Economic Botany

, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp 360–369 | Cite as

The Eruption of Technology in Traditional Medicine: How Social Media Guides the Sale of Natural Plant Products in the Sonoran Desert Region1

  • Andrew J Semotiuk
  • Nancy L Semotiuk
  • Exequiel Ezcurra
Article

The Eruption of Technology in Traditional Medicine: How Social Media Guides the Sale of Natural Plant Products in the Sonoran Desert Region

Because the adoption of technology into traditional systems has unknown effects, we examined the hypothesis that social media aids shopkeeper selection of herbs or herbal preparations that the public is exposed to. Medicinal plant shopkeepers in southern Sonora, Mexico, were interviewed about their customer base and marketing strategy. The majority, 85%, of their customers had low to middle incomes as ranked by the shopkeepers, of which seven of seventeen incorporate social media marketing into their marketing strategy. Shopkeepers preferentially selected herbal preparations over loose herbs for online marketing. The results indicate that the incorporation of social media marketing aids a shift from herbs to herbal preparations in Sonoran traditional medicine markets. In short, social media use may act as a conditioning factor used by shopkeepers to promote herbal preparations and, in doing so, may provide a critical tool for the long–term survival of traditional plant markets, but at the risk of also contributing to the loss of the culture of home remedies and traditional domestic preparation of natural products.

Key Words

Ethnobotany selection medicinal plants social media marketing Sonora. 

La irrupción de tecnologías modernas en la medicina tradicional: Cómo los medios sociales guían la venta de productos vegetales tradicionales en la región del Desierto Sonorense

Porque la adquisición de tecnologías modernas en sistemas tradicionales tiene efectos desconocidos, examinamos la hipótesis que las redes sociales asisten a la población en la selección de vendedores o marchantes de hierbas y preparaciones de hierbas. Los marchantes de plantas medicinales en el sur de Sonora, México, fueron entrevistados acerca de su base de clientes y su estrategia de mercadotecnia. La mayoría, 85%, de los clientes fueron identificados como de ingreso bajo a medio por los propios marchantes, de la cuales siete de diecisiete incorporan redes sociales por medio del Internet en su estrategia de mercadotecnia. Los marchantes entrevistados seleccionaron preferencialmente preparaciones de hierbas más que hierbas sueltas para sus ventas en línea. Los resultados indican que la incorporación de redes sociales para apoyar las ventas impulsa un cambio de hierbas a preparaciones de hierbas en mercados de medicina tradicional en Sonora. En resumen, el uso de redes sociales puede funcionar como un factor condicionante usado por los marchantes para promover preparaciones de hierbas, y, al hacerlo, puede proveer una herramienta critica para la sobrevivencia de los mercados de plantas tradicionales en el largo plazo, pero al riesgo de también contribuir a la pérdida de una cultura de remedios de hogar y de preparación tradicional domiciliaria de productos naturales.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew J Semotiuk
    • 1
  • Nancy L Semotiuk
    • 2
  • Exequiel Ezcurra
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany and Plant SciencesUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communications and LanguagesWalla Walla UniversityCollege PlaceUSA

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