Marketing Social Marketing in the Social Change Marketplace Alan R. Andreasen Journal of Public Policy & Marketing; Spring 2002 Article Review According to the author, Social Marketing can be defined as a process involving the design, implementation and control of social change programs aimed at increasing the acceptability of a social idea in one or more groups of target adopters as well as bringing about the desired behavioural change.
Even if the idea that is being marketed is accepted, social marketing is not successful till it is able to induce an action in the individual as well. Andreasen believes that social marketing is unique because it: 1. upholds the need for bringing about behavioural change 2. is extremely customer-driven 3. requires a high level of creativity and ingenuity Social marketing is in the growth phase of its product life cycle. It came into prominence with the family planning promotions of the 1960s.
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It was mentioned in the works of Kotler and Levy (1969) and Kotler and Zaltman (1971). It gained acceptance over the years and currently, it is taught at many business schools and conferences and seminars regarding the same are regularly held the world over. It has become a major vehicle in the process of promoting various health and safety issues that affect society such as smoking in public, immunization of children, wearing of seat belts and driving under the speed limit, AIDS awareness programs, education of the girl child, etc. Barriers and Obstacles
Andreasen, however, feels that social marketing runs the risk of not meeting its true potential because of several barriers. These barriers exist because of lack of a clear understanding of what exactly social marketing is and what benefits and services it has to offer. A systematic study carried out by the Social Marketing Institute identified four key problem areas: 1. Lack of awareness among top management: It was observed that leaders of various non-profit organizations and government agencies are unaware of social marketing and/or its potential in bringing about social change.
This resulted in promising campaigns not getting a good social marketing program to spread its message or an ill-prepared and under-implemented social marketing campaign being used. 2. Poor ‘brand positioning’ of social marketing: The actual concept of social marketing is not clear to many people because of various conflicting definitions and it is also associated with some undesirable attributes. For example, social marketing is perceived as being manipulative and not ‘community based’.
These prejudices have arisen because of incorrect assumptions that social marketing is similar to normal, commercial marketing. 3. Inadequate documentation and publicity of its successes: Though there have been many successes they have not been properly documented and effectively publicised so as to highlight social marketing’s potential as a valuable tool for bringing about social change. 4. Lack of academic stature: As of now, social marketing is taught rarely as a full academic course and most often it is just taught in a few sessions as part of a marketing, communications or public health course.
However, it is gaining prominence in academics and professional circles which is reflected in the growing number of studies and papers being written on the subject. But there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Solution The author puts forth an interesting solution to overcome the above-mentioned obstacles and make social marketing a part of public consciousness. Andreasen says that social marketers should apply their own technology to their own problems. He states that social marketing should be considered as a ‘brand’ that needs better marketing for it to gain a significant market share among individual change approaches.
Competition to Social Marketing The author mentions that an analysis of the different approaches to the social change process is necessary in order to determine how to market social marketing properly. Social marketing faces competition at five different levels which are mentioned as follows: 1. Generic competition: At this level it has to compete with lethargy and habit. A planned and systematic approach like social marketing has to face stiff resistance from programs, organisations and people who do not believe in such approaches.
Although increase in adoption of social marketing by enthusiastic managers would be of great help, bringing about such a change is, more or less, out of the scope of the field of marketing of social marketing. 2. Intervention-level competition: According to strategists, there are three societal levels at which social change can be brought about. First, there is change at the individual level where it is believed that individuals themselves must change in order to reduce problems like drunk driving or the spread of AIDS. This is the level at which social marketing primarily works.
Next, there is the community level. The motivation for change must arise at this level and his change then percolates down to the individual members. Third, there is change at the structural level. Its advocates state that real social change will be brought by changes in the laws and policies that govern us. 3. Subject-Market competition: Social problems and issues can be differentiated based on their subject matter and thus be classified as issues pertaining to health care, environment, law and order, social welfare, etc.
The agencies and organisations from each sector compete against each other for the best talents, funds, resources and public acceptance. Social marketing has achieved greater acceptance and success among some of these sectors such as healthcare and so the growth of these sectors will in turn promote the growth of social marketing. 4. Product competition: According to the author, at each level of social intervention, there exist broad tools that he labels as ‘products’. For example, Rothschild (1999) lays down three product categories ??? education, marketing, and the law.
