What’s it: Social marketing has a social purpose rather than a profit like commercial marketing. It integrates marketing concepts to drive behavior change for the long-term benefit and well-being of society. Such an objective differs from commercial marketing. It attempts to change people’s behavior for the benefit of the market and business profits.
The importance of social marketing
Increasing social and environmental problems encourage people to care more about our sustainability in the future. Commercial marketing is often more concerned with aspects of business profits and customer satisfaction. And, it often ignores negative environmental or social impacts.
Social marketing questions whether the concept of commercial marketing is the right philosophy when we face various problems such as:
- Environmental damage such as air pollution, waste, and global warming
- Depletion of natural resources due to exploitative behavior
- Hunger and poverty
- Obesity and other health problems
- Low access to education, health, and other social services
Such problems then create various pressures on business. We demand that they care more about social and environmental problems, not just profit.
Companies then include people and the planet as their goal in addition to profit (known as the triple bottom line). They think about how to satisfy consumers’ needs in the present and act in the long-term best interests of consumers and society.
The difference between social marketing and commercial marketing
Commercial marketing focuses on profitably satisfying consumers. Companies sell products that people want and need. To support profits, they will operate efficiently. They must do better than their competitors. That way, they have not only loyal customers but also a lower cost structure.
Commercial marketing does not focus on marketing ethics. Some products may have adverse effects on the health of consumers in the long run. Take fast food, for example. Companies offer them the same way as other products, both in quality, prices, and promotions. The end goal is to generate more sales instead of the consumer’s best good.
Meanwhile, social marketing puts forward behavior change to generate long-term mutual good. For example, it might encourage people to reduce their consumption of fast food or alcohol, increase their consumption of organic food, and encourage a healthy lifestyle in the health sector.
Examples of social marketing
Social marketing’s primary purpose is to influence and change our behavior to be beneficial, both socially and environmentally. It promotes long-term co-benefits for society.
Several examples are for social marketing. They vary depending on the targeted social aspects, whether related to the environment, social awareness, or body health.
- Reduction of environmentally unfriendly products such as the anti-palm oil campaign in the European Union
- Anti-tobacco campaign to reduce smoking rates
- Campaigns to promote healthy eating patterns, for example, to reduce the consumption of fast food and increase the consumption of organic foods
- Campaign to reduce drunk driving behavior
- Campaign to minimize antisocial behavior
- Campaign to reduce carbon footprint and promote energy conservation using environmentally friendly energy
Who uses it
Campaigns usually come from non-profit institutions such as:
- Non-governmental organization
- Customary institutions
Commercial companies have also adopted the concept, although it is more limited. They usually focus more on the functional aspect. For example, they assure the public, their products and operations are environmentally friendly. Tesla is a good example. The company launches vehicles with sustainable energy fuel.
In broad outline, business then develops three strategic goals: profit, people, and the planet. This goal shows the importance for them to balance profit with social and environmental responsibility. They fulfill not only short-term consumer desires profitably but also consider long-term well-being.
Social marketing effects
Social marketing uses commercial marketing strategies to achieve specific social changes. Therefore, we consider it successful if it achieves the desired social change.
That usually takes longer than commercial marketing, maybe even years. For example, the anti-smoking campaign in Australia, which was launched in 1997, took 5 years to reduce adult smoking by 3.7%.
This long-term effect contrasts with commercial marketing. The latter may take a business only a few days to attract consumers and encourage them to buy. Consumers are often willing to queue to get the latest edition of the product being promoted.
Advantages of social marketing
Social marketing provides a competitive advantage for companies. Consumers prefer to buy products from businesses that are ethical and socially responsible. Such trends are expected to grow in popularity as campaigns and concerns over social and environmental issues increase.
Another advantage is the premium price. Companies take their social and environmental efforts into unique selling points, enabling them to charge higher prices.
This is similar to a differentiation strategy. A company uses a unique feature or product quality as a unique selling point.