Conservation solutions require the modification or cessation of human activities.•
Marketing techniques are designed to influence human preferences and behaviour.•
We provide an introduction to the main objectives of marketing.•
We discuss and illustrate how marketing can be applied to conservation issues.•
We encourage acceptance of marketing as a component of the conservation toolbox.
Addressing impacts from human activities requires the change of current practices. However, reaching a target audience about conservation issues and influencing their behaviour is not easy in a world where people are continually bombarded with information, and distractions are permanently available. Although not typically considered to be part of the conservation science toolbox, marketing techniques were designed in the commercial sector to identify and influence human preferences and behaviour by placing target audiences at the core of the marketing process. It thus seems reasonable that the same marketing principles and tools could and should be used to address pressing conservation issues. In this manuscript, we provide an introduction to the main objectives of marketing and illustrate how these can be applied to conservation and animal welfare issues. To that end we offer two examples: Project Ocean, where a major UK retailer joined forces with the Zoological Society of London to influence consumer behaviour around seafood; and Blackfish, which coupled social media with an award-winning documentary to create a discussion around the welfare of large cetaceans in captivity. Without the ability to influence human behaviour, a conservationists’ role will likely be limited to that of describing the loss of biodiversity and the decline of the environment. We thus hope that conservation practitioners can embrace marketing as a fundamental component of the conservation toolbox.