumed at the margin of society and as being only appropriate for workers, peasants and alpine soldiers. It was associated with stigmatized artisanal and even clandestine production in hidden shacks. At the time, artisanal family firms were considered primitive — paradoxical in a country that would later give rise to the Slow Food Movement that praised such organizations. It is intriguing, therefore, that it was a young lady, Giannola Nonino — the wife of Benito, an exceptional distiller but marginal entrepreneur in the North Italian Friulian province — who turned the savoury spirit from a social no go to an hedonic must of Italian after-dinner tasting.

Giannola and her family, thanks to their Grappa di Picolit, created a beachhead into the expensive high status category occupied by foreign spirits; other artisanal producers followed and, eventually, the whole meaning of grappa in Italian society turned on its head. Grappa became “lo spirito nazionale,” at equal level with whisky and cognac (see figure below).

Figure 1. Category positions in the superordinate class of spirits in the Italian marketfigure-1-grappa-nonino

What can we learn from this story on how to elevate the status of a whole market category? We discovered that turning a weak low status position into a strong high status one is possible thanks to theorization by allusion — in other words, by performing a sort of cultural judo, never attacking directly the powerful market incumbents while relying on a perfect understanding of the cultural context of the market and of the own distinctive strengths.

Fundamentally, the strategy of allusion is based on three interconnected tactics:

  1. Detach yourself from the category in which customers put you. You should first confuse your customers and stakeholder. Giannola designed the bottle and presented herself in a way that contradicted restaurateurs’ and critics’ expectations on what grappa is and should be. When looking at the design and shape of the tiny minimalist bottle (see picture below) they wondered: ‘Is this grappa?’ When confronted with a young passionate lady dressed in Armani fashion, sommelier in restaurants were puzzled, but listened. Moreover, although the Noninos initially gave their precious bottles as gifts to prominent Italians, afterwards the price of Grappa di Picolit was set at an ‘astronomical’ level — again, as a way of distancing themselves from the low status traditional ‘grappa’ category. Finally they avoided any direct cooperation with grappa producers. They sought to avoid any risk of stigma by association. In the first stage of status elevation you should avoid bad company. All these tactics detached the product form the grappa category. But, puzzling your customers and stakeholders is not enough—you need a second tactic…small-grappa-nonino

    1. Emulate a proximate high status category. In other words, in addition to confusing potential clients and consumers you should provide a key by which to answer the confusion. The Noninos, supported by the anarchist maverick food and wine critic Luigi Veronelli, did so by adopting the vocabulary and practices of high status French wine (single grape, appellation of origin, cru). They also networked and convinced distinguished wine sales agent to distribute their grappa. And they directly addressed sommeliers in reputed restaurants. Doing so gave these stakeholders a language for talking about grappa in distinguished terms. Importantly, emulation is not the same as directly competing with high status members of the category in which you are located – the Noninos did not try and emulate and thus directly challenge premium cognac nor whisky.
    2. Engage in storytelling that connects tradition and cultural innovation. All of the previous tactics and efforts will be useless if you fail to engage in appropriate storytelling. It is necessary to embed and engage your product in stories beyond your immediate market, stories that resonate with wider cultural debates. Such cultural engagement is pivotal. Otherwise, why should a sommelier or a wine critic believe in the analogy between grappa and French wine? The Noninos used a kind of tightrope storytelling. On the one hand they reinterpreted and praised fading cultural traditions and national institutions: they fought for the preservation of traditional Friulian grapes, boldly presented themselves as a family business, promoted artisanal methods as authentic, and linked their bottles to traditional Venetian glass manufacturing. On the other hand, they connected grappa to the emerging Milanese art design and fashion movements and launched a Literary Award to anchor their story to an upward wave of national identity affirmation that resonated with the values of the Italian emerging elites.

    It is unlikely that the push for radical status elevation could be delegated to a PR agency. What we learned from this case is that unusual success only occurs when authentic messages are conveyed by authentic messengers that put their face and themselves at stake. And status dynamics of market categories are not important for consumer products only! Consider that institutional entrepreneurs are much needed in our organizations if we want to address the grand challenges of our times. Take these two examples: How to elevate the status of vegetarian meals in order to favour the reduction of carbon-intensive meat and dairy consumption? Or how to reduce the status of private in comparison to public transportation for the same aim?

    Notes:

    • This blog post is based on the authors’ paper How Cinderella Became a Queen Theorizing Radical Status Change published in Administrative Science Quarterly, December 2016.

    • The post gives the views of its authors, not the position of LSE Business Review or the London School of Economics.

    • Featured image credit: Nonino grappa distillery, by Riccardo Cattapan, ©Nonino 

    • Before commenting, please read our Comment Policy.

The Effect of Social Networking Sites’ Activities on Customers’ Well-Being

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[We’re pleased to welcome Seonjeong Lee, Assistant Professor at Kent State University in Hospitality Management. Lee recently published an article in Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research entitled “The Effect of Social Networking Sites’ Activities on Customers’ Well-Being.” From Lee:]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

    With customers’ increased interests in their well-being, many hotels have opened their eyes to the concept of “well-being” to promote their service offerings, to distinguish their brands from competitors, and to attract more customers. For instance, Westin Hotels & Resorts launched a well-being movement to promote their brands through meeting customers’ well-being needs. Scholars have also responded to increased interests in well-being, by investigating employees’ and customers’ perspectives; however, it was still puzzling what made customers fulfill their psychological needs that fostered their well-being perceptions when customers engaged with SNSs to share their hotel experiences. Thus, this study explored the effectiveness of the well-being marketing to investigate SNSs’ activities that influenced customers’ psychological needs and impact of a sense of well-being on customers’ brand usage intent in the context of the hotel industry.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you? 

