The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFGD), and the Center for the Environment have partnered on a project to conduct research to assist the New Hampshire angler program in more effectively reaching fishing participants to encourage license sales to promote conservation. This project, entitled, “Using Community Based Social Marketing to Improve Angler Retention in New Hampshire,” involves a focused assessment of the New Hampshire angler population to identify perceived barriers to and attitudes about purchasing a license. This work will contribute to an understanding of the specific dynamics of fishing license purchasing and perceptions of NHFGD conservation efforts in New Hampshire.
Graduate student Matt Bartley and his advisor, PSU faculty member Dr. Brian Eisenhauer, will use Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) to guide the outcomes of their work. Their research involves a mixed methods approach; they will be using key informant interviews, focus groups, and a random sample survey along with analysis of RBFF’s data on national motivations for and barriers to anglers purchasing fishing licenses. The project will help NHFGD and RBFF develop more effective marketing programs for angler recruitment and retention. The project is supported by $15,000 grants from both RBFF and NHFGD.
Given current trends in participation rates and the “churn” dynamic resulting in inconsistent license purchasing from year to year among anglers, angler recruitment and retention is a critically important issue in New Hampshire since NHFGD relies on funds from license purchases to conduct their programs. Efforts supported by RBFF have been made to understand angler recruitment and retention issues in the US, and to develop marketing techniques to address them. Knowledge of the specific dynamics of recruitment and retention in New Hampshire is necessary to improve the effectiveness of marketing efforts by NHFGD. To successfully address the challenges of angler retention in New Hampshire additional research is being conducted to understand the specific social and cultural dynamics affecting license sales in the state. This information will help inform the design and delivery of effective marketing materials.
Starting in the summer of 2012, Matt and Brian will work on incorporating the results of RBFF’s initial work on national motivations and barriers into a focused assessment of the New Hampshire angler population. The project focuses on the specific factors affecting recruitment and retention in the state and, in addition, provides a new conceptual approach to the design of marketing materials using CBSM. CBSM is an empirically supported framework used to guide the design of communications created to stimulate participation in environmentally responsible behaviors. Successful efforts employing CBSM are grounded in research to understand the target audience and the key factors affecting participation in a desired behavior. Many of these factors are complimentary to the concepts and approaches that have been used by RBFF previously in national assessments of anglers, and developing a CBSM based approach allows NHFGD to build on the work already done by RBFF.
Data collection for the project involves a series of in-depth interviews conducted with key informants (active anglers, NHF&G officials, representatives of non-profits related to fishing and conservation efforts in New Hampshire) to inform the selection of the perceived barriers and benefits of angler’s purchase of fishing licenses. In the second phase of the research focus groups will be held to gain a better understanding of the key factors affecting license purchasing directly from anglers themselves. In the last stage of the research a random sample survey will be conducted to identify key angler barriers and benefits, identify motivations relative to New Hampshire, determine important variables for audience segmentation, and collect other information that can be used to create CBSM based approaches to marketing, such as important social norms affecting license renewal. In combination these efforts will provide place-specific knowledge about the social dynamics affecting angler retention in New Hampshire that will be used to develop new marketing techniques.
The outcome of this study will be usable information to guide for NHFGD on how to invest resources to raise New Hampshire residents’ awareness and appreciation of the need to protect, conserve and restore the resources managed by NHFGD. Through consistent collaboration with NHFGD and RBFF the work will lead to the production of a project report that can be used as a foundation for more effective marketing efforts. The project is expected to continue through the spring of 2013.