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Social Marketing: Teenage Obesity

By ptinberg Oct 15, 2013 3813 Words

Mark320 Assessment 2
Background to Social Issue
Physical Inactivity amongst youth

Josh Peters, Per Tinberg, Jacob Harding, Jacob Smith

Table Of Contents

1. Target Audience
2. Understanding of the problem and detailing the current issues 3. Description and critique of the previous attempts at behaviour modification 4. Identification and explanation of appropriate guiding theory 5. References

1. Target Audience

15-18 year old school students male or female from the Illawarra of all socio-economic backgrounds that are seeking to be more physical active.

To determine our target audience for the campaign we need to conduct research so we knew our strengths, weakness, threats, opportunities we may have, the focus of our campaign and most importantly the purpose of our campaign which is to curve obesity and to get people more young people physically active. To determine the target for our campaign we followed a three step process which involved segmentation, evaluation and then selection. The process of defining and subdividing a large homogeneous market into clearly identifiable segments having similar need or wants or demanded characteristics. (Business Dictionary)

1. Segmentation of the market
New South Wales
Kids, young adults
Male, Female
Of any age under 21
Of any Race/ Nationality
Of any income level
Any education level
Of any Social Class (Lower, Middle, Upper)
All lifestyles (athletes to academics to curious kids)
All personality’s welcomed
First timers, regular occasions and special occasions
The befits of exercise
The quality of of being outside
Anyone wanting a more social lifestyles
Positive and negative attitude towards the service

Diffusion of innovation is an important process in the segmentation and influencing the behaviour of large groups. Diffusion refers to the the spread of adoption of new behaviours through the population and its applicability to social marketing. Innovation research shows that the types of adopters (Target Market) accept an innovation at a different points in time.(Lee & Kolter 2011)

Hypothetical Size

Sequence of Adoption
Motivation for Adoption
Training for sports/ field of expertise
Early adaptor
To have a fit and healthy lifestyle
Early majority
The change there lifestyle and habits
Late majority
Join the band wagon and tackle the social issue
Conformity, make a necessary change

With our campaigns focus on the changing social behaviour of kids becoming more active through physical exercise, his table hypothetical represents how we would like our campaign to to adopted by our target market.

2. Evaluation
Now the market is segmented into groups, the next step is to evaluate potential segments that could be used as a target audience. Andreasen cites nine factors for evaluating segments relative to each other and these nine steps were using in determining our target audience. In our campaign we focussed on a few of these factors to determine our most meaningful segment and eventuating into the target audience for the campaign.

Segment size: The Illawarra has a population of 275,983 in the year 2011 with 136,180 being males and 139,803 being female. In this number the population of people aged between 15-19 years in 19,023. 6.9% represents the number of 15-19 year olds in the Illawarra population.

Problem incident: It is recommended that young children should be doing 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Only 55% of males aged 15-18 are doing this and only 50 % of female are meeting this requirement. Therefore this shows that almost half of our target audience are not engaging in the required level. Our goal is to change the behaviours of young teenagers and get them involved in at least 60 minutes of physical activity everyday and increase the number of 15-18 years doing daily physical exercise to over 70% of the target population.

Reachability: Our audience can be easily reached as we are targeting 15-18 year olds these kids are very technology aware. Our audience will be reached by social media because of the mediums high frequency, such as Facebook and twitter. Our target audience can also be reached by having posters hung up around schools of the Illawarra this will increase awareness of physical exercises which can take form in any sport, and this will also increase awareness by kids spreading the information around by word of mouth.

General responsiveness: Our target market 15-19 is at the age where teenagers begin to make decisions by themselves. If we implement our campaign correctly by make it look fun, more of social gathering our target audience will be more inclined to participate as they can have fun and spend time with their friends. We can expose a large number of teenagers that are willing to participate in physical activity, this is because 15-19 year olds are very conscious about there appearance and if they think doing exercise will help their appearance and self esteem they will engage in the social behaviour.

3. The selection on the target audience
The target segmentation undergone has now identified relevant segments for our campaign. The evaluation process has sourced information on each segment that has allowed us to take the next step in decided on which segment and how many segments will be used in the target audience for campaign.

A Differentiated Marketing approach is the the most suitable technique to use as we can develop strategies for different segments of our target audience. This approach includes putting resources to priority segments. Our campaign will benefits from this strategy because or segments are clearly defined, distinguishable and we know our behaviours we are try to create and change with our target audience.(Lee & Kolter 2011) Therefore this is why we choose 15-18 year old school students male or female from the Illawarra of all socio-economic backgrounds that are seeking to be more physical active as our target audience.

