Alan R. Andreasen
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing; Spring 2002
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. 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.
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...