The authors used an action research approach, involving the design and implementation of a health marketing campaign alongside promotion of a clean burning biomass cookstove. Four communes were chosen to carry out interventions and a fifth as a control group. Among the four intervention communes, two were provided with positive health messaging and the other two with negative health messaging. The methods included a baseline study of 381 households using structured surveys, roll-out of the health campaign, in-depth interviews with households and sales agents, ten focus group discussions with households and an endline structured survey of all 381 households.
The authors found that neither the type (positive/negative) nor the intensity of the health campaigns had a significant impact on stove sales. Sales results show no pattern in either variable, and sales in the control commune were not lower than in communes where health campaigns were used. However, health messaging did increase awareness about health impacts of cooking with traditional biomass burning stoves. For almost all communes, in particular those that received positive-tone messages, an increased awareness of the health impact of cooking with traditional biomass burning stoves was observed. Cookstove price and personal characteristics of individual sales agents were shown to be the strongest factors affecting sales.