Behavior Change and Latrines in Kenya

By Red Balloon Ideas on August 8th, 2012 1 Comment

Toilet. Loo. Latrine. Lavatory. Bathroom. Commode. Outhouse.

No matter what you call them – toilets have been a key part of economic and social advancement throughout history. This reality holds true in Nyanza Province, Kenya as well.

All our clients are dedicated to creating innovative solutions to address poverty and social justice issues – and Nuru International is no different.  With a mission of eradicating extreme poverty, their staff are working hard to empower the local community, create jobs and improve health.

One of the ways Nuru is working to achieve this goal is through public education and the provision of commodities that support healthy behaviors such as soap, hand washing stations and mosquito nets.  The newest product that Nuru is promoting in the community are cement slab latrines.

Those who have indoor plumbing may not think about the challenges that arise from open defecation.  Rainwater can wash fecal matter into nearby streams used for water collection causing diarrhea, cholera, and other diseases that kill 1.5 million children each year.  The use of toilets dramatically reduces contamination of food and water, increases productivity, and improves economic stability.

Improving public health is an important part of reducing poverty.  Nuru healthcare officers spent months encouraging community members to purchase or  build a latrine for their family. The health risks associated with open defecation were well known in the community, but Nuru wasn’t seeing any real shifts in behavior. Nuru staff recognized the importance of behavior change in reaching their goal.

We were contracted to help Nuru examine their product design and develop a strategy for interfacing with the community in Nyanza, Kenya about latrines. Our founder, Fay Johnson, spent two weeks in July working with Nuru’s Kenyan team.  During this time she conducted trainings on behavior change and collected data that will form the basis of a social marketing campaign for Nuru’s healthcare team.  Behavior change communication requires thorough research but creates lasting impact by leveraging existing social motivators and instituting new social norms in the community rather than simply transmitting information.

This photo is was taken during one of the training session Fay conducted with the team.  The group is making note of what they saw during an observational walk around the community.

Top 10 Mistakes in Behavior Change

By Fay Johnson on February 2nd, 2011 0 Comments

I am huge fan of the folks at the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, and it’s not just because I grew up in Northern California.

The research they are doing on persuasion is fascinating and easily applicable to many lines of work.  Take a look at the recent list of “Top 10 Mistakes” that they created, regarding behavior change communication.

Top 10 Mistakes in Behavior Change (Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab)

  1. Relying on willpower for long-term change. Imagine willpower doesn’t exist. That’s step 1 to a better future.
  2. Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps. Seek tiny successes — one after another.
  3. Ignoring how environment shapes behavior. Change your context & you change your life.
  4. Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones. Focus on action, not avoidance.
  5. Blaming failures on lack of motivation. Solution: Make the behavior easier to do.
  6. Underestimating the power of triggers. No behavior happens without a trigger.
  7. Believing that information leads to action. We humans aren’t so rational.
  8. Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors. Abstract: Get in shape; Concrete: Walk 15 min. today.
  9. Seeking to change a behavior forever, not for a short time. A fixed period works better than “forever.”
  10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult. Behavior change is not so hard when you have the right process.

At Red Balloon Ideas, we look at how the principles of Behavior Change or Social Marketing can be utilized to shift the behavior of a group or individual in a way that will help address pressing global issues like poverty, hunger or human trafficking.  In many developing countries where our clients work, communities often do not have access to the wealth of tech products that rely on wifi and constant internet connectivity.  However, there are best practices that can be applied no matter where your behavior change campaign is taking place.

The Persuasive Technology Lab describes themselves in the following way: the purpose of the Lab is to create insight into how computing products–from websites to mobile phone software–can be designed to change people’s beliefs and behaviors. Our major projects include technology for creating health habits, mobile persuasion, and the psychology of Facebook.

Smart Design: Healthy Schools

By Fay Johnson on November 14th, 2010 0 Comments

In April 2010, I worked in collaboration with the DC Public Schools, Georgetown University and WETA to run a short public information campaign called What’s In Your Kids Food? about the need for healthy eating.  At the campaigns main event we watched the movie FOOD Inc., answered parents questions and providing a brief cooking demonstration.  This provided an opportunity for parents to learn more about what their kids are eating, but it did not change the experience that children have when they enter the cafeteria.

Information is the starting point for affecting behavior but is seldom enough to create lasting change.  According to the CDC an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years in the United States are obese.  With such high numbers, the need for change is clear, but how to achieve healthier eating (and sustain it over the long-term) presents a challenge.

In October, the New York Times published this fascinating info-graphic about how the design of a cafeteria affects the choices made by students purchasing lunch at school.

Research by Brian Wansink and David R. Just, of the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell, shows how factors such as placement of food, the addition of options, and altered labeling can shift purchasing habits towards healthier eating.

Major companies spend a significant amount of their budget on product design and marketing because individuals respond differently to alterations in their environment and user experience.  The same rules apply in a school setting.

As advocates of healthy eating think through how to create systematic and sustainable change, it would be wise to consider this research and how school cafeterias (and other spaces) can be better engineered to positively influence choices.

Selling Happiness: Starting with What Motivates

By Fay Johnson on November 1st, 2010 1 Comment

As many globe-trotters have experienced, it is often easier to purchase a coke than to locate clean water. Not only has the Coca-Cola Company succeeded in distributing their product in almost every corner of the globe, they have also garnered significant profit from consumers living in communities where soda would be considered a luxury item.