    Results revealed that not all customers’ SNSs’ activities had positive effects on their autonomy and relatedness needs. When customers engaged with SNSs’ activities for self-centered motivations, such as self-enhancement and venting negative feelings, they fulfilled their autonomy and relatedness needs. However, customers did not positively fulfill their psychological needs when they posted their hotel experiences with other-centered motivations, such as concern for others. Even though one of the main motivations for customers to engage with SNSs’ activities was to add values to others (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004), customers might not be able to fulfill their psychological needs when they post comments of concern for others.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

Based on prior well-being marketing research and self-determination theory, this study examined how SNSs’ activities influenced customers’ sense of well-being when customers shared their hotel experiences and how hotel brands could benefit from customers’ well-being perceptions in SNSs. Results suggest hotel marketers need to promote their well-being marketing in SNSs. As customers positively fulfill their psychological needs through self-centered SNSs’ activities, hotels need to provide a place where customers share their experience to resolve any dissatisfied incidents and promote themselves to enhance their self-concept. In addition, hotels need to develop proper response strategies to customers’ negative comments. Even though venting negative feelings positively fulfilled customers’ psychological needs, negative comments might negatively influence prospective customers. Hotels need to adopt proper response strategies to develop a positive relationship with customers.

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How Coca-Cola Uses Social Media to Promote Corporate Social Initiatives

19792301106_fa09faba36_zWhat is the most effective way for companies to implement corporate social marketing (CSM)? In the Social Marketing Quarterly article “Examining Public Response to Corporate Social Initiative Types: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Coca-Cola’s Social Media,” authors Lucinda L. Austin and Barbara Miller Gaither suggest that the effectiveness depends upon the the corporate social initiative (CSI) type and the message content more than anything else. The abstract for the paper:

Corporate social initiatives (CSIs) are increasingly important in boosting public acceptance for companies, and emerging research suggests corporate social marketing (CSM) could be Current Issue Coverthe most effective type of CSI. However, scholars caution that CSM is not a one-size-fits-all. Through a content analysis of Coca-Cola’s social media posts on potentially controversial topics related to sustainability, health, and social change, this study explores how CSI type and message content influence public response to an organization’s social media corporate social responsibility posts. Posts emphasizing socially responsible business practices generally received the most favorable public response, while posts focused on cause promotion were received the most negatively. Findings also suggest that CSM is less effective when the issue and advocated behavior change appears to be acting against the company’s interests.

You can read “Examining Public Response to Corporate Social Initiative Types: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Coca-Cola’s Social Media” from Social Marketing Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Social Marketing Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Coca-Cola image attributed to Aranami (CC)

Success Story: How the Adelante Program Uses Social Marketing to Engage Latino Youth

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[We’re pleased to welcome William Douglas Evans of George Washington University. Dr. Evans recently published an article in the March 2016 issue of Social Marketing Quarterly with co-authors Elizabeth Louise Andrade, Ricardo Villalba, Idalina Cubilla, I. Rivera, and Mark C. Edberg, entitled “Turning the Corner: Development of the Adelante Program Brand of Latino Youth.”]

My recent publication, Turning the Corner: Development of the Adelante Program Brand for Latino Youth, extends recent work on health branding for behavior change to engagement in positive youth development (PYD) programs. Latino youth face numerous challenges and this project shows that development of a positive brand identity for community behavior change programs based on a PYD model can increase youth engagement. The formative research reported in this paper points the way to implementation strategies including use of role models depicted by local youth to build interest in the program. It also sets the stage for a digital media intervention in which youth role models tell their stories of program engagement within their social networks, creating a program ripple effect and community-wide engagement.

The abstract:

SMQ March 2016This article reports on formative research to develop the Adelante brand, an innovative program for Latino immigrant adolescents and their families. The brand applies social marketing principles used in previous health brands in areas such as tobacco control, substance use, and HIV prevention. Specific objectives were to apply branding principles as an approach to increasing adolescent engagement with, and participation in, a community-based youth development program called Adelante, which is based on positive youth development theory. We collected data in a primarily low-income Latino immigrant community, Langley Park, MD, located near Washington, DC. A total of 39 adolescents, ages 13–19, participated in six focus groups. We designed and tested a brand positioning statement, associations, a logo and graphics, and youth archetypes. We used thematic content analysis to code focus group data into broad topic areas and then analyzed the data using substantive coding to identify themes. The concepts of strength, resilience, and “turning the corner” by overcoming life obstacles and succeeding were the main themes. Latino youth face a challenging environment in which they grow up, finish school, and succeed. Adelante represents a source of support and help to turn the corner. A graphic depicting a city street corner with a darker side (past) and a brighter side (future) was identified as the Adelante logo. Youth characters named Victor and Erika, and an educational entertainment strategy, were conceived as a way to create a brand persona. Adelante is now actively building its brand to increase youth engagement in the program.

You can read “Turning the Corner: Development of the Adelante Program Brand of Latino Youth” from Social Marketing Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Social Marketing Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Classroom image credited to KT King (CC)

 

William Douglas Evans is a Professor of Prevention and Community Health & Global Health at George Washington University. He is lead author of the study and co-PI of the Avance Center.

Elizabeth Louise Andrade is an Assistant Research Professor of Prevention and Community Health at George Washington University. She collaborated on study implementation and is co-PI of the Avance Center.

Ricardo Villalba is a Case Manager at the Maryland Multicultural Youth Center. He participated in youth program activities and moderated youth discussions.

Idalina Cubilla is an Avance Center Doctoral Research Associate. She participated in program activities and assisted in Adelante brand development.

I. Rivera is a Consultant in formative research activities. She moderated focus groups with youth.

Mark C. Edberg is an Associate Professor of Prevention and Community Health at George Washington University. He is PI of the Avance Center.