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Problems and challenges in social marketing



Problems and challenges in social marketing



Journal of Marketing 45(2): 79-88



This article reviews the problems that arise when general marketing principles are applied to social programs. Social marketing is conceptualized as the design, implementation, and control of programs seeking to increase the acceptability of a social ideal or practice in a target group. These problems can occur in 8 basic decision-making areas: market analysis, market segmentation, product strategy development, pricing strategy development, channel strategy development, communications strategy development, organizational design and planning, and evaluation. Social marketers find that they have less good secondary data about their consumers, more problems obtaining valid and reliable measures of relevant variables, more difficulty sorting out the relative influence of determinants of consumer behavior, and more problems getting consumer research funded than marketers in the commercial sector. They tend to have less flexibility in shaping their products and more difficulty formulating product concepts. Problems associated with establishing, utilizing, and controlling distribution channels comprise another major difference between social and more conventional forms of marketing. Social marketers also find that their communications options are somewhat limited as a result of problems associated with use of paid advertisements, pressures not to use certain types of appeals in their messages, and the need to communicate large amounts of information in their messages. Moreover, social marketers must function in organizations where marketing activities are poorly understood, underappreciated, and inappropriately located. Finally, they face problems trying to define effectiveness measures or estimating the contribution their program has made toward the achievement of certain objectives. If all these problems are anticipated and handled creatively, social marketing efforts can succeed.

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Accession: 047080714

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 12280283

DOI: 10.2307/1251667


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