There is a story that says that the Chevy Nova, a wildly successful automobile in North America, was a complete flop when introduced in spanish speaking countries. The reason? “No va” is spanish for “Doesn’t go.” Quite a barrier to sales.
Whether true or not, the story illustrates the importance of identifying barriers to adopting a behaviour. In that case, the desired behaviour was the purchase of the car. By not checking with customers, Chevy was faced with a tremendous barrier to car sales.
Imagine a barrier for a waste management program. Some municipalities have fallen into the trap of placing recycling drop-off depots in places that were not accessible to many people, reducing their usefulness. In one case many years ago, the launch of a blue bag recycling program was hindered by the unavailability of blue bags in stores. People wanted to use the program but simply could not.
The Canadian Province of Nova Scotia, where I live, is currently planning to ban the use and sale of cosmetic lawn pesticides and herbicides, citing the availability of gluten-based alternatives. (http://www NULL.beyondattitude NULL.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/PesticidePledge NULL.jpg) That sounds great, but my little bit of searching around has not uncovered any gluten-based products to purchase in the stores near where I live. In fact, the people in the stores I spoke with had never heard of gluten-based products. Unavailability is a significant barrier to using them. Before the pesticide ban goes into effect, the government will be well-advised to engage retailers to ensure the preferred alternative is available in stores (something I am told they plan to do).
In order to foster sustainable behaviour, Community-based Social Marketing (http://www NULL.cbsm NULL.com) program designers always research the barriers to behaviour adoption and develop strategies to remove them. It is a critical step to success.
In the next few posts, I will examine barrier identification and removal, using real examples from my experience developing CBSM programs in many different communities.