Assessing the Situation

What you Need to Know 

Back to Overview

Recently listening to TEDxCSU Talk on behavior change led by Professor Jeni Cross from Colorado University, I was immediately struck by how we routinely rush the planning stage of a behavior change communication (BCC) intervention. Taking time to understand where we are, where we want to go, and what will enable us to reach our goal is essential in devising a successful nutrition communication campaign. Resonating with this topic is the second webinar in Sight and Life’s Webinar Series “Assessing the Situation: What you Need to Know.” It is a valuable and timely reminder on the importance of understanding your target audience during the BCC planning process. 

During this enlightening dialogue Professor Cross spoke candidly about the existing myths regarding behavior change. For example, does education change behavior? What we know about education is how the information is presented, rather than the information itself, creates behavior change. Making learning tangible, personalized, and incorporating social interaction provides the greatest impact in behavior change.  

Another misconception is that one needs to change attitudes to change behaviors. Attitudes do not predict behavior! A more effective strategy is to connect to people’s values to set behavior expectations. The last myth is that people know the triggers that motivate them. Professor Cross argues this is not the case, as social norms have, by far, the greatest influence on human behavior. For instance, if you see someone select a healthy option at lunch, then you are more likely to follow suit. Understanding these constructs in human behavior is important because they are the core of developing successful nutrition communication campaigns.  Watch the TEDxCSU Talk below: 

Keep this principle thought in mind as you embark on the next steps in the BCC process presented in Sight and Life’s second webinar in the BCC Webinar Series. 

The Journey to Understanding your Audience 

Here are the questions to ask as you embark on step 2 and 3 in the BCC process:   
– What is it that I really need to know about my audience and the environment in which they live? 
– What works and does not? 
– How do I get to the core of what matters to my target audience? 

Webinar 2 walks through the typical knowledge needs required for a BCC intervention in nutrition, examines how to get the most out of each knowledge source and suggests approaches that enable a deep understanding of the target audience.  

BCC Process Step 2. The Desk Review 

Before beginning the desk review, be sure to answer the question, what is the purpose of this information and how do you plan to use it?  

The desk review encompasses three elements: 
– Exploring the broader context
– Reviewing the effectiveness of past experiences
– Understanding program context (reaching your target audience) 

In summary, elements 1 through 3 of the desk review help define the scope of your communication strategy. These identify the broad parameters and constraints to use when designing and delivering the intervention while also supporting the critical decisions when creating a communication strategy.  

BCC Process Step 3. Client Research 

The next step in the BCC process involves acquiring valuable insights from the target audience and communities you seek to change. We are again reminded of the BCC principle; know your audience!  

BCC, Nutritional Status, conceptual Model, behavior communicationDuring webinar 2 we share three key components in client research which support the gathering of comprehensive information on the target audience and factors that influence behaviors and practices; the inquiry framework (what do you need to know about the behaviors), applicable research methods (how to extract that information), and insight generation (moving from understanding behavior to finding deep, shared truths). 
BCC, Nutritional Status, conceptual Model, behavior communication
Consider the questions posed at the start of this blog: what do I need to know about my audience and the environment in which they live, what works or does not, and how do I get to the core of what matters to my target audience? Steps 2 and 3 help you answer these questions.  

Key Takeaways from Webinar 2 

– The BCC principle ‘know your audience’ lies at the core of developing successful nutrition communication campaigns.  
– Defining your knowledge needs, or simply what you need to know, is the first critical consideration.  
– Step 2 in the BCC process is about assessment, analysis, and synthesis of information to effectively answer questions on the broader context, the drivers and constraints for the target behavior and communication efforts previously employed to change the desired behavior.
– Client research, step 3 in the BCC process, involves gaining valuable insights from the target audience and communities that you seek to change. 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Essential Reading on Behavior Change Communication (BCC)

Back to Overview

At Sight and Life, we are pleased to share knowledge and recommend resources that we find useful in our work. This is certainly the case with behavior change communication (BCC)! To continue learning about BCC while waiting for the upcoming webinar, we have collated an array of books, websites, and e-learning modules that are valuable resources. This is just our opinion but we hope theses recommendations can deepen your knowledge on BCC and provide though-provoking ideas and inspiration as it did for us. 

