Using social marketing strategy to promote recycling among university students in a Thai university

Kruayim, Sariya (2020) Using social marketing strategy to promote recycling among university students in a Thai university. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


One of the suggested strategies to tackle global GHG emissions and reduce the total amount of waste production was to promote recycling worldwide (The World Bank report, 2015). Thailand committed to and signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, and the nation of Thailand also committed to reducing GHG emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2030 (The country report, 2015). According to the World Bank report (2015), only 4 per cent of GHG emissions was from M.S.W.; however, the reduction of waste generation and elimination would provide other benefits such as reducing health problems and reducing raw material consumption. However, the government discovered many barriers restricting the country reaching the targets, such as a lack of landfill sites, technology, budget, data and data sharing and a lack of the residents’ awareness and participation in recycling as well as a low recycling rate at just 19 per cent in 2015 (UNDP, 2016: The country report, 2015). So, the World Bank (2015) suggested that promotion of recycling needs more parties to engage and work together with such as the private sector and other stakeholders to facilitate activities and to encourage residents to improve their recycling behaviour. This research aims to offer effective, practical, and innovative social marketing strategies to university teams to facilitate activities to promote young people to perform recycling and sustainably maintain the new behaviour. The university will gain multiple benefits, not only will there be a reduction in waste, but there will also be an improved reputation for producing students with a healthy attitude towards environmental protection and sustained recycling behaviour. This research was conducted at Chiang Mai University (C.M.U.) between January 2017 and January 2018 with undergrad students, C.M.U. staff and C.M.U. stakeholders, it examined the students’ lifestyles and the needs of the students’ concerning recycling promotion and how to explore further the effective promotion of recycling amongst students. A combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection was adopted, and the selected methods were questionnaire survey, semi-structured interviews, a focus group, informal conversations, observation and others. Thematic analysis methods were adopted via Excel and SPSS. This study is action research which consists of 5 key phases: the Problem Identification Phase; the Research Planning Phase; the Research Taking Phase; the Evaluation Phase and the Learning and Reporting Phase (Fourali, 2015). At the Research Planning Phase, the participants were 18 student volunteers, 394 student questionnaire respondents, 12 student interviewees, 13 C.M.U. staff interviewees, and 18 C.M.U. stakeholders. The participants, when divided into gender, consisted of 167 males and 286 females. The findings exhibited that students believed that their awareness and behaviour towards recycling would be increased by participating in exciting activities, receiving incentives, having sufficient recycling facilities, and by following other students’ suggestions. Moreover, students preferred Social Media Platforms for receiving messages promoting recycling. Ninety-nine per cent of the students used cell phones to access Social Media Platforms, with 88.6 per cent of respondents accessing Facebook every day. While the staff at C.M.U. believed that promoting recycling topics to the students could have a higher rate of success if a combination of student engagement, activities, rewards and improved university policies were utilised. C.M.U. stakeholders thought that encouraging students to participate in recycling activities could utilise target audience participation, strong commitment, volunteering, stakeholder engagement, incentives and others. At the Research Planning and Research Taking phases, this research adopted a Facebook Page, university notice boards, and student volunteers to facilitate recycling activities. Furthermore, this research adopted the establishment of a competition “C.M.U. Recycling Ambassador’s Competition’ to test the findings with an array of relevant psychology, management and social marketing models and theories. By utilising the Facebook Page, 26 ambassador teams promoted and encouraged students and families to participate in recycling behaviour and compete against each other. The contestants were 30 males and 55 females. They gained public interest and encouraged their peers to engage in the activities. The online participants provided comments and engaged with Facebook’s social media tools such as clicking ‘Like and Love’, and Sharing the messages of the contestants online. The results showed that there were 70,299 ‘Like, Love, Share, and Comment’ actions and 137,710 views by their peers during the competition duration of one month. At the Evaluation Phase, there were 135 satisfaction survey respondents (43 males and 92 females). The satisfaction survey discovered that 88.9 per cent of respondents supposed that they would participate in similar projects in the future because they believed that the activities provided them with better recycling knowledge and increased their understanding of recycling using innovative methods. They said that their recycling awareness was increased and that their new behaviour would become a new norm if the university continued to promote and encourage recycling.

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