Introduction: The project was aimed at the development of materials to be used in the CHOICE campaign. The campaign, which was administered to middle- School aged youngsters who are ATV riders, purposed to influence safety practices and other variables based on the theory of planned behavior.
Background: The number of ATV riders has increased in West Virginia and country wide. The number of ATV related accidents and mortality have also increased significantly. West Virginia leads in ATV related mortality by about 7.8% higher than the national average. To help address this problem, the ten step social marketing procedure developed by Kotler was used in the campaign. In West Virginia, most riders do not incorporate safe riding practices hence making it one of the least safe places for ATV riding across the country.
Methods: The campaign began with a formative research. The research was conducted based on focus group interviews that involved 65 students, male and female. The objective of the focus group interviews was to determine the perceptions and experiences of students in relation to ATV riding. Through the focus group discussions, it was possible to identify a target audience for the campaign, to put down campaign objectives and to develop materials for the campaign. ATV rider studies were conducted to provide information relating to safety practices among riders as well as to explain how the safety behaviors were first developed. The findings indicated that there was a disconnection between awareness and practices in relation to safety. Additionally, it also indicated that most of riders failed to comply with safety requirements due to inconvenience and discomfort. The riders also reported engaging in activities that they considered uncomfortable and where they felt that they were pushed beyond their limits. Peer pressure also came up as one of the reasons for failure to comply with safety requirements.
Campaign Development: The campaign results indicated that those in most need of the campaign information were young riders as they disproportionately succumbed to ATV related accidents. The campaign team decided that 10- 12 year old riders would be reached through their schools’ collaboration. Out of the 12 schools contacted, only three responded positively and the children were included. The campaign was aimed at improving perceptions and practice of safety behaviors in ATV riding. The branding message was created based on a CHOICE acronym which also helped in the development of the marketing mix. The products of the campaign were the fun and safety experienced in ATV ridership, the price was nominal as participants did not pay; the place was the school setting while the promotion strategy involved both oral and written communication formats. Due to time limitations, the campaign materials were not pilot tested but were previewed by the educators. Various strategies were also used for evaluation.
Results: From the results collected, the campaign helped students to learn various aspects of ATV safety. For instance, students reported recalling different aspects of safety practices such as wearing helmets and riding the right size of ATVs. Safety behaviors and attitudes also improved so that many of the respondents reported engaging in various safety practices.
Discussion and Conclusion: From the results, there is an indication that people may be willing to change their ridership behaviors. It should however be understood that the transformation will be slow and that the level of ingrained behaviors should be understood. In conclusion, the research was successful yet limited due to the constraints of formative research. It thus offers an opportunity for future studies.