Andreasen says that marketing is best suited at the individual intervention level and is a superior product since it induces voluntary personal change as compared to passing laws to force people to change or educating people and then hoping they will change. 5. Brand competition: At the individual intervention level, social marketing is just one of several ‘brands’ or approaches available to organisations to bring about social change. Growth of social marketing will depend upon its winning this ‘brand’ competition. In order to reach its maximum potential, Andreasen argues that marketing of ocial marketing should meet the challenges presented at the above-mentioned levels and show that it is better than its competitors. He states that there is a need for social marketing to have a well-defined competitive positioning which is lacking at the moment. For that, questions regarding the essence, need and aptness of social marketing need to be answered clearly. Usage of Social Marketing There are two basic criteria which govern as to when social marketing should be used: 1. Effectiveness: Social marketing should be used only when it can be predicted that it will be effective in that situation.
Analysis of past successes can be used to estimate the effectiveness of social marketing in those campaigns as compared to other factors or approaches and this data should be considered for planning for the best possible usage of social marketing. 2. Appropriateness: One also needs to consider what the best approach to the problem or issue is. For example, social marketing is usually inappropriate if the issue at hand is to be tackled at the community or structural level since social marketing is mainly an instrument of bringing about individual behaviour change.
Next, if individual level of intervention is to be used, one has to determine whether social marketing is the right ‘product’ to bring about the change. Similarly at the ‘brand’ level. Complementing the Competition When it comes to solving problems at the individual level, all social marketing has to do is to present itself as the best possible approach to bring about the social change. However, when the change is to be brought about at the community or structural level, social marketing is rarely used.
The author argues that social marketing can be used in such situations as well to complement the main approach rather than competing with it. For instance, social marketing can be of great help in targeting the key opinion leaders and decision makers such as community activist and politicians. Influencing the decision makers While marketing social marketing one has to keep in mind that the usage of social marketing lies in the hands of managers and leaders and so one should consider how to approach these decision-makers at each stage of the decision-making process: 1.
Precontemplation: At this stage, the decision makers do not consider the use of social marketing because of lack of awareness or some prejudices such as marketing being manipulative, shallow, unethical, repetitive and expensive. The best approach to influence people in this stage is to raise awareness about social marketing and it benefits and dispel the myths surrounding it. This is where the use of marketing tools comes into play to effectively market social marketing. 2.
Contemplation: At this stage, decision makers are considering social marketing. To get them on your side, the authors states that social marketers should highlight the BCOS factors i. e. point out the significant Benefits of social marketing, the low Costs as compared to the competition, prominent Others supporting its adoption, and the easy acquisition of Skills required by the adopter. 3. Preparation / Action: At this stage, decision-makers are convinced that social marketing is a good thing but have not yet begun a social campaign.
People in this stage just need a slight nudge in the right direction which can be provided by experienced social marketers and consultants who can reassure the hesitant implementers that social marketing is an easy-to-use and effective tool. 4. Maintenance: At this stage, decision-makers have tried social marketing but have not become its regular users. People at this stage need to be reminded about the correct decisions they have made earlier regarding the use of social marketing and the advantages of its continued use. Forums for documenting and publicizing past successes are of great importance at this stage.
Building blocks to success: Andreasen states that several initiatives need to be taken in order to promote social marketing. Some of these are: 1. Committed and extensive private sector involvement: Private agencies and organisations should offer their support to this growing field and treat it as an opportunity to show that marketing is not an evil practice but capable of working for social good. Professionals should come forth and volunteer their skills for social marketing campaigns. 2. Creation of academic programs: There is a need for academic programs at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to meet the rowing needs for social marketers. This will require creation of course materials, curriculum, scholarships, etc. 3. Further legitimization of social marketing as a scholarly field of study: Various steps need to be take to promote social marketing as a field of study and attract the interest of academia. These steps include providing awards and scholarships for doctoral candidates, creation of chairs in social marketing, identification of key research topics in this field, etc. Conclusion: Social marketing is at a crucial stage of it development process.
It needs to be marketed brilliantly in order to establish itself in public consciousness as the best ‘brand’ for bringing about individual change as well as a complement for community-level and structural-level change processes. Commercial marketers and academicians should extend their services for the benefit of this field in particular and society in general. References: 1. Social Marketing Institute http://www. social-marketing. org/ 2. On social marketing and social change http://socialmarketing. blogs. com/ 3. Social marketing ??? Wikipedia http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Social_marketing