Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, when Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society., Kotler says, “The social marketing concept holds that the organization’s task is to determine the needs and wants and interests of target markets and to deliver the desired satisfaction more effectively and efficiently than competitors in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer’s and society’s well being”.
The social or societal marketing is thus related to the determination of social needs and wants vis – a – vis subserving their interests which is possible when marketers make possible a fair blending of social and commercial considerations in tune with the holistic concept of management.
Like commercial marketing, the primary focus is on the consumer–on learning what people want and need rather than trying to persuade them to buy what we happen to be producing. Marketing talks to the consumer, not about the product. This refers to decisions about 1) the conception of a Product, 2) Price, 3) distribution (Place), and 4) Promotion.
These are often called the “Four Ps” of marketing. Social marketing also adds a few more “P’s.
The social marketing “product” is not necessarily a physical offering. A continuum of products exists, ranging from tangible, physical products, to services (e.g., medical exams), practices and finally, more intangible ideas (e.g., environmental protection). In order to have a viable product, people must first perceive that they have a genuine problem, and that the product offering is a good solution for that problem. The role of research here is to discover the consumers’ perceptions of the problem and the product, and to determine how important they feel it is to take action against the problem.
“Price” refers to what the consumer must do in order to obtain the social marketing product. This cost may be monetary, or it may instead require the consumer to give up intangibles, such as time or effort, or to risk embarrassment and disapproval. If the costs outweigh the benefits for an individual, the perceived value of the offering will be low and it will be unlikely to be adopted. However, if the benefits are perceived as greater than their costs, chances of trial and adoption of the product is much greater.In setting the price, particularly for a physical product, such as contraceptives, there are many issues to consider. If the product is priced too low, or provided free of charge, the consumer may perceive it as being low in quality. On the other hand, if the price is too high, some will not be able to afford it. Social marketers must balance these considerations, and often end up charging at least a nominal fee to increase perceptions of quality and to confer a sense of “dignity” to the transaction. These perceptions of costs and benefits can be determined through research, and used in positioning the product.
“Place” describes the way that the product reaches the consumer. For a tangible product, this refers to the distribution system–including the warehouse, trucks, sales force, retail outlets where it is sold, or places where it is given out for free. For an intangible product, place is less clear-cut, but refers to decisions about the channels through which consumers are reached with information or training. This may include doctors’ offices, shopping malls, mass media vehicles or in-home demonstrations. Another element of place is deciding how to ensure accessibility of the offering and quality of the service delivery. By determining the activities and habits of the target audience, as well as their experience and satisfaction with the existing delivery system, researchers can pinpoint the most ideal means of distribution for the offering.
Finally, the last “P” is promotion. Because of its visibility, this element is often mistakenly thought of as comprising the whole of social marketing. However, as can be seen by the previous discussion, it is only one piece. Promotion consists of the integrated use of advertising, public relations, promotions, media advocacy, personal selling and entertainment vehicles. The focus is on creating and sustaining demand for the product. Public service announcements or paid ads are one way, but there are other methods such as coupons, media events, editorials.
Additional Social Marketing “P’s”:
Publics–Social marketers often have many different audiences that their program has to address in order to be successful. “Publics” refers to both the external and internal groups involved in the program. External publics include the target audience, secondary audiences, policymakers, and gatekeepers, while the internal publics are those who are involved in some way with either approval or implementation of the program.
Partnership–Social and health issues are often so complex that one agency can’t make a dent by itself. You need to team up with other organizations in the community to really be effective. You need to figure out which organizations have similar goals to yours–not necessarily the same goals–and identify ways you can work together.
Policy–Social marketing programs can do well in motivating individual behavior change, but that is difficult to sustain unless the environment they’re in supports that change for the long run. Often, policy change is needed, and media advocacy programs can be an effective complement to a social marketing program.
Purse Strings–Most organizations that develop social marketing programs operate through funds provided by sources such as foundations, governmental grants or donations. This adds another dimension to the strategy development-namely, where will you get the money to create your program?
It is important here to mention that the concept of social marketing calls upon marketers to balance three considerations in formulating the marketing policies viz, company profits, customer satisfaction and public interest. Traditionally, the companies concentrated on profit computation, then they recognize the long – run importance of satisfying consumer which paved avenues for the marketing concept of late, they are planning for social interests. The social marketing calls for balancing all three considerations.
How Social Marketing Can Help..?
- Connecting with your customers
- Positioning your business in the marketplace
- Promote branding
- Increase sales because of increases in exposure
The perception of social or societal marketing thus in plain words focuses on application of marketing principles keeping in view the public or social interests. Either we market products of goods manufacturing industries or the services product of service generating industries, the social marketing is found relevant. The main philosophy behind the theory is to protect the social interests. Our marketing decisions directly or indirectly are next not to misguide deceive the ultimate consumers as well as the society. An organization, of course, has the right to product but the products either in short run or in the long run should not be instrumental in polluting the environment and paving ways for socio-cultural confrontation which engineers a foundation for developing emotionally – conficted and behaviourly – disturbed society.
Since the perception of the society includes in its preview all the living beings, it is very natural that while formulating policies, we also focus our attention on protecting and preserving the interests of domestic and wild animals, birds and other living beings. The marketers have to be careful that their decisions directly or indirectly are not question the existence and well – being of living being in general.
– Praneeth MB