Consider the following questions.
In trying to change the behavior of vulnerable segments of our societies, why not use the same approach that fuels the successful global expansion of fast food chains (contributing to the current obesity and diabetes epidemics)? Why should the “devil” have all the best tunes?
In a nutshell, social marketing is a discipline that integrates knowledge from marketing and related disciplines on human behavior (like psychology, economics and anthropology) to inspire the creation of social programs that deliver value and change the behavior of individuals and segments of societies, increasing societal well-being as a result.
Social marketing enrich social programs by adding a unique value proposition: the ability to conjugate the understanding of human behavior with the use of the same techniques, principles and knowledge that companies employ to succeed in the marketplace (such as segmentation, branding and consumer research).
Social marketing builds a deep knowledge of social program’s targets from bottom-up, from understanding their values, beliefs, attitudes, and the barriers that prevents them from performing the intended behavior.
Since it was christened in 1971 as a legitimate offspring of mainstream marketing, social marketing has been employed with success to deal with varying social problems, such as improving health, protecting the environment, fighting diseases like HIV, decreasing the use of tobacco, and reducing poverty all over the world. Nowadays, it is a mature discipline and integrates the repertoire of several governments and other important social actors.
Maybe this talk reminds you of behavioral economics.
Behavioral economics has gained a deserved reputation over the last years, due to the Nobel Prize conceded to Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky and due to excellent books from academic stars such as Dan Ariely and Richard Taller (“Nudge”). It has shattered the concept of homo economicus, the idea that human beings are rational and powerful processing machines with predictable preferences. We must use their evidence-based insights on interventions to tackle complex social problems. But we should go further and use their findings under a more encompassing approach. That approach, that umbrella, with an incredible track of success in overcoming social problems is social marketing.
Social marketing also offers a kind of “portable” framework that can be employed to target social actors in charge of structural roles. In other words, most social problems have causes whose roots are distant from the individual level of behavior. Social change happens as a result of the interplay of several factors, many of them depending on the behavior of actors such as politicians, media professionals, pundits and the like. The flexible social marketing framework can help the mission of targeting them to create change at a broader and enduring level.
Did you know that?