Capstone: Social Marketing

What Is Social Marketing

To put it simply, social marketing employs traditional marketing strategies in the pursuit of influencing individual and community behaviors for the “greater social good.” This is different from commercial marketing practices where the goal is financial gains. Social marketing aims to make a change of some sort for the betterment of individuals and/or the greater community.

How This Relates to My Capstone

My project is based upon individual/environmental changes. My goal is to educate my audience on the effects of improper drug disposal on the environment and to motivate a behavioral change. A conceptual paper written by Walter Wymer at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Canada discusses the factors that can help influence the effectiveness of a social marketing campaign and some barriers marketers must become aware of if they want their campaigns to be successful.


Social Marketing solutions are based on the marketer’s understanding of the cause of social problems. When the cause of the problem is close to the social problem, the understanding of the problem can become a good guide for developing a solution. When the cause of the problem is further away from the social problem, traditional social marketing tends to be less effective. The article states that the following assumptions are present in most social marketing campaigns:

  • The root cause of the problems to be addressed by social marketing is unhealthy individual behavior.
  • These unhealthy individual behaviors tend to be habituated.
  • Driving habituated unhealthy behavior is insufficient or incorrect knowledge, attitudes that reinforce the behaviors, or possibly a lack of healthy alternatives.
  • Individuals have control over their behavior- individual volition

The most effective social marketing campaigns come from solutions where the marketers truly understood the cause of a social problem. In many cases, the social problem lies within an environmental cause, and traditional social marketing to individuals may be less effective. The article explains the concept of “upstream marketing” in which marketers identify the environmental factors that are contributing to the social problems. “Once the causes of the social problem are clearly understood, then barriers to a more healthy condition can be identified and removed.”


There are four types of barriers that marketers must identify to effectively overcome (as shown in Figure 1 from the article).

The bottom bar of the pyramid is privation. A privation barrier indicates that one or more variables is missing from an environment, causing the social problem. The next bar up on the pyramid is the pathogenic agents. This type of barrier occurs when there is one or more variables in an environment that cause unhealthy conditions. These bottom two rows are categorized as environmental barriers, and campaigns targeting these types must take that into consideration.

The top two rows consist of the individual barriers of ignorance, where the public may not have enough correct information to take preventative or active measures, and motivation.

“The Great Drug Take-Back Iniciative” centers around the environmental barrier of pathogenic agents and both of the individual barriers. I will need to take all of this into consideration when planning my campaign to ensure it is effective.

To find the full article, search this citation:

Wymer, W. (2011). Developing more effective social marketing strategies.Journal of Social Marketing1(1), 17-31.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s