Academic journal article Journal of the Community Development Society

Community-Based Social Marketing: Involvement in Health Programs

Academic journal article Journal of the Community Development Society

Community-Based Social Marketing: Involvement in Health Programs

Article excerpt


Social marketing is a strategy that uses marketing approaches developed within the business arena to design, implement, and evaluate socially beneficial programs. This approach can be an effective social change strategy for groups working in the profession of community development. This paper describes two community-based projects that employed social marketing to design and implement interventions to promote health in Arkansas and Florida. We describe the stages of the research, as well as the limitations and strengths of this approach.

Key words: community-based social marketing, community services, health



Within the world of domestic and international commerce, the principles and practices of business marketing have proven to be powerful in maximizing profit by creating or increasing consumer demand for goods and services and reducing the real or perceived costs of these goods and services. While product marketing is integral to the world of business, social marketing, the application of marketing approaches to non-business enterprises, such as community development efforts, is not so widespread. (1) Social marketing is now in a rapid growth phase, with several textbooks, a peer review journal, two conferences, and numerous social marketing institutions now available to assist program planners in using this powerful approach to social change (Andreasen, 2002).

Social marketing is a "... process that promotes the voluntary behavior of target audiences by offering benefits they want, reducing barriers they are concerned about, and using persuasion to motivate their participation in program activity" (Kotler & Roberto, 1989, p. 24). While the majority of efforts in social marketing has emerged from origins, impetus, and application at policy and programmatic points outside the local community (Middlestadt et al., 1997), a heightening awareness of the importance of including locality in a process of "community-based social marketing" is gaining currency among researchers and practitioners alike (cf. Israel et al., 1994; Middlestadt et al., 1997; Tyson & Colter 1999).

A community-based approach to social marketing can be seen as the integration of the basic ideas of community development within a marketing framework. It is founded on the premise that local citizens can be active participants in the process. Practitioners and academic researchers work with community members to adapt marketing tools to design effective strategies for change. Through this collaborative participation and the resulting increased understanding, community members and groups may gain the capacity to address other issues germane to community well being (Brown & Vega, 1996; Bryant et al., 2000; Andreasen, 1995). Thus, community-based social marketing is an adaptation and integration of the concepts that drive marketing, as well as those that drive community development processes. As defined by Wilkinson (1989, p. 247), community development is a "process by which local people, acting together for their own common good, develop the capacity to direct and coordinate the use that is made of their labor and other resources." Community-based projects can facilitate community development not only by assuring the central roles of community members, but also by implementing a process that extends community capacity and/or community resources.

This article provides a description of two very different community-based projects that, to varying degrees, have applied social marketing and involved citizens in the development and implementation of community health interventions. Each project is described within a social marketing context. These two case studies are intended to contribute to the idea that community involvement enhances the social marketing process. Specifically, the manuscript extends the traditional application of social marketing techniques to include the involvement of local communities to promote the process of improving the well being of citizens. …

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