Six key ingredients can increase success

Social marketing uses conventional marketing tools and techniques with the aim not of making profit, but of promoting individual and group behavior changes that reap health or social benefits. There are 6 key elements in the social marketing approach that work best when used all together. A new literature review (see reference below) evaluated social marketing interventions to reduce harm due to alcohol consumptions. One of the findings was that none of the interventions reviewed used all 6 elements in their social marketing design. The good news is that this article provides a clear checklist for social marketers to design more effective campaigns!

1. Behavior change is the outcome of interest: measures of exposure to the campaign or attitude change are important, but not the true measures of success.

2. Formative research: seeks to understand the audience’s needs, motives, and factors associated with a behavior.

3. Audience segmentation: identifies sub-groups of the target audience that share certain characteristics that make them more likely to respond in a certain way to a social marketing message or approach. Different approaches can be created for different audience segments (See our previous post about segmentation)

4. Exchange: Identify ways to increase the benefits, and lower the costs/effort for the target audience to adopt the desired behavior.

5. Marketing mix that strategizes on: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion

6. Competition: Analyze and address marketing and social norms that promote unhealthy behaviors.


Kubacki, K., Rundle-Thiele, S., Pang, B., & Buyucek, N. (2015). Minimizing alcohol harm: A systematic social marketing review (2000–2014). Journal of Business Research.


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