2. Understanding of the problem and detailing the current challenges

The problem of obesity in youth has a substantial and far reaching impact on the Australian population as a whole and if not given appropriate attention by society the ongoing health issues will be increasingly prevalent. NSW Health 2008 revealed that “Children as young as 15 years have risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels, putting them at risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes” (Sesiahs, 2008).

Children between the ages of 15 and 18 years old are recommended to engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day in order to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle (Department of health and ageing, 2004). Many children do not get enough physical activity, with a survey showing 25% of boys and 35% of girls were physically inactive and that inactive children were far more likely to carry this behaviour on throughout adulthood (Booth et al, 2002). It is due to this statistic that action must be taken to improve the levels of physical activity being undertaken by youth in the Illawarra in order to prevent future societal issues.

When looking at the issue of obesity and in particular lack of physical activity, we must identify the factors contributing to the high prevalence in the Illawarra region. By the age of 15 children are beginning to become much more independent from their parents in terms of decision making skills and team sports as well as other forms of exercise are a personal responsibility. From year 10 in schools, the amount of compulsory physical exercise is reduced and sport, as well as PDHPE classes is offered by choice. It is becoming more common that children of the age 15-18, in their final years of school are making the decision to stay clear of these sporting and PE based courses and maintain a more sedentary lifestyle. This in school period is one area, which we must target in order to turn around the surprisingly high rate of youth obesity.

A commonly seen issue with in school participation of team sports or any form of physical activity is the effect on social status and the constant need for acceptance amongst peers. This is a challenge that must be addressed through a social marketing campaign in order to break down this major barrier between youth and physical fitness. A child who is not a natural athlete may feel insecure about their body or their ability to perform certain physical tasks and therefore will continue to avoid activity even beyond their school years often leading to a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle well into adulthood. Through breaking this habit early, mainly during our targeted age group of 15-18, there is a much greater chance of a flow on effect of health and fitness conscious people in future generations which is positive for the community at large.

Research has been conducted resulting in the finding that there is a ‘critical window’ of time between 3.30 and 6.30pm after school wherein the level of physical activity is an overall determinant of physical activity and sedentary behaviour (Ridley et al, 2005). It is common amongst our target age group of 15-18 years that during this critical window the primary activities participated in consist of watching TV shows and playing video games rather than any form of physical exercise. “One in four kids spend seven hours watching TV or surfing the web for every hour they spend outside and, according to University of Wollongong health researcher Dr Dylan Cliff, less than half of school aged children meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day” (Butler, 2013). This gives us a specific time in which we know children are not meeting their specific needs in terms of physical exertion and therefore a behaviour change is necessary for this target market.

A major challenge when dealing with children is that they may often be resistant to listen to governing bodies or rulings by certain authority as it takes away from their feeling of independence as they grow. This is a challenge for a social marketing campaign, as it needs to somehow work around this issue and find a way to encourage a behaviour change in the target audience without seeming completely authoritarian in action. One way of doing this may be to aim efforts primarily at parents and ensure they are fully aware of the health implications of physical inactivity for youth thus pushing a healthier lifestyle for the entire household.

Another major problem associated with physical inactivity amongst children is the difficulty involved with measuring the problem. Physical inactivity at a young age is not always associated with obesity but can still carry health problems for individuals during adulthood if not addressed early. Therefore children who may seem to look ‘sporty’ or active may in fact be at just as high risk of adulthood obesity as a larger child.

