Skip to content

Social marketing

Free Course Free Course

Never before have social issues been more at the centre of public and private debate. From concerns about sustainability and the future of the planet to the introduction of smoking bans, there is a growing recognition that social marketing has a role to play in achieving a wide range of social goals. This free course, Social marketing, examines the nature of social marketing and how the adoption of marketing concepts, frameworks and techniques developed for commercial marketers can be applied to the solution of social problems.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • describe and explain the meaning and nature of social marketing
  • analyse social marketing problems and suggest ways of solving these
  • recognise the range of stakeholders involved in social marketing programmes and their role as target markets
  • assess the role of branding, social advertising and other communications in achieving behavioural change.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 8 hours
  • Updated Thursday 11th February 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Business Studies
Share on Google Plus Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit View article Comments

Study this free course

Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!

The theories of reasoned action and planned behaviour

The extended Fishbein model, based on the theory of reasoned action, includes the following components to explain behaviour.

  1. Attitude to the behaviour comprising:

    • a. The strength of the expectancy (beliefs) that the act will be followed by a consequence.

    • b. The value of that consequence to the individual.

    This is the basic expectancy value approach. Returning to our previous smoking cessation example, if we expect that stopping smoking will result in health, wealth and happiness – and this is important to us – then we will develop a positive affect towards the behaviour of stopping smoking. There is, however, another dimension.

  2. Subjective norms (i.e. the socio-cultural norms of other persons, groups or society) and the individuals' desire/motivation to conform to these norms. Consequently, peer group and other pressures may reduce or enhance our attitudes towards stopping smoking. Ajzen (1985) later included:

  3. Perceived control (i.e. situational or internal obstacles to performing the behaviour). This addition has resulted in a new model – ‘the theory of planned behaviour’. Consequently, the power of addiction may impact on our attitudes and prevent us from trying to stop smoking.

A key question, for both commercial and social marketers, is: Why do actual behaviour and reported intentions often differ?

As discussed earlier, the purpose of social marketing is to effect behaviour change. Attitude models often record behavioural intentions rather than actual behaviour. One of the purposes of research is to assess how people will behave in the future, for example in response to new stimuli such as additional resources – help lines, clinics, etc. One of the problems, however, is that reported behavioural intentions often don't match up to actual behaviour.

Activity 4

List the reasons why you think that what people say they will do in answer to research questions is often very different to what they actually do.


There are many reasons. These may include:

  • Reasons due to the research process, e.g. telling the researcher what they want to know out of politeness.

  • Reasons due to the individual's wish to show themselves to be rational or a ‘good citizen’. They might, therefore, overstate intentions to reduce environmental emissions and understate intentions to use private transport.

  • They may genuinely intend to engage in the behaviour but situational factors intervene, e.g. they may not have the time to travel by public transport or there may be a bus strike.

Tags, Ratings and Social Bookmarking


Your rating None. Average rating 4.8 out of 5, based on 4 ratings