- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0100
- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0100
Social marketing is a framework for the application of the marketing discipline to social issues and causes. It has emerged from the application of marketing theory and practice to meet the practical needs to scale up solutions to health and social puzzles around the world. It is a social change tool uniquely suited to achieve social benefits by designing integrated programs that meet individual needs for moving out of poverty, enabling health, improving social conditions, and having a safe and clean environment. Social marketing began as a practice and discipline in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many of its early applications were in developing countries to address public health and social crises including population control and infectious diseases. In the early 1970s, social marketing was formally described and was used to prevent chronic diseases and reduce risk behaviors in developed countries. The principles of social marketing are being applied in agencies around the world including the US Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States; the Department for International Development and the English Department of Health in the United Kingdom; KfW Entwicklungsbank in Germany; the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency; the Netherlands Government Ministry for Foreign Affairs; the Australian Ministry for Health and Ageing; and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, among others. Social marketing is included in national health promotion and disease prevention strategies in Australia and England. It meets the needs of Health 2020, the European policy for health and well-being, and Healthy People 2020, the 10-year national health objectives for the United States. Social marketing stands apart from other approaches to health promotion and disease prevention, environmental sustainability, safety and injury prevention, and other health and social puzzles by searching for population-level impacts that can be achieved through the use of marketing techniques. These techniques include segmenting audiences rather than treating everyone as the same, designing more relevant and useful products and services, realigning incentives and removing barriers to behavior change, improving access to healthier and more socially beneficial products and services, increasing opportunities to practice healthier and more environmentally sustainable behaviors, and using communication strategies to encourage and support positive behavior changes that ultimately benefit society as a whole. It is a dynamic discipline stretching to help people create solutions to health and social puzzles that are more effective, efficient, equitable, and sustainable than what we have today.
A number of textbooks offer the basic principles and approach of social marketing. Most adhere to a presentation that includes the following elements: using a people-focused approach to program development, conducting a situation analysis or environmental scan, differentiating and concentrating on specific population segments, conducting research with priority groups to develop programs that are relevant to their problems and circumstances, designing implementation programs using the marketing mix (see section on the Marketing Mix), instituting program implementation monitoring systems, and performing evaluations that emphasize behavioral outcomes. One of the earliest texts, Manoff 1985 describes social marketing as primarily involving the use of mass media in developing countries to address public health imperatives such as diarrheal diseases, family planning, and nutrition programs for mothers and children. It was among the first to view adopting new behaviors as part of the “product” offerings of social marketing programs. Kotler and Roberto 1989 lays out a systematic approach to marketing social change that involves ideas, practices, and tangible objects as the “social product.” Andreasen 1995 stresses the requirement to conduct research with people, and to “listen” before developing any programs and strategies. It also introduces the transtheoretical (or stages of change) model as an overarching way to segment people and tailor social marketing offerings to each group. The following textbooks provide similar overviews of the social marketing approach and offer examples that are weighed toward particular regions: Donovan and Henley 2010 (Australia); Hastings 2007 (Scotland); French, et al. 2010 (United Kingdom); and Lee and Kotler 2011 (United States), and thus provide better relevance and context for students in these countries. Lefebvre 2013 provides a broader view of social marketing to include changing markets, social innovation, and social theories of change; it weaves together much of the published literature on social marketing to present a more comprehensive survey of the theory and evidence base of the discipline.
Andreasen, A. R. 1995. Marketing social change: Changing behavior to promote health, social development, and the environment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
A seminal textbook that includes an introduction to social marketing principles and the presentation of a behavior change framework based on the stages of change model. It emphasizes listening to consumers throughout the process of creating and carrying out an effective social marketing strategy.
Donovan, R., and N. Henley. 2010. Principles and practice of social marketing: An international perspective. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Utilizes case studies drawn from Australian and international programs to present social marketing principles. The authors also advocate for social marketing to focus on changing the environment and policies.
French, J., C. Blair-Stevens, D. McVey, and R. Merritt, eds. 2010. Social marketing and public health: Theory and practice. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
Incorporates the contributions of a variety of authors to represent the social marketing discipline, mostly from a UK perspective. Its core themes stress the importance of starting from an audience perspective, and need for systematic planning to develop and implement effective social marketing programs.
Hastings, G. 2007. Social marketing: Why should the devil have all the best tunes? Oxford: Elsevier.
Includes the social marketing principles and a series of stand-alone case studies. Argues for social marketers to adopt a more relational approach to behavior change rather than one solely based on transactions. The author calls for social marketing that scrutinizes commercial marketing practices; also known as “critical marketing.”
Kotler, P., and E. L. Roberto. 1989. Social marketing: Strategies for changing public behavior. New York: Free Press.
Adapts marketing management techniques to social change: setting measurable objectives, conducting research among people from different target markets, creating the right “fit” between offerings and audience needs, managing service delivery in support of these offerings, mobilizing influence groups, and monitoring and evaluating social marketing programs.
Lee, N. R., and P. Kotler. 2011. Social marketing: Influencing behaviors for good. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Case studies from the United States and around the world are used to present the social marketing principles. The book focuses on the specific steps in planning and implementing programs to improve health, decrease injuries, and protect the environment.
Lefebvre, R. C. 2013. Social marketing and social change: Strategies and tools for improving health, well-being, and the environment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Covers the basic principles and approach and provides an evidence base and set of theoretical frameworks for social marketing. Attention is devoted to social change theories and community approaches, social technologies, the use of social marketing for dissemination and scaling up of evidence-based programs, and social innovation.
Manoff, R. K. 1985. Social marketing: New imperatives for public health. New York: Praeger.
Developing messages and using mass media approaches are the foundation of this approach. Includes case studies demonstrating the principles and outcomes of social marketing programs. The author also examines the economic, environmental, political, and social barriers to implementing social marketing programs and how to address them.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Worksite Health Promotion