Social marketing is an area of marketing that uses commercial marketing techniques to improve the lives of consumers and society as a whole. The aim of commercial marketing is to influence the behavior of consumers so they will buy a certain product or service. Social marketing uses
proven techniques to solve societal problems (e.g. healthy lifestyle, smoking or gambling, and thus to achieve greater satisfaction for the consumers themselves).
Social marketing as an autonomous discipline was born in the 1970's. At that time, Philip Kotler
and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same principles and rules that are used to sell products and
services can also be used to "sell" ideas, attitudes and behaviors. Kotler and Andreasen describe
social marketing as "different from other areas of marketing only by marketer’s goals and the
goals of his-her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behavior for the benefit
of the target groups and society as a whole." These techniques are often used in fields as
diverse as drug addiction, cardiovascular diseases, organ donation, road safety, and more.
By combining marketing techniques and social science theories, social marketing is a proven tool
for making long term changes in behavior at the most efficient costs.
As in commercial marketing, attention is focused on the "customer". Social marketing seeks to
find out what people want and need, rather than trying to convince them to buy what only suits
us. Studying the customer helps to better determine:
● what people focus on
● what exactly to influence
● how to do it
● how to measure program effectiveness
It is essential to include the customer and his or her wants and needs to the marketing mix, i.e. in
decisions relating to the product (e.g. condoms, medical examinations, healthy eating,
breastfeeding or environmental protection), price/value (money, time, effort), distribution
(physical distribution, distribution of information) and communication.