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Serving & connecting
Merging artistic and research perspectives, the collaboration aims to address social and environmental issues through a play-based approach, helping both the human and animal / wildlife species.
The project will explore the Marketing of micro-insurance (insurance with low premium and low caps) – especially those hedging against human-wildlife conflict (HWC) – to first-time buyers in subsistence marketplaces. HWC occurs when people and wildlife compete for space and food. The encounter is problematic for both parties. It can occur in any geography though the ramifications are more pressing in emerging economies with their growing populations still heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture on the one side and vast wildlife habitats on the other. The team intend to shed light on how to effectively raise insurance literacy – an important option to mitigate HWC – and more efficiently communicate benefits of such complex services to audiences who tend to have low levels of literacy, low income, and little overall service experience.
In the initial project stage, the aim is to better understand how such audiences manage risks stemming from HWC. Conversations about risk management tend to be very complex in general and particularly so for audiences with limited insurance literacy. Inspired by extant research in Marketing and Developmental Economics, the team plan to adopt a plat. y-based approach to study the understanding, and acceptance of complex services. Specifically, they aim to explore people’s understanding of HWC related risk as well as their personal risk management with the help of a self-developed, scenario-based group board game. The development and pre-testing of this game is the subject of this project.
Dr Anna Dubiel is Lecturer in Marketing (Assistant Professor) at King’s Business School, King’s College London, UK. She received her Ph.D. from the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany. Her research interests lie in the field of international innovation and R&D management. She has published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management, International Marketing Review, Industrial Marketing Management, and contributed to edited volumes of the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA).
Andy Merritt is one half of Something & Son who explore social and ecological issues via everyday scenarios criss-crossing the boundaries between the visual arts, architecture and activism. Through permanent installations, functional sculptures and public performance that provide a framework or foundation for communities and ecologies to build upon. Works mimic the everyday to act as familiar starting point and then take the subject into new realms. Something & Son have exhibited at Tate Britain; Tate Modern, V&A Museum; Manchester International Festival; Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; Deon Foundation, Netherlands; Vienna Biennale/MAK, Austria; Artangel, UK; Milan Design Week, Italy; Cultural Olympia, London; Folkestone Art Triennial, Design Museum, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, the Wellcome Collection and Istanbul Design Biennial.Talks and workshops include the Serpentine Gallery, Kunst-Werke, Berlin; the Science Museum, SALT, Istanbul; Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, Zurich; CIT, Ireland; Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins, Riga Technical University, Latvia; Design Indaba, Cape Town; British Council, ICA and the Barbican.
Additional academic partner | co-investigator:
Dr Prokriti Mukherji is Lecturer of Marketing at King’s Business School, King’s College London, UK. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA. Her research interests include marketing strategy, health and pharmaceutical marketing, high-technology marketing, peer to peer marketing, and issues pertinent to emerging economies. She has published in the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Product Innovation Management, the Journal of Business Research, and Journal of Advertising Research among others.
Blog written by the project team
We started our game development endeavour by drawing upon extant literature in Marketing, Developmental Economics, Environmental Management, and Education, as well as existing board games rooted in various cultures. We opted for a board game as a means of communicating the benefits of HWC micro-insurance because a board game may make a complex and unfamiliar service more tangible to the target constituencies. Playing the game multiple times can further assist individuals in enhancing their insurance literacy and thus improving their decision-making regarding insurance purchase. There are, however, two challenges that we needed to overcome while developing the game. First, aligning the game incentives, i.e., the “right” balance between farm production (crops and livestock), and protection (fences and microinsurance) with the realities of individuals affected by HWC was a challenge that we dealt with. Second, minimising the cognitive leap between the game and the real world had to be successfully managed.
Moreover, we wanted our game to be as universally applicable across various geographical settings as possible. We thus opted for pictograms instead of game rule pamphlets, which can be both tedious and less engaging.
In addition, rather than using a figurine representing a specific animal we chose to use a “chimera”, a figurine which could represent a carnivore or a herbivore wildlife. This “chimera” would be the wildlife that would raid fields and attack livestock herds.
To add excitement and unpredictability to the game the players roll a set of three dice, and the combined outcome of the roll designates the direction and distance of the wildlife’s movement. The following photos provide an overview of selected game development stages. The current prototype version (last photo) shows a wild animal (golden figurine in the middle) surrounded by farmland, fences, rivers, crops (orange chip), and livestock (white chip). Stay tuned with our further game development steps!
In our quest to familiarise a wider stakeholder set, including students, and others at the school with the challenges of HWC, we have included a HWC-related coursework assignment into the “Digital Marketing” module taught within the International Marketing MSc (Executive) programme in Term 2. Student teams were asked to develop and present ideas on two possible topics.
1. Develop a concept for a counselling service helping people living in subsistence markets and affected by HWC induced family losses/injuries to find an emphatic “ear” and
2. Recommend ideas on how to promote micro-insurance (or a government-led compensation scheme) to first-time buyers in subsistence marketplaces. The specific emerging market to explore was Mozambique. The project has been accompanied by a wildlife conservation and HWC expert who works in Mozambique. They introduced the topic to students at the beginning of the project. The following photos showcase one of our classes.
We held two test-playing workshops with nine King’s Business School students to explore how players experience the flow and the outcomes of the protype of the game. The students’ feedback has been very valuable! We discovered, for instance, that the animal did not attack often enough to make the game captivating! Consequently, players were choosing not to protect their farms with insurance and fences. In other words, the low levels of damage happening to the players’ farms were neither mirroring the real-world HWC levels nor were they promoting micro-insurance as a conflict mitigation option sufficiently.
After some adjustments to the board layout and the game rules following the first test-play we invited a new batch of students to a second workshop (see some details here). Students engaged with the updated game to a higher extent that brought HWC and mitigation strategies more successfully to life! Students purchased more insurance and fences as the animal attacked more regularly and also more intensely. We noticed that the winners at these tests-playing sessions had made decisions that led to greater protection of their farms over the course of the game providing tentative support to our original ideas about the game’s benefits. Our game is still a work in progress, but these insightful sessions clearly constituted a leap forward! We hope to be testing the game next time in the field, i.e., with some stakeholders, who experience HWC daily, in a subsistence marketplace. Please explore some photos from one of our test-playing workshops below!
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