Countermarketing in a wicked problem context – the case of cocaine
In this chapter, we examine the cocaine supply problem from the perspective of wickedness, not in a moral sense but as a problem that seems intractable. We review the complexity of attempting to demarket cocaine by inﬂuencing the demand and supply sides at play. In doing so, we seek to introduce frameworks that can help policy makers and planners navigate the complexity of the phenomenon in such a way that tangible behavioural outcomes might be identiﬁed and pursued. We do not prescribe what precise interventions and policy should result, not least because further research needs to be undertaken at the local level into the eﬀectiveness of existing interventions and into the user community and their motivations in order to allow them to be precisely segmented. Rather, we hope to help the planner and policy maker span the analysis gap between the apparent complexity of the strategic picture and local thinking about speciﬁc interventions that needs to take place. We advocate the lens of a wicked problem, the utility of soft systems thinking and the structure of social marketing as a way of moving from the strategic picture to the local. We begin by deﬁning wicked problems in the context of cocaine supply and demand. We then discuss the origins of cocaine use and the global nature of cocaine distribution and supply so that the interconnected dynamics of the problem can be established. A review of the literature on cocaine use and its causes is undertaken as we introduce soft systems and social marketing perspectives. Finally, we derive a set of principles that we think will be important in the development of policy and future cocaine demarketing interventions in the UK and elsewhere.