Coca-Cola has developed marketing that effectively appeals to the self-interest of it’s global consumers.  As Melinda Gates points out in the following video– by marketing ‘happiness’ and tailoring their message to be culturally appropriate in all the regions where they operate, the Coca-Cola Company is able to link their product with a positive desire that most (if not all) consumers have.

A well developed social marketing campaign does the same thing – it starts by understanding the desires and self interest of the target audience and then promotes the specific action.  Which is more compelling? Being told that you should save 10% of your income because it’s the smart thing to do, or having someone paint a picture for you of your child’s graduation day from college?

It’s also important to remember that just because one needs something doesn’t mean one wants it.  For example, I need to exercise in order to stay healthy but I seldom want to go to the gym.  That is why large sports clubs often promote the potential benefit of regularly showing up at the gym, by indicating that you will become more attractive and therefore more successful in your social life if you frequent their establishment.  They sell you intangible social benefits, not equipment.  In this way, it is important to develop campaigns that focuses on that motivates behavior and what barriers stand in the way, not on simply transmitting a fact or piece of information to our target audience.

If Coke can sell billions of servings of coke a day, including in markets where development agencies and non-profits seek to create impact, then it is worth considering how to apply these principles to ‘sell’ important behaviors such as boiling water, using a condom or even drinking less soda.

Here is Melinda Gates talk about what she learned from Coca-Cola.

Social Marketing vs. Social Media

By Red Balloon Ideas on September 25th, 2010 1 Comment

What’s the difference between Social Marketing and Social Media?

Due to the significant rise of social media and social networking, most people assume social marketing is marketing using social media tools such as facebook, blogs and twitter.  Nope.

Social Marketing is actually a very distinct discipline which emerged in the 1970′s (a long time before Mark Zuckerburg was born). It’s about changing behavior for the common good – Instead of having a bottom of line focused on profit, the objective of this type of work is to shift and sustain a change in behavior of a particular group of people.

Social Marketing takes the marketing matrix’ of product, price, place and promotion and examines how the consumer (in this case, the person whose behavior one hopes to influence) views the product (tangible or conceptual) and what barriers must be removed before the ‘product’ can adopted.  It all starts with the audience, which means we conduct research to learn about the current beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of those with whom you intend to communicate.

Many early social marketers were advertising professionals who sought to use their medium of communication to encourage social responsible behavior.  Think about how some of these images from AdCouncil changed the way we think about particular issues.

Why is ‘good’ behavior not undertaken in the first place? There are many reasons why this is the case – and that is why it is important to conduct research to determine the barrier to adoption as part of the process of designing a campaign.

Is there no grocery store close enough to buy healthy food? Does the mother fear she will be beaten if she walks several days to the clinic and doesn’t have food prepared for her husband? Is there confusion about why mosquito nets work?  By understanding the challenges, you can remove as many barriers as possible and then empower the individual to move towards action.  These types of initiatives require a commitment to work towards altering the belief, knowledge and behavior of a target audience but in the long-term can create far more sustainable outcomes than soliciting a one-time action. Campaigns developed using this method need to be extremely focused.

Can social media be a useful tool in a social marketing campaign? Yes. Social media is a great mechanism for creating the opportunity for dialogue with your audience.  However, the messages being conveyed through any social media channel should be well developed and focused on moving the audience towards an understanding that leads to action.

Examples? Social Marketing has been used to address health concerns such as highlighting the need to buckle-up while driving and increasing the use of emergency hotlines by abuse victims.

What Is Social Marketing?

By admin on September 7th, 2010 2 Comments

The following are excepts from Nedra Kline of  Weinreich Communication explaining the history and basic principles of Social Marketing.  I thought she summarized the history and basic principles well- she has a health communication background.

“…Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, when Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.

Like commercial marketing, the primary focus is on the consumer–on learning what people want and need rather than trying to persuade them to buy what we happen to be producing. Marketing talks to the consumer, not about the product. The planning process takes this consumer focus into account by addressing the elements of the “marketing mix.” This refers to decisions about 1) the conception of a Product, 2) Price, 3) distribution (Place), and 4) Promotion. These are often called the “Four Ps” of marketing. Social marketing also adds a few more “P’s.” At the end is an example of the marketing mix…”

Read more from Nedra here.

This diagram and description from the Alcohol Learning Center explains the main components that go in to Social Marketing campaigns.

  • Customer or consumer orientation: A strong ‘customer’ orientation with importance attached to understanding where the customer is starting from, their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs, along with the social context in which they live and work
  • Behavior and behavioral goals: A clear focus on understanding existing behavior and key influences upon it, alongside developing clear behavioral goals. These can be divided into actionable and measurable steps or stages, phased over time
  • ‘Intervention mix’ and ‘marketing mix’: Using a mix of different methods to achieve a particular behavioral goal. When used at the strategic level this is commonly referred to as the ‘intervention mix’, and when used operationally it is described as the ‘marketing mix’
  • Audience segmentation: Clarity of audience focus using audience segmentation to target effectively
  • ‘Exchange’: Use of the ‘exchange’ concept – understanding what is being expected of people, and the real cost to them
  • ‘Competition’: Use of the ‘competition’ concept – understanding factors that impact on people and that compete for their attention and time