During the first webinar in the Sight and Life Webinar Series focusing on behavior change communication (BCC), we examine integrating BCC into nutrition programs. The key learnings are:

– BCC is a communication approach with distinct underlying principles, which make it a valuable part of nutrition programming.
– It is complicated but can be managed by taking a systematic approach.
– Consider the Sight and Life BBC process cycle as a tool to support planning your nutrition communication campaign.

Find the video and the complete slide deck here from the first Sight and Life webinar People eat food not nutrition: Integrating BCC into nutrition programs HERE.
Behavior change communications, BCC, SBCC 
On May 15th we will be hosting our second webinar Assessing the situation: What you need to know (please register HERE). In this webinar we will identify the typical knowledge needs for BCC intervention in nutrition. We will discuss how to get the most out of the knowledge sources, including written material (program reports, scientific papers), experienced program stakeholders, knowledgeable service providers, and of course, your target audience. Additionally, learn tips for tailoring formative research to generate insights on the factors driving eating behaviors.

Our Recommendations on BCC

E- learning:

1. This interactive course by Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally project (SPRING) will guide you through narrated slides, quizzes, exercises, handouts, videos, and links to helpful resources. This course will help you understand agriculture’s role in improving nutrition, learn how to use behavior change methods to prioritize and promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture practices, and develop a behavior change strategy for current and future agriculture projects. Find it HERE.

Reading

2. Read this work SPRING; Evidence of Effective Approaches to Social and Behavior Change for Preventing and Reducing Stunting and Anemia to learn the findings from a systematic literature review. 

Lamstein, S.,T. Stillman, P. Koniz-Booher, A.Aakesson, B. Collaiezzi,T.Williams, K. Beall, and M.Anson. 2014. Evidence of Effective Approaches to Social and Behavior Change Communication for Preventing and Reducing Stunting and Anemia: Report from a Systematic Literature Review. Arlington,VA: USAID/ Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) Project.

Toolkit

3. Behavior Change Toolkit  – for International Development Practitioners
This behavior change toolkit is a useful, well written and simple introduction to BCC. A great resource for those starting their learning journey on BCC. The toolkit can be downloaded HERE.

Books

4. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Richard H. Thaler, and Cass R. Sunstein.
A book from the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics, Richard H. Thaler, and Cass R. Sunstein: it is a revelatory look at how we make decisions. The authors examine the process of how people think, and suggest that we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice. Nudge is really about the small, subtle pushes that our modern-day world makes to sway one’s opinion or real-world choices.

Why it’s on our Kindle’s
To succeed in behavioral change we must be able to offer people better, more favorable and less costly choices to what they are currently doing. To reduce the consumption of junk food in teenagers for example, we must be able to design alternatives that are equally desirable. Therefore, we must build an architecture that will encourage people to change their habits and follow our behavioral goals. We loved reading the real life examples in this book and learning how simple, thoughtful ‘nudges’ can help people change a variety of behaviors. Find it HERE
 
5. The Power of HabitWhy We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg 
In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. It uses research to explain how habits are formed and changed. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. 

Why we think it’s an essential read for BCC
We recommend The Power of Habit as an easy and fun to read introduction into the science of habit formation and the art of attempting to change them. As nutrition program managers, most of the time, our challenges go beyond changing people’s behaviors. Changing what and how people eat requires us to understanding people’s daily habits and then help them to adopt new routines. This book an excellent foundation to understand the particulars of habits. Buy your copy HERE.  

6. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. The Tipping Point explains the phenomenon of why some products, businesses, authors, etc. become hugely successful (tip) while others never seem to break apart from the masses as anything special. Buy your copy HERE.

Why we think it’s relevant to BCC
We think The Tipping Point is a great read to understand how change happens and what makes a behavior tip. Successful interventions and campaigns aimed at changing people’s routines have certain critical characteristic in common: They manage to gain followers, naturally mobilize the audience, and make the behavior contagious instead of imposing it. These initiatives succeed in making the behavior desirable, the message exciting and memorable – like a jingle that naturally ‘sticks’ – and they understand that ‘little things’ in people’s lives matter.

Happy reading!

