Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Social marketing
Social marketing

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1 Course overview

Never before have social issues been more at the centre of public and private debate than at the present. From concerns about sustainability and the future of the planet to the introduction of smoking bans, from actions to combat ‘binge drinking’ and childhood obesity to programmes designed to prevent the spread of AIDS in developing countries, there is a growing recognition that social marketing has a role to play in achieving a wide range of social goals. In the UK, for example, the National Social Marketing Centre (NSMC) has recently been established by the Department of Health and the National Consumer Council [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . You may wish to visit the website at (accessed 9 May 2008), which illustrates the interest in social marketing and health issues.

From May 2008 the Open University Business School is offering a new course: B324 Marketing and society. It includes three main areas: social marketing (40 per cent of the course), marketing ethics (30 per cent of the course) and responsible business marketing (30 per cent of the course).

This OpenLearn course 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. Primarily, social marketing aims to effect behavioural change in the pursuit of social goals and objectives, as opposed to financial or other objectives. Two journal articles, ‘Broadening the Concept of Marketing’ by Kotler and Levy (1969), and ‘Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change’ by Kotler and Zaltman (1971) generated early interest in the subject. Since then a growing body of research and theoretical development has focused on effecting behavioural change across a range of social issues.

This course focuses on four key questions:

  1. Why is a social marketing approach relevant and necessary in today's environment?

  2. How can an understanding of consumer/human behaviour help to develop appropriate actions and interventions?

  3. Who are the target markets for social marketing programmes?

  4. What is the role of marketing communications and branding in achieving behavioural change?

The aims of this course are to:

  • explore how marketing concepts and techniques can be applied to the marketing of social issues as opposed to the more traditional area of commercial marketing;

  • examine how social marketing approaches can change behaviour in order to achieve socially desirable goals;

  • illustrate, through case study examples, the application of concepts and techniques to ‘real world’ social marketing problems.