Social Marketing: A Success Story in Bangladesh
Mahbubur Rahman, MA, MBA 1 and
Toslim Uddin Khan, MA, MSS, MBA 2
Social Marketing Company (SMC) is the largest privately managed social marketing organization in the world for a single country. It is a significant contributor to the reproductive and child health services in Bangladesh. The on-going social marketing programs of SMC include family planning, child health, disease prevention and maternal and neonatal health. SMC's mission is to improve the quality of lives of vulnerable and less privileged population primarily in public health issues through sustainable social marketing efforts in collaboration with national and international governments and donors.
Social marketing is the application of commercial management techniques for popularizing and selling products and services that offer clear benefits to the people at prices they can buy. Thus, easy accessibility through wide availability and high affordability forms the key element of social marketing. The model of social marketing SMC adopted and continues to practice has two components - multi-strategy communications for initiating desired behavior change, and suitable, affordable, readily accessible product and service for sustaining the changed behavior using the techniques of commercial marketing.
Because of its remarkable success and its sheer size, social marketing in Bangladesh has become a model of best practices and attracted international attention. Two premier USA based graduate schools of business included the case study on social marketing program in Bangladesh in their curricula, which is an entire chapter of the renowned book titled “Let Every Child Be Wanted: How Social Marketing Is Revolutionizing Contraceptive Use Around the World” written by Philip D. Harvey. The case on SMC is also included in the “Asian Marketing Casebook” written by Noel Capon and Wilferied R. Vanhonacker. SMC is ISO 9001-2000 certified company. The company is awarded International Star Award for Leadership in Quality (ISLQ) in 2008 by the Business Initiative Directions (BID) a Madrid-based business organization committed to build better business reputation worldwide.
Contribution of SMC to the National Program
Social marketing of contraceptives and ORS has proven to be a major contributor to achievement of the health and population objectives of the Government of Bangladesh. Population science experts used three critical measures of contraceptive effectiveness - Total Fertility Rate (TFR)3, Couple Year of Protection (CYP)4 and Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR)5. Between 1975 and 2007, the total fertility rate of the country dropped from 6.3 to 2.7, and the overall contraceptive prevalence rate among currently married women rose from 8 percent to 56 percent, with modern contraceptive use at 48 percent (BDHS, 2007). SMC is significantly contributing in the modern contraceptive methods to achieve national contraceptive goals. BDHS shows that 35 percent of the modern contraceptive users use SMC brand contraceptives (four out of ten pill users, six out of 1
Head of Marketing, Social Marketing Company
Head or Research and MIS, Social Marketing Company
The average number of children that would be born alive to a woman (group of women) during her lifetime 4
It is estimated that one CYP is provided by 150 condoms or 15 oral pill cycles or 4 vials of injectables. 5
Contraceptive prevalence rate is defined as the percent of Married Women of Reproductive Age using family planning method.
ten condom users and two out of ten injectables users use SMC brand). According to the Consumers Retail Audit, SMC brand condoms have 81 percent share of the retail market while SMC brand OCP have 90 percent of retail market share (ACNielsen, 2008). SMC distributes approximately 100 million pieces of condoms, 40 million cycles of oral pills and one million vials of injectables annually through out the country.
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