Social marketing
Social marketing

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2.3 Reasons for social marketing

Your thoughts should already have suggested reasons why social marketing can be an effective approach to dealing with social problems and issues. We will now consider some of these and also arguments against the use of marketing within this context. Three key reasons for adopting a social marketing approach are:

  1. The power of marketing – The power of marketing principles and techniques in the hands of the commercial sector cannot be denied. Most of us, including very young children, recognise logos and brand names, even for products which we never buy. These symbols occupy our minds and form part of our socio-cultural context. Many of us will spend our hard-earned money by paying well above the functional utility price of a product in order to acquire a specific brand name which means something to us. Consider, for example, how branding plays a role in our choice of foodstuffs, soap powder, clothing, watches and cars. Communication through the various media is clearly very powerful, consequently it would seem negligent, to say the least, not to adapt this power to society's good. As Gerard Hastings' (2007) book title says – ‘Why should the Devil have all the best tunes?’

  2. Track record/evidence – There are many examples of social marketing applications which have been successful in achieving positive behavioural change. We will look at some of these throughout the course.

  3. Not an option – As Kotler and Levy (1969) argue in their article, ‘the choice … is not whether to market or not to market … The choice is whether to do it well or poorly’ (p. 15).

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