Theories and Models in Social Marketing
Reference: Lefebvre, RC (2000). In PN Bloom & GT Gundlach (Eds.), Handbook of Marketing and Society, Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Theories and models for social marketing abound, with little formal consensus on which types of models for what types of social problems in what kinds of situations are most appropriate. In defining what social marketing is, many authors include the notion of exchange theory to link it to its marketing roots (e.g., Kotler & Roberto, 1989; Lefebvre & Flora, 1988; Novelli, 1990). Other writers on the subject omit any mention of exchange theory, either in their definition of social marketing or its key elements (e.g., Andreasen, 1995; Manoff, 1985). Elliott (1991), in a review of the exchange concept’s place in social marketing, concludes that “[it] is either absent or obtuse” (page 157). Added to this confusion are other authors who refer to a “social marketing theory” (Gries, Black & Coster, 1995; Tomes, 1994). While authors such as Lefebvre & Rochlin (1997) and Novelli (1990) recognize the value of the exchange concept in describing social marketing, both hold open the idea that many other theoretical models may be applied in the actual development of social marketing programs. “Marketing is theory based. It is predicated on theories of consumer behavior, which in turn draw upon the social and behavioral sciences” (Novelli, 1990, p.343). In fact, this is what happens in the practice of social marketing. However, Walsh, Rudd, Moeykens & Maloney (1993) have noted that “professional social marketers tend to be broadly eclectic and intuitive tinkerers in their use of available theory (p. 115).” So while a review of theoretical models used in social marketing seems Theories and models in social marketing – Page 2
relevant to advance the field, it is also speculative as well. Many social marketers do not report on their work in professional journals or at conferences, and of those who do, only a few focus on the theoretical models that impacted their judgments on selection of target audiences, questions posed during formative research studies, strategies selected, how program elements were selected and developed, what outcomes were intended and how they were measured. The theories selected for review reflect the author’s own experience and interaction with a broad array of social marketers and social marketing programs. The theories also reflect a public health bias in that most social marketing programs in this field are usually designed by people with advanced degrees in social and behavioral science advancing public health goals – not by people with training in other fields such as business management or economics or focusing on other issues (environment, education, justice, for instance). As a benchmark, a review of the most commonly used theories and models in 497 health education/health promotion articles over a two-year period found that the health belief model, social cognitive theory, theory of reasoned action, community organization, stages of change and social marketing were the most frequent cited ones among the 67% of cases where theories or models were mentioned at all (Glanz, Lewis & Rimer, 1997, p. 29). While this review highlights the most commonly used theories among health educators, it is not necessarily reflective of which theories are utilized in social marketing programs. Given the caveats expressed earlier, this chapter will focus on the more commonly mentioned theories and models in social marketing programs including: health belief model, the related theory of reasoned action,, social cognitive theory, the transtheoretical model of behavior change (or "stages of change"), diffusion of innovations and an overview of other models/theories mentioned or used in specific contexts. Health Belief Model (HBM)
As noted above, this is one of the most widely used theories among public health practitioners, and many of its major tenets...
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