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The Social Marketing of Micronutrient Powder in Sudan

Applying Formative Research to Design Social Marketing Strategies

Back to Overview

In this backstory we explore the article, ‘The Social Marketing of Micronutrient Powder in Sudan – Generating consumer insights to address micronutrient deficiencies’ written by Yana Manyuk in the Sight and Life magazine, Focus on Food Culture edition. Yana Manyuk is the Program & Policy Officer, Behavior Change Communications, for the World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Bureau for the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia & Eastern Europe.

In 2013, the introduction of MNP was originally piloted in three localities of Sudan’s Red Sea state in 2013 by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Food Programme. The research allowed an understanding of the consumer experience which was essential for reshaping program services and communication activities to fit beneficiary requirements.

After graciously accepting an interview with Sight and Life, Yana shared her experience and insight on the formative research she conducted in Sudan to gain consumer insights in order to design social marketing strategies that would generate demand for micronutrient powders (MNP). 

Ms Manyuk told Sight and Life she believes nutrition cannot be taken as a stand-alone subject, but one that takes into consideration underlying behavioral and socio-cultural perspectives.

Sight and Life magazine (SAL): What inspired you to choose this topic, and how did collect your data?

Yana Manyuk (YM): The WFP that distributing fortified flour at that point was facing quite low uptake. The Sudanese government, together with WFP, had already agreed on a decision to change the program design, as it required more effort from beneficiaries to collect and grind flour, and also to use the product. A decision had already had been made to change fortified flour to single-dose sachets. So, instead of coming to the centre and picking up a heavy bag full of flour, recipients could pick up a small sachet. They would still receive food; however, they could now use the food they received how they wanted, and could use the sachet how they wanted – for example when their children were eating separate food.

I was then brought on board to carry out formative research to see what we would need to do. The initial idea was to see what we needed to do to ensure the new program design and sachets would be accepted. Of course, we could have taken lots of angles to this research, such as looking into what packaging, color or design people preferred, and we could have simply researched the branding. But what was really important for me was knowing that the introduction of a new product into a community – especially a product that was a novelty for people – requires more than colorful branding to be accepted. It was essential to take a systems approach, and look at what needed to be improved from the beginning of providing the service – servicing the product, marketing, communicating, and using the product. So our research focused on the entire social marketing process, and the gaps and strengths of service provision, as well as the  marketing.  I was inspired by the desire to understand how to make the entire programme better, not just how we could make the product look and feel nicer.

SAL: How typical is social marketing in the development sector?

YM: The difference between our research and research you very commonly find around topics of introducing MNP, or introducing any new service or behaviour in the developing sector, is quite focused on the product or the service itself, as well as the barriers associated with that specific product or service. This is instead of taking the consumer of that service or product in the round, and really trying to get under the consumer’s skin, and discover the hooks in the lives of the people that we can use to market our service and product. Sometimes these hooks have nothing to do the qualities that we as nutritionists attribute to a product or service.

Scientifically, MNP is supposed to prevent anemia, which has certain symptoms and causes. If we had conducted research to understand whether or not people know what anemia is, what causes it has, and what symptoms, we would have found out that actually knowledge around anemia is pretty low. Our conclusion would have been: ‘Okay, we need to educate people about anemia, what it is, and why its important to prevent it.’ But that would not have told us one important thing: People care about anemia. So, is informing them going to help us gain acceptance of product, or do we have to understand what people really care about in their community? How do they frame issues about health? What symptoms do they associate with diseases? And then we need to explain in a language which people speak, and using symptoms they know.

I’m not saying it’s not important for people to watch out for symptoms of certain diseases. Some of the most successful education nutrition programmes take people’s own perspectives and understandings into account. For example, a Kenyan non-governmental organisation (NGO) designed a campaign around breast cancer prevention and self-examination … They were dealing with a quite illiterate population, so they took nuts and beans from what was available locally, and created a string of different-sized beans and nuts so that women could feel what a possible tumour could feel like – instead of explaining in medical language what it means to have cancer.

It’s very practical to use local materials. People are all about teaching, feeling, hearing, and  smelling, so what makes our research approach different is that we took the audience as the centre of our research. We took a step back from the thing we wanted to promote, and tried to understand what was important to people and their lives. It helped us immensely to brand MNP around those little nudges that would trigger people to accept the product.

