Your Marketing Minute Newsletter

Behavior Change:
It's NOT Just the Person!

"My new diabetes group is so motivated!" exclaimed Anne, the new program manager. "I just need to teach them how to change their behaviors and they'll succeed." Her supervisor Nigel smiled. He knew better. Anne is focused on the targeted individuals, but in a vacuum. This approach is usually ineffective because it leaves out the powerful forces that are outside the individual's knowledge, motivation, and skills.

This same thinking happens to product marketers who become so enamored of their product that they figure all they need to do to generate the purchase behavior is tell the individual customer how great the product is. Think bigger.

To help, we've graphically combined several frameworks like the Social Ecological Model and Force Field Analysis that get at the complex interplay between the person and the many influences in his or her environment.

Take improving one's nutrition as an example. Powerful environmental influencers that can either promote or discourage healthier eating, include:

  1. PEOPLE — friends, family, and coworkers;
  2. ORGANIZATIONAL and community resources;
  3. CULTURE and norms;
  4. POLICIES, taxes and regulations;
  5. PLACES — the physical environment e.g. neighborhood markets with affordable, fresh produce.

The best programs work on most or all these environmental influencers, not just individual-level knowledge and behavior.

Challenge: Think of a behavior you want people to perform. Identify two environmental influencers that encourage the target behavior and two that discourage it. How will you address each influencer? Contact me if you'd like to discuss.


Moshe Engelberg, Ph.D., M.P.H.
ResearchWorks, Inc.

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