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.

4 Stakeholders and target markets

4.1 Introduction

Greenley and Foxall (1998) emphasise that the marketing literature typically focuses on only two stakeholder groups (consumers and competitors), arguing that this should be extended to include other key stakeholders. Freeman (1984) highlights the interdependence of organisations and their stakeholders, i.e. ‘any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organisation's objectives’ (p. 46). This definition emphasises the wide range of individuals, groups and organisations who/which might have an interest in social marketing programmes.

Hastings (2007) makes a similar point when he discusses ‘moving upstream’. Discussion of social marketing typically focuses on the individual or groups of individuals whose behaviour change is the aim of the programme or activity. The social marketing network, however, involves a whole range of organisations, and others, for the social marketer to engage with as additional target markets. This is a particular issue when considering both the policy development and service delivery aspects of social marketing, for example, influencing governmental bodies to implement legislation regarding food labelling or smoking bans or GPs to offer consumer-friendly family planning services.

When developing a marketing strategy for potential/actual collaborators, the same social marketing principles and practices apply. A fundamental question relates to the nature of the exchange, i.e. why should government introduce an environmental policy or a school agree to allocate resources to prevent bullying? To put it bluntly, ‘What's in it for them?’ or alternatively, how can we achieve goal congruence between the social marketer and these upstream organisations so that behavioural change can be achieved? Once we are clear as to the target market then strategies can be developed to persuade upstream audiences that a specific behavioural change will fulfil their own goals. Here a knowledge of organisational behaviour will aid in developing a marketing plan, for example, an appreciation of the complexity of the organisational decision-making process and the range of individuals involved; power relationships and political motivations. Relationship marketing strategies, which originally developed within an organisational marketing context, are more likely to predominate over the traditional marketing mix approach. Personal representation is a key element of the communication process. Understanding individuals, their organisational relationships and motivations is crucial to effective upstream social marketing.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371