SAL: I hear that you have a master’s in social marketing, Yana. How often do you find people with your skill-set in the sector where you work? 

YM: I think that my social marketing degree has significantly contributed to the ways in which I think today.  Many of these may be unconventional, in that I step back and look at the entire system of issues, from the side of supplying certain services, products, or behaviors to the demand side. But I also think the few programs that look at health and social marketing today – and I have been asked to be a lecturer on a distance social marketing programs – may be lacking a little bit of technical nutritional understanding. What’s important is that public health and nutrition degrees today integrate courses on behavioral economics, on marketing. I feel nutrition has been increasingly medicalized in the developing world. As a result, we have somewhat lost that human touch, and the socio cultural drivers of what is causing many of these problems. So a degree or course on these disciplines can be very, very helpful. But we don’t find many people with this degree. We are a rare breed!

SAL: If people wanted to learn more about social marketing, where could they go? Is there a website or distance learning course they might take?

YM: A number of universities offer social marketing courses. But the social marketing sphere is  still quite small in terms of places where to go. The annual World Social Marketing conference 2017 was in Arlington and, as far as I know, this was the first time UNICEF was represented there by the global director of their communications for developme[U2] nt department. This was a big deal, as the social marketing sphere is still quite dominated by actors from the developed world, addressing problems such as overweight, obesity, smoking, HIV, drug prevention, and so on.

The UK is very strong in the social marketing field. The National Social Marketing Centre in London started off as an NGO, and is now a consulting firm. It provides free online resources on the social marketing planning providers, plus some foods. The University of Brighton, UK, offers a social marketing programme, as does King’s College, London.

Different discussions about behavioral change communication (BCC) are taking place globally. BCC puts communication at the centre, and is all about designing communication strategies. Meanwhile, social marketing looks at understanding problems, and finding solutions which can be of a different nature. They can, but don’t have to, include communication and education, ways of redesigning an environment. It also looks at putting up control mechanisms. Thus, at policy levels, if we look at banning smoking, these are all technically tools that are the outcome of thoroughly-done social marketing research that understands the barriers, behaviors, and chief benefits.

From my heart, I wish to see more actors in this field who put one and one together, and include an understanding of people’s behaviors in their nutrition analyses, instead of adding these topics as an afterthought. We need to realize today that, in societies that are being increasingly diverse, globalized, and complex in terms of the industrialization of food systems marketing, we cannot take nutrition as a stand-alone subject. We have to look at the underlying behavioral and socio-cultural perspectives. I hope nutrition degrees not only educate people about nutrition, but help us understand why people do what they do.

Yana Manyuk

Social Marketing Specialist

Back to Overview

When I close my eyes and think about happy moments from my childhood in Russia, I can see my grandma stirring Russian Beetroot Soup in a big kettle and smell the freshly caught fish from dad’s fishing trip and recently picked mushrooms from the forest. When I was 9 years old my whole family moved to Germany. Amidst this incredibly challenging process of adaptation and slow transformation of my cultural identity – it was my grandma’s beetroot soup with sour cream that gave me comfort and a sense of home. That meal opened the door for my friends to discover my Russian culture through food, which told a story of heritage and provided a home of warmth.

I grew up in a family of artists and doctors – equally fascinated by the human sciences and the creativity of expression. At a very young age, I knew my dream job would be one where I could combine my love for science, humanities, food culture, and art. Behavioral change is as much a science as it is an art and I feel truly blessed that I live my professional dream. I often describe my role as a detective with a passion for innovative solutions. It takes patient research, sensitivity, empathy, and creativity to crack the case of how to change people’s behaviors.

“Out of a myriad of options to apply my set of knowledge and skills, I chose nutrition as it is the most interesting to me. Behavior change in this field has probably the most sophisticated goals; we not only aim to change multiple intricate behaviors but to gain a deep understanding of and influence people’s daily routines and change their habits. This is a difficult challenge.” – Yana Manyuk

I feel lucky to be working with a passionate and compassionate team comprised of different experiences, talents and expertise to solve some of the worlds most challenging issues with solutions drawn from innovation and characterized by their smart simplicity. It is an honor to be part of the Sight and Life family.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave