Social marketing

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Social marketing
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Social marketing is the use of marketing techniques and principles to change people's behavior. It is a process, concept, and application for seeing what people desire, who they are, and then organizing the communication, creation, and delivery of products and services to meet their wishes and needs of society and resolve social problems [1].

Defining social marketing

Social marketing was originally named, like other branches of marketing, such as industrial marketing or inter-company marketing, to refer to a specific marketing sub-area. In practice, it happened that modern marketing techniques developed for consumer products began to be used by other areas of activity, seeing the visible success of these techniques. These sub-disciplines were set because, although marketing principles and tools could be applied in different areas, the markets were very different for each of them. Marketers in these areas in addition to knowledge of marketing per se had to understand these markets. Therefore, we now have texts and courses entitled industrial or business-to-business marketing, financial services marketing, service marketing, government marketing or the public sector, sports marketing, marketing events, and even religious marketing. Social marketing came about when marketers and practitioners of social change began using marketing techniques to achieve socially desirable goals [2].

Social marketing is surprisingly long. It is origins date back to 1960. It only had a slight increase over the next two and a half decades, but it flourished in the 1990s because it focused more on behavior and gained acceptance and support from heavy institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, there is a danger today that it will be labeled as a downstream approach. Most observers and many practitioners see social marketing as an approach to influence people with 'bad behavior' - neglecting prenatal care, smoking, not recycling. However, this narrow view greatly underestimates the true potential of social marketing. Social marketing is about influencing the behavior of target audiences. Many other target audiences must act outside of "problematic people" if we are to solve serious social problems [3].

The goal is the good of the community

Social marketing is just one "branch" of marketing in which industries reflect the area of application, for example [4]:

  • business marketing
  • sports marketing
  • industrial marketing
  • non-profit marketing
  • religious marketing
  • political marketing

However, social marketing is more than applying marketing to social issues: the key difference to all other branches of marketing, is that the goals of social marketing relate to the well-being of the community, while for all other goals the marketer relates to the well-being of the marketer (members and donations, sales and profits, political representation). If the good of the community is not the goal, it is not social marketing. Social marketing is about helping to achieve and maintain the desired social change. Sometimes social changes occur unplanned and generally have a mild or even positive impact, such as the introduction of a printing press, telephone or worldwide network. In other cases, the changes may be rapid, as in the French and Russian revolutions in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, respectively, or have devastating health effects, such as in the underground extraction and dangerous acts of the industrial revolution. Therefore, social markers and other practitioners of social change are invited to use their skills not only to achieve socially desirable change but also to counteract the undesirable social change.


  1. D.W. Stewart. 2015. p.22
  2. R.Donovan,N.Henley. 2010. p.4
  3. A.R.Andreasen. 2006. p.vii
  4. R.Donovan,N.Henley. 2010. p.1


Author: Magdalena Domalik