Social marketing

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(Redirected from Societal marketing)

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.

Examples of Social marketing

  • Vaccine campaigns: Vaccine campaigns are a great example of social marketing. Governments and health organizations use social marketing to promote vaccination, educate the public about the importance of immunization and increase rates of immunization across the population.
  • Tobacco cessation: Tobacco cessation campaigns are another great example of social marketing. Governments and health organizations use social marketing to educate the public about the dangers of smoking and to encourage people to quit.
  • Road safety: Road safety campaigns are a great example of social marketing. Governments and health organizations use social marketing to raise awareness of road safety and to encourage people to drive more safely.
  • Nutrition: Nutrition campaigns are a great example of social marketing. Governments and health organizations use social marketing to encourage healthy eating habits and to educate the public about the importance of a balanced diet.
  • Environmental protection: Environmental protection campaigns are a great example of social marketing. Governments and health organizations use social marketing to raise awareness of environmental issues and to encourage people to be more eco-friendly.

Advantages of Social marketing

Social marketing is a powerful tool for driving change in people’s behavior and can help to address a range of social issues. The advantages of social marketing include:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Social marketing campaigns are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional marketing campaigns, making them more accessible to smaller organizations and individuals.
  • Engagement: Social marketing campaigns engage the public in a two-way dialogue, allowing for better communication between organizations and their target audiences.
  • Targeted Reach: Social marketing campaigns can target specific groups and individuals, ensuring that they reach the right people.
  • Impact: Social marketing campaigns can have a real impact on people’s behavior and can help to create long-term, positive change.
  • Flexibility: Social marketing campaigns can be adapted and changed quickly, allowing them to remain relevant and timely.
  • Scalability: Social marketing campaigns can be scaled up or down to meet changing needs and demands.

Limitations of Social marketing

Social marketing has its limitations, and some of these are:

  • Lack of comprehensive data: Social marketing campaigns often lack comprehensive data on their target audiences, which can lead to an ineffective strategy.
  • Limited budgets: Many social marketing campaigns are limited by budgets, meaning that they may not be able to reach all of their intended audiences.
  • Limited time: Social marketing campaigns are often short-term in nature, meaning that they may not have enough time to make an impact.
  • Difficulty measuring results: Social marketing campaigns may be difficult to measure, as they often involve intangible results such as attitude and behavior changes.
  • Difficulty engaging certain audiences: Some audiences may be difficult to engage with social marketing campaigns, as they may not have the necessary education or knowledge to understand the messages.
  • Difficulty competing with other messages: Social marketing campaigns may have difficulty competing with other messages in the marketplace, as there are often a large number of competing messages.

Other approaches related to Social marketing

  • Social media marketing: This approach uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to reach out to potential customers and build an online presence for the company.
  • Influencer marketing: This approach involves leveraging the power of influential people and celebrities to endorse a product or service and spread awareness about it.
  • Content marketing: This approach involves creating and sharing content such as videos, blogs, and podcasts to engage customers and build loyalty.
  • Experiential marketing: This approach involves providing customers with engaging experiences that they can connect with emotionally.
  • Cause marketing: This approach involves partnering with a cause or charity to promote the company’s products or services with the aim of creating social good.

In summary, social marketing is a powerful tool for driving behavior change, and there are a number of different approaches that can be used to reach potential customers and increase brand visibility. These include social media marketing, influencer marketing, content marketing, experiential marketing, and cause marketing.


  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

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Author: Magdalena Domalik