Do You Know About Community Based Social Marketing?

Our colleagues at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Environmental Finance Center have written a very interesting article about this process.  They write that, “CBSM uses social science research to identify barriers to the adoption of preferred behaviors and enhance their benefits once adopted. This strategy emphasizes direct contact among community members and the removal of structural barriers to encourage sustainable behaviors.”

So, how does this work for water systems in the ‘real world’?  The article uses the dilemma of promoting water conservation while, at the same time, maintaining necessary revenues for water system operation as the example of how CBSM can work.  It also provides some utility-specific examples to further illustrate the process.

Finally, the article states that, “the marketing practice is pragmatic and data-driven; it emphasizes a five-step process:

  • Identify barriers and benefits of a behavior or activity
  • Develop strategy that uses tested tools to overcome identified barriers
  • Conduct pilot of the strategy across a given community
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of pilot program
  • Implement a strategy based on what was learned from the pilot”

To learn more about CBSM and to read the full article, please go to


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