Challenges for the Science and Practice of Social Marketing
Alan R. Andreasen
Twenty-five years ago, marketing scholars, led by the "Northwestern School" ( Elliott, 1991) began to look at possible applications of commercial sector marketing beyond its traditional confines ( Kotler & Levy, 1969; Kotler & Zaltman, 1971). The first wave of interest was institutional. In the 1970s, marketing scholars focused on adapting marketing mind-sets, processes, and concepts to a wide range of nonprofit enterprises, initially universities, performing arts organizations, and hospitals. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, an increasing number of scholars and practitioners shifted away from this institutional focus toward what might be called a program focus. They recognized that the basic goal of marketing is to influence behavior, whether that behavior is buying a Big Mac, flying United Airlines, practicing safe sex, or getting one's child immunized ( Andreasen, 1993). In each case, marketers mount programs to bring about these behaviors. Some programs, like that of United Airlines or the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, are very long term. Others, like many new cereal introductions and some health care interventions, are shorter lived.
This perception that marketing constitutes a proven and potentially very powerful technology for bringing about socially desirable behaviors is the engine motivating the growth of what might be called "the social marketing movement" over the last 15 years. This movement has established social marketing as a distinct subdiscipline within the general field of academic marketing. At the same time, it has led to the adoption of the technology by a wide range of private, public, and private-nonprofit organizations and