3. Description and Critique of the Previous Attempts at Behaviour Modification Previous and current attempts at curbing teenage obesity are aimed at persuading and changing unhealthy behaviours of their target. Most initiatives aren’t specifically aimed towards a specific age demographic and certainly not a teenage group between the ages of 15-18 years of age but rather are aimed towards ‘school kids’ or ‘young people’. In order for most health initiatives to work it is important that the demographic of the target market is clearly defined, and this is of extra importance in this case due to the vast differences between the different age groups of children and adolescents. One initiative which has been implemented previously is the ‘Live Outside the Box’ campaign that challenges both teenagers and other young people to record over a 1 or 2 week period activities that they have been involved with which would contribute to weight gain. Essentially it aims at making those involved think about the unhealthy activities they do throughout the day and challenges them to think carefully about the repercussions that come from not being active. The title of the campaign is a throwaway line about how people are so connected to their televisions and computers and it seeks for those involved to use such technologies sparingly. This campaign has been seen to be relatively successful through its large participation rates with 63 thousand students taking part between the years of 2004-2008(Unknown, 2007). The campaign itself isn’t so much based around awarding those for their participation in sport or in physical activities, but rather it gets the audience to think about how inactivity and bad lifestyle factors can attribute to poor health and as such it creates a platform for people to be active. The major irony in the ‘Live Outside the Box’ campaign is the fact that so much of the information that people rely on to be healthy and physically active comes through the internet so in order for people to be informed about such campaigns and the information it provides these people must spend time on their computers. However the limited time in which these people are researching such information should be outweighed by their practical use of the information they receive. The campaign and its website provided a platform for other health initiatives and worked in conjunction with promotions such as the ‘Go for 2&5’ campaign that promotes the consumption of 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables (department of health and ageing, 2008). The ‘Get Moving’ campaign (See Appendix 1) is another example of a campaign that is aimed at promoting the benefits of physical activity and in turn attempts to change some unhealthy behaviours of young people. This campaign was run in 2006 and was done so through an advertising platform where it ran television, internet, and web-based advertisements. It involved having a talking and a moving couch as an icon that told the listeners to “get moving”. It was a campaign that was aimed at a wide audience, being from the ages of 0-17 years of age. The image of the couch was used as it symbolises laziness, and the idea that young people are wasting much of their time sitting around on the couch and it is this form of laziness that seeks to get kids active. It was aimed to be a catchy advertisement that gave people the desire to get up and be active. In theory it had a large amount of potential, as it provided some basic information on the benefits of exercising as well as giving people the amount of time each day with which they should do so. It was promoted directly through the same platform with which they were seeking to stray young people from, and this can be seen to be either advantageous or have the potential to simply get lost in all the other advertisements and television shows that were on at the time. It is somewhat difficult to measure the overall effectiveness of this particular campaign due to it being hard to measure the overall increase or decrease in kinds being more active. It was found that there was no increase in participation rates for sports during the time which this campaign was run which would indicate that it wasn’t a success, however through surveys undertaken it was found that there was a high recall rate for the campaign amongst children, teenagers and parents and that a high portion of children and teenagers claimed that it did prompt them to be more active (84% for teenagers) and this indicates that the campaign did achieve some success (Woolcott research, 2007). One would argue that although this campaign did have some good results in terms of it making young people more aware as to the need to be active, and that it reached a large audience the fact that it didn’t increase the overall participation rate for sporting activities and the fact that the campaign was quite a short one indicates that it was nowhere near as effective as it could have been. Other campaign that promote physical activities in schools include the use of sporting competitions. Between schools in Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo three of the High Schools run a competition called the ‘Astley Cup’ and it involves competing amongst each other in a large range of sports including hockey, soccer, rugby league, tennis and more (Unknown, 2013). This particular competition is very important amongst the schools involved as well as the towns and it is successful in promoting physical activity and the ideas of participating as a team and working together towards goals. Although it is not a specific example of social marketing, it is a more local look at how schools are participating in the promotion of physical activities through sporting competitions.

4. Identification and explanation of appropriate guiding theory

Behaviour Change Theory
When looking to change behaviour, information on target audience barriers, benefits and the competition will help but may not be enough. It helps to also have an understanding of underlying behaviour change theories (Lee & Kotler 2011). When discussing changing the behaviour of teenagers and encouraging them to exercise more, the Health Belief Model is relevant and can be useful in developing strategies and messages aimed at increasing exercise levels. The Health Belief Model is a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviours. It states that the perception of a personal health behaviour threat is itself influenced by at least three factors: general health values, which include interest and concern about health; specific health benefits about a vulnerability to a particular health threat; and beliefs about the consequences of the health problem (Lee & Kotler 2011). Once the individual perceives the threat to his/her health and is cued into action, the benefits of exercising outweigh the costs they will face (Lee & Kotler). The Health Belief Model is useful for the target market who are at risk of serious health issues associated with being overweight but do not perceive the risk. There are several key descriptors included in the Health Benefit Model that social marketers will face when communicating to teenagers the importance of exercise. Challenges occur due to the fact teenager’s perceived susceptibility to weight related health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems are low and their attitude is that these serious health risks do not apply to them (O’Dea 2010). Another challenge that social marketers face when communicating with teenagers is that not all obese adolescents perceive their weight as being excessive, unusual or undesirable (O’Dea 2010) and the perceived seriousness regarding teenage obesity and exercise is another key descriptor of the Health Benefit Model that must be understood when communicating with the target segment. The perceived benefit of taking action is another key descriptor and is more straightforward for teenagers as the benefit of exercising is more obvious and the effects are noticeable. Whilst the benefits of exercising are noticeable and improve various aspects of a teenagers wellbeing, the barriers to taking action are significant with only fourteen per cent engaged in the 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity daily (Roth 2011). There are several barriers that teenagers face when exercising, such as internal factors: not being good at it, insecure about appearance, physical complaints and not having the time (Deforche et al. 2006). There are also external barriers that may have an impact on teenagers exercising habits as well, with the promotion of physical activity, sport and PE within schools important in changing attitudes about exercising and promoting it in a positive way (O’Dea 2010). Developing creative strategies that cue the individual to action are important as teenagers exercise more after becoming aware of the seriousness of obesity and recognize that forming healthy habits at an age when more decisions are made without any external influences is key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle into adult life. The individual’s perception of their body image is also important to understand when developing communication and strategies to engage teenagers in more exercise. Whilst every teenager has a different perception of a healthy body, the attitudes of school peers will also have an impact on body image and self-esteem. The attitudes of family, teachers, school environment and community factors such as the media and advertising all play a role in the way teenagers view healthy weight (O’Dea 2010). Social marketers also need to have an understanding of the culture, social norms and stigma about weight and shape in order to effectively apply the Health Belief Model (Daniel 2001). The key of applying the model is not communicating to teenagers that they are unhealthy and lazy as they have already been stigmatized because of their size, but providing the benefits that teenagers can enjoy by exercising more regularly in a non-threatening, positive environment where there is no threat of being bullied and teased (Daniel 2001). It is important when applying this model to do prior research on each of the forces (susceptibility, seriousness, benefits, barriers and perceptions of effective “cues to action”) before developing the strategies of the campaign (Lee & Kotler 2011). By having an understanding of teenagers attitudes towards exercise and what barriers they encounter are, a more effective strategy to change the behaviour can be implemented that can reach the target audience on a more relevant level.


1. 2013. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 September 2013].

2. Booth ML, Okely AD, Chey T, Bauman AE, Macaskill P. Epidemiology of physical activity participation among New South Wales school students. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2002;26(4):371-4.

3. Ridley K, Olds T, Dollman J. Young people’s use of time during the critical window period (3.30pm-6.00pm) on school days. J Sci Med Sport. 2005;8(4):202.

4. Australian Government, department of health and ageing, 2004. Australia’s Physical Activity Recommendations for 12-18 year olds, [ONLINE] Available at:$File/youth_phys.pdf. [Accessed 09 September 13].

5. Butler, J, 2013. Lack of Trust Keeping Kids inside:Survey. Illawarra Mercury, 08 July. 6. Unknown 2007, Q4: Live Outside the Box What is Q4?, Q4: Live Outside the Box, viewed 7 September 2013, 7. The Go For 2&5 Campaign 2008, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, viewed 7 September 2013,

8. Woolcott Research 2007, Evaluation of the National ‘Get Moving’ Campaign, Walcott Research, viewed 7 September 2013,$File/getmoving-eval-jul07.pdf

9. Unknown 2013, ‘Bathurst Win Astley Cup 2013,’ Western Advocate, 13 June, viewed 7 Spetember 2013,

10. Lee N & Kolter P 2011 Social Marketing 4th Edition, Sage Publication, California 2013, Census for a brighter future, accessed 9/09/2013


12. 2013, Business Dictionary, accessed 9/09/.2013

13. O’Dea, J A 2010, ‘Studies of obesity, body image and related health issues among adolescents: How can programs in schools interact with and complement each other?’, Journal of Student Wellbeing, vol.4, pp 3-16.

14. Daniel, K 2001, ‘Tackling teenage obesity’, Community Practitioner, vol.74, no.12 15. Lee, N R & Kotler, P 2011, Social Marketing Influencing behaviours for good, Sage, LA.

16. Roth, E 2011, Teen Obesity In Australia, Livestrong, accessed 7/9/13,

17. Deforche, B, Haerens, L, de Bourdeaudhuij, I 2011, How to make overweight children exercise and follow the recommendations, accessed 7/9/13,

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