The Role of Social Marketing Organizations in Strengthening the Commercial Sector: Case Studies for Male Condoms in Myanmar and Viet Nam

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Background: Condom social marketing has been critical to sexual health programs in the developing world. The discipline has matured and social marketers are now applying a total market approach (TMA) to fill market gaps, satisfy unmet need, and increase commercial sector engagement. This paper presents case studies from Myanmar (PSI/M) and Viet Nam (PSI/V), examines the effectiveness and efficiency of their condom markets for reaching key populations at risk for HIV, and presents actions taken to strengthen the commercial sector.

Methods: Access figures came from retail audits, routine data, and UNAIDS. Condom use data were from behavioral surveys. Data for SES profiles were from behavioral surveys and a national survey.

Results: The Myanmar market was relatively effective, but not efficient. Condom access and use improved, but wealthier populations benefited from subsidized condoms. To strengthen the commercial sector, PSI/M helped the public sector decrease the number of free condoms sold on the market, endorsed two commercial brands, and improved pricing. Commercial market share improved and PSI/M adopted a cost-recovery strategy. In Viet Nam, efforts focused on hotels/guesthouses and improved targeting for subsidized condoms. PSI/V also integrated a commercial brand into targeted hotel/ guesthouse distribution and promoted it to populations with ability to pay. More hotels/guesthouses stocked condoms and decreased their reliance on subsidized commodities.

Conclusions: Social marketers can increase health impact by strengthening commercial sector contributions to public health priorities. Examples from Myanmar and Viet Nam demonstrate how such actions can transform a market and engage private sector players to improve health outcomes.