social marketing

The Transtheoretical Model


Another theory that could be useful in engaging parents with behaviour change is the Transtheoretical Model. This theoretical model was initially developed, by James Prochaska and Carlo Diclemente in the late 1970s, to aid smoking cessation, and includes a number of constructs, aiming to move individuals away from a negative behaviour to a positive behaviour (e.g. from smoking to non-smoking). This model has borrowed constructs and ideas from a number of other theories and includes the following constructs; Stages of change (the stage at which a person is relating to behaviour change – please see below), Decisional Balance (pros and cons of behaviour), self-efficacy (the ability of someone to perceive that they have the skills to change a behaviour), and the processes of change (activities to support the movement between stages). The stages of change are each stage that an individual can move through, from pre-contemplation (not even considering enacting a different behaviour) through contemplation and preparation to action (acting out the new behaviour) and maintenance (maintaining the new behaviour). This construct is cyclical and allows for relapses into the old behaviour, where the individual would then join again at the pre-contemplation or contemplation stage, as well as moving forwards and backwards through stages.

The processes of change components are also important and are headlines for activities that can be undertaken to support behaviour change. In the table below are descriptions for each process of change component. How these are actually practised is up to the campaign. For instance consciousness raising could be realised through a direct mail or promotion to raise awareness, whereas counter-conditioning, could occur where messages and facts supporting the new behaviour and proving that the old behaviour is unhealthy are offered to target audiences.













Apart from smoking cessation, TTM has been used for drinking, drug use, exercise, healthy eating, mammography screening, and sun protection, as well as in increasing walking amongst previously inactive groups. Any behaviour can be mapped against TTM. There are accusations of a lack of proof that the TTM is really effective, but like other models, by covering off all these areas, the campaigning work will have some value.

The Theory of Planned Behaviour


As part of my research, I decided to look at theoretical models that could be used as part of campaigning work to engage parents. One obvious contender is the Theory of Planned Behaviour.

The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) was developed by Icek Azjen in 1981, as an extension to the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), which was also developed by Azjen, with Martin Fishbein in the 1970s.  (Fishbein & Azjen, 1975; Azjen & Fishbein, 1980). The TRA developed from work looking at the affect of attitudes on behaviour, and the importance of intention to/to not enact a behaviour and consists of the constructs;  Attitude (the feeling someone has towards something) and subjective norm (perceived or actual social pressure to perform a behaviour). Attitude is affected by behavioural beliefs (what someone personally believes that they should do in relation to the behaviour) and subjective norm is affected by (what an individual believes others think should be done in relation to the behaviour). The TPB includes the additional construct of perceived behavioural control (PBC) (an individual’s control over being able to perform the behaviour), which is influenced by control beