Purpose – Social marketing has evolved differently in the developing and developed worlds, at times leading to different emphases on what social marketing thought and practice entail. This paper aims to document what those differences have been and provide an integrative framework to guide social marketers in working with significant social and health issues.
Design/methodology/approach – An integration of views about social marketing is proposed that is focused on the core roles of audience benefits; analysis of behavioral determinants, context and consequences; the use of positioning, brand and personality in marketing strategy development; and use of the four elements of the marketing mix to tailor offerings, realign prices, increase access and opportunities; and communicate these in an evolving media environment.
Findings – Ideas about branding and positioning, core strategic social marketing concerns, have been better understood and practiced in developing country settings. Social marketing in developing countries has focused much more on products and services, with a concomitant interest in pricing and distribution systems. In developed countries, social marketing has too often taken the 1P route of using persuasive communications for behavior change. The integrative framework calls for an expansion of social marketing to product and service development and delivery, using incentives and other behavioral economic concepts as part of the price element, and extending place as both an access and opportunity idea for behaviors, products and services. Practical implications – The framework pulls together social marketing ideas and practices from the diversity of settings in which they have been developed and allows practitioners and academics to use a common set of concepts to think about and design social marketing programs. The model also gives social marketers more latitude in how to use price and place in the design of programs. Finally, it also provides a platform for how we approach social change and public health in the years ahead through market-based reform.
Originality/value – Five challenges to social marketing are identified – achieving equity, influence of social networks on behaviors, critical marketing, sustainability, scalability and the need for comprehensive programs – that may serve to focus and coalesce social marketing research and practice around the world.