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Concept And Theories Of Social Marketing

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In 1971, Kotler and Zaltman described social marketing as “application of marketing practices to nonprofit and social purposes. ” Social marketing plans and implements social change by persuading the target audience to adopt a certain idea or practice. It includes individuals adopting a new behavior, dismissing an unfavorable behavior, making changes in their current behavior and dismissing former behavior that was unfavorable (Kotler & Lee, 2008). Social marketing tries to change the attitude and behavior of individuals (Kotler & Armstrong, 1994; Coreil, Bryant, Henderson, Forthofer & Quinn, 2001; Rothschild, 1999).

There are several theories connected to social marketing, the traditional one being the 4 P’s, which stands for product (tangible or intangible product which meets a specific customer need), price (the actual amount the consumer pays for the product), place (the way the product will be available to the consumer) and promotion (marketing communication techniques, e. g. advertising) (Kotler & Roberto, 1971). Lauterborn (1990) further improved on this theory by introducing the 4 C’s theory, which describes the consumer needs and wants (what the consumer actually wants to buy), cost to satisfy (also includes, e. g. cost of time to get to the store), convenience to buy (it is important to know the target audience and their preferred way of buying) and communication (two-way dialogue between the consumer and the brand or organization). Lefebvre and Flora also support this claim and state the orientation to consumer needs is one of the main contributions of social marketing (Lefebvre & Flora, 1988). Another social marketing theory is the theory of reasoned action, developed by Fishbein and Ajzen (1980). The key component is the individual’s behavioral intention. Their behavior is determined by individual’s attitude towards the behavior and the subjective norms associated with the behavior. Behavioral beliefs are influenced by external variables, for example demographics and attitudes, as well as by the outcome of that behavior which eventually leads to attitude. Individual’s normative beliefs (do others approve or disapprove of my behavior?) and their motivation to comply leads to subjective norms. Both the attitude and the subjective norms then lead to the individual’s intention to perform the behavior and to the end behavior (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2008; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). From this theory, the theory of planned behavior was introduced as an improvement. The key components of this theory are behavioral attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control. Behavioral attitude is about the consequences the individual believes his/her behavior will have.

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For example, if the expected outcome of performing a behavior is positive, the individual will also hold a positive attitude towards that behavior which in turn makes it more likely he/she will take action. Subjective norms describe what others think of the individual’s behavior. For example, what will my family or friends think of me performing this behavior, will they hold a positive or a negative attitude towards it? The third element is the perceived behavioral control which means does the individual believe he/she can perform the behavior, and will there be any help or obstacles along the way? These three elements then influence individual’s intention to perform the behavior, for example if the attitude is positive, they are more likely to have the intention to perform the behavior which ultimately leads to them successfully performing that behavior (Ajzen, 1991). Next theory used in social marketing is the transtheoretical model theory developed by Prochaska and DiClemente in 1977. The theory is comprised out of six stages of change, namely precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination. Precontemplation means individuals do not plan on taking action in the next six months, e. g. due to lack of information about the consequences of their behavior. Contemplation means that individuals plan on taking action in the next six months and are more informed about the positives and negatives of changing their behavior. The preparation stage is where individuals plan on taking action in the next month and they already have a plan of action, e. g. visiting a therapist. Action stage means individuals have made significant changes to their behavior in the last six months. Maintenance is where individuals made changes to their behavior and want to avoid relapsing.

The last stage, termination, is when individuals have no temptation and 100 percent self-efficacy and will not return to their old behavior (Glanz, Rimer & Viswanath, 2008; Prochaska & Velicer, 1997). Luck (1969) objected to the idea of social marketing because the “exchange-of-value” is lost by the product being replaced. Furthermore, other concerns about social marketing are that it is unethical due to marketers having social power and, in a way, controlling people’s thoughts. It also lacks control and regulation (Laczniak, Lusch & Murphy, 1979). Another concern by Luthra (1988) is so-called disempowerment meaning the right audience is not reached.

For example, in Bangladesh, mass media channels are only available to men and the urban elite meaning women are not reached. Furthermore, social marketing does not address the user’s needs and concerns (Luthra, 1988; Levy & Stokes, 1987). Social marketing has; however, seen success in public health campaigns, for example in Egypt, a social marketing campaign, successfully made 90 percent of mothers aware of the dangers of dehydration while that number was at 32 percent before the campaign. Furthermore, in Kenya, a social marketing campaign, about Kenga condoms saw an increase of 14 percent of users in one year (Radnitz, Beezhold & DiMatteo, 2015; Sherris, Kavenholt & Blackburn, 1985; Black & Harvey, 1976).


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