Governments are increasingly investing scarce economic resources to change landholders’ behaviour in order to improve the management of natural resources. Landholders can respond to a policy initiative in a variety of ways, and only some of these responses are likely to be consistent with the objective of the policy. Consequently, a key concern for government in improving natural resource management is understanding and managing variety in landholders’ responses to policies. Our aim in this paper is to explore the application of marketing theories to better understand how variety emerges in landholders’ responses to policy initiatives. In this paper, we draw on consumer behaviour theory and use diffusion theory to provide a theoretical framework for identifying the factors that lead to diversity in responses to policy initiatives. We apply this theory to the case of landholders’ responses to natural resource policies and draw conclusions for the design of policies.