This article focuses on the role of social marketing, in particular the analysis of the motivations and capabilities of stakeholder groups, in encouraging acceptance of an innovative experimental approach to semiarid shrubland restoration in Chile. Controlled scientific experiments involving herbivory control during El Niño events have proved promising, but have not yet been introduced into ecosystem management approaches. Social marketing, as a lens for focusing on and understanding stakeholders’ motivations, provides a valuable framework in which strategies may be developed for diffusing promising scientific experiments into regional management contexts.
While complex environmental challenges are difficult to understand and even more difficult to manage, we have raised the possibility in this paper that social marketing in general, and Rothschild’s framework in particular, offer practical insights into the trade-offs and policy interventions that might help move a system towards conservation. We acknowledge that social marketing is not a panacea. Nonetheless, it needs to be added to the development literature like other approaches that are better documented, such as participatory management and community-based management. Its contribution, however, is that it reveals the significant differences in motivation that characterize different social groups concerned with or affected by conservation imperatives. As such, social marketing can provide a source of further insight for those dedicated to restoration in complex social contexts.