Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Social Marketing

Social marketing is the use of commercial marketing techniques to promote the adoption of a behavior that will improve the health or well-being of the target audience or of society as a whole. The key characteristic that distinguishes social marketing from commercial marketing is the purpose; that is, the benefits accrue to the individual or society rather than to the marketer’s organization. Social marketing can be applied to promote merit goods, or to make a society avoid demerit goods and thus to promote society's well being as a whole. For example, this may include asking people not to smoke in public areas, asking them to use seat belts, or prompting to make them follow speed limits.

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.

A social marketing program might not be as effective for certain issues such as complex problems with many contributing or confounding factors, problems not under individual control (e.g. genetic flaws), and addictive disorders. Social marketing is at its best when used to effect and sustain healthful or socially beneficial behavior change, increase program use, or build customer satisfaction with existing services.

Social marketers, dealing with goals such as reducing cigarette smoking or encouraging condom use, have more difficult goals: to make potentially difficult and long-term behavioral changein target populations. It is sometimes felt that social marketing is restricted to a particular spectrum of client -- the non-profit organization, the health services group, the government agency. These often are the clients of social marketing agencies, but the goal of inducing social change is not restricted to governmental or non-profit charitable organizations; it may be argued that corporate public relations efforts such as funding for the arts are an example of social marketing.

Lifebuoy's “Swasthya Chetna” (LSC) was a five-year health and hygiene education program initiated by Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). The program was formally launched in 2002, in eight states across India. The objective of this program was to educate around 200 million people in rural and urban areas about the importance of adopting good ‘health and hygiene' practices. The program spread awareness about germs and their adverse effects on health, and how proper ‘health and hygiene' practices, such as bathing and washing hands with soap could prevent diseases like diarrhea.

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