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Wild assumptions? Questioning simplistic narratives about consumer preferences for wildlife products (Open Access)
1. That wildlife consumers prefer wild products to farmed alternatives is a widely reported finding in the conservation literature. These reported preferences for wild products have been interpreted as evidence that farming and associated trade undermine conservation efforts. These conclusions have then been used to influence policy recommendations and the design of conservation interventions related to use of farming itself, as well as to underpin consumer behaviour change campaigns. 2. However, for many species and products, the wild versus farmed narrative is based on assumptions that over‐simplify consumer behaviour and can lead to conclusions that do not recognize the complexity of real wildlife markets. These assumptions include the notions that consumers of the same products have homogeneous preferences, that wild and farmed are the only distinct product types available, and that these preferences do not change over time. 3. We highlight the difficulty in linking stated preferences and real‐world behaviour, due to confounding factors. A consumer who typically prefers wild products may be deterred by factors such as legality, high prices or even simple availability. 4. We recommend that researchers embrace these complex markets rather than trying to simplify them, and clearly state the limitations of studies that try to make the connection between stated preferences and actual behaviour. This includes considering the full range of products available, what or who might influence the actual purchasing decision a consumer makes, and the diversity of people who may buy wildlife products. 5. Considering this complexity is likely to improve evidence‐based recommendations for the design of large‐scale conservation interventions and policy changes. This will ensure that these interventions are better able to reduce the negative impacts on biodiversity from illegal and unsustainable trade, and promote sustainable trade that can benefit both people and wildlife.
Hinsley, A, 't Sas‐Rolfes, M. (2020) Wild assumptions? Questioning simplistic narratives about consumer preferences for wildlife products. People and Nature. 2: 972– 979
Published: Jun 2020 | Categories: Research Articles