Case Studies

This section contains over 200 case studies of social marketing / behavior change programs from around the world, primarily from North America. It includes a broad sampling of programs to offer a wide variety of approaches and tools used, locations, types of organizations and participants, activities being promoted and problems being addressed. Most of these case studies illustrate approaches that have worked. However, examples of potential pitfalls are also included to provide you with a realistic map of the terrain ahead.

We are actively looking for new case studies with measured impact results. Do you know of any that might make good additions to this site? Please let us know.

All the Case Studies and examples are described in the past tense, including programs that are still operating. If the program is still operating, the Case Study summary is written in the present tense.

Are you looking for case studies in particular topic areas? View Topic Resources.

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Zehr's  Environment

A campaign at a Zehr's store in Kitchener, Ontario, reminded customers to buy products which used less packaging, were more concentrated and safer for the environment. Some customers were asked to make a commitment to purchase "green" alternatives and to watch an in-store information video showing other people making their decision to buy "green."

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Workplace Cycle Challenge Program  EnvironmentHealth

The ‘Workplace Cycle Challenge’ is a three-week long intervention to encourage people to take up and continue cycling; encourage people who are already cycling to cycle more often; and encourage people to cycle to work.

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Whitney Public School  Environment

Students at Whitney Public School were given a homework assignment to take responsibility for their home's Blue Box recycling for one week. The assignment was to be carried out by the students with parent participation. Information was provided to each home on new materials that were being accepted in the Blue Box.

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We're Toxic Free  EnvironmentHealth

The City of Peterborough conducted a door-to-door pilot campaign to influence residents' behaviours related to the purchasing and disposal of toxic household chemicals. Summer students staffed the campaign in which residents were asked to try non-toxic or less toxic alternatives.

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Way to Save Burlington!  Environment

The Way to Save, Burlington! pilot program was a community-based approach to marketing energy efficiency. Unlike many other community-based energy efficiency programs, no new measures were offered and existing rebate levels were not enhanced. The pilot increased active participation in existing conservation programs among all customer segments: residential, commercial, and industrial.

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Way to Go Durham  Environment

This case study covers the formative research and pilot testing of the City of Durham’s Way to Go program with City staff and local university students. It illustrates the value of A/B testing and Randomized Control Trials for evaluating alternative program tactics. It exemplifies the effective use of personalized commute plans distributed en-masse and shows that they can have a substantial impact on travel behavior, even with no added incentives.

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WaterSmart  Environment

To reduce peak period water consumption and increase awareness of the need to conserve water, a program involving watering restrictions, bicycle patrols and student exercises was implemented in Kamloops, British Columbia.

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Landmark Case Study WaterSense Adds Up to Big Water and Energy Savings  Environment

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), seeks to protect the future of the nation’s water supply by offering Americans a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, homes, and services. WaterSense labeled products, which are independently certified to use at least 20% less water and perform as well or better than standard models, have been on the market since 2007. As of 2021 there are more than 30,000 labeled models, including products used in residential and commercial bathrooms, and outdoor irrigation. EPA’s WaterSense program has also certified over 3,000 homes with WaterSense labeled fixtures and water-efficient features. Designated a Landmark case study by our Building Energy peer review panel in 2021.

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Waterloo's Plant Health Care Program  EnvironmentHealth

The City of Waterloo has dramatically decreased its use of pesticides on municipally owned land through practices that promote healthy, vigorous turf and soil. The city's Plant Health Care Program (PHCP) has over time become Waterloo's preferred method of turf care. 

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Water-Efficient Durham  Environment

The Regional Municipality of Durham targeted neighbourhoods with high summer peak water use, and convinced most residents to sign a written pledge to water their lawns in accordance with municipal guidelines. The program has consistently reduced peak water use in targeted neighborhoods by 30% at first, then leveling off at around 17% after a year. It cost $19 per household in 2004 and is considered to be 1/5 the cost of the alternative - which is to expand the water supply infrastructure.

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