This edition of Get to Know features Julie Ipe, Director of Demand Generation and Behavior Change – Clean Cooking Alliance. McCann Global Health partnered with the Alliance to promote clean cooking in Nigeria. We sat down with Julie to discuss her work, and how creativity, human truths, and multi-channel communications are driving demand for clean cooking worldwide.
Tell us a little about your role at the Clean Cooking Alliance.
Three billion people still depend on polluting, open fires and inefficient stoves to cook their food. This dependency has serious negative consequences for not only individual health outcomes but also for livelihoods and the environment. The Clean Cooking Alliance exists to address this problem. We are working with our global network of partners to build an industry that makes clean cooking accessible to families around the world. My work focuses on driving consumer demand for cleaner, more modern cookstoves. For us, demand creation is all about motivating behavior change and raising awareness. To date, we have supported interventions in eight countries and reached close to 40 million people.
How do you approach demand creation for clean cooking, as a health behavior and a health product?
Demand creation is one of the most challenging aspects of our work. We are asking people to change a fundamental behavior and ritual – how they cook. We are asking them to make a significant upfront investment in a new product like a clean stove, and an ongoing investment in purchasing fuel. And, we are asking them to believe clean cooking is a smart investment for their families.
Our work has taught us that multi-channel approaches are key to driving such significant magnitudes of change. For example, our analysis of a clean cookstove campaign in Nigeria, Upgrade to Gas, showed that radio spots piqued people’s interest in modern cookstoves. It also showed that personal interactions with outreach workers were most influential in driving consumer understanding of the pay-offs of switching to a safer liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cookstove, and in building their confidence to make the switch.
What are the most significant opportunities to drive demand for clean cooking?
In almost every country and context where we work, we’ve seen that people want a better life. They want tools to make their lives more convenient, and they want to be seen as modern. Given this pattern, we started talking about clean cooking as something aspirational. By first talking about pride and modernity, we activate people’s curiosity. From there, we can explain the benefits of clean cooking such as time and cost savings, cleaner air in their homes, etc. When you link these future and immediate payoffs, people start seriously considering the switch.
What lessons have you learned in the clean cooking space that those working to drive demand and change behavior in other health areas could apply?
One of the most interesting things we have explored in our work is how to change social norms, particularly the idea that the kitchen is the women’s domain, and that men have no role in cooking. The fact that clean cooking is considered a “woman’s issue” is one of the biggest reasons indoor air pollution has not been solved yet. So, one of our goals has been to get men more involved in cooking. When men see themselves as part of the kitchen as well, they will understand how uncomfortable and inconvenient it is to cook with polluting, inefficient stoves.
What are some examples of how the Clean Cooking Alliance uses creative communications in its demand creation and behavior change work?
One of my favorite examples is a Nigeria-based project we worked on with McCann Global Health, Upgrade to Gas. McCann Global Health engaged their local team in Nigeria to surface a core creative idea that got to the heart of what inspires people to change. The idea – that using a clean cookstove represents a “smarter, better, faster” way of life – was then translated into a web series that really struck a chord with our target audience. The main character of the series, Mama Imade, is a Nigerian woman people can identify with. The series brings her story to life and uses a positive, humorous narrative that brings the audience along her journey as she overcomes common barriers that prevent people from making the switch to clean cooking.
To learn more about the Clean Cooking Alliance and their work supporting the development, sale, distribution, and consistent use of clean cooking solutions that transform lives, click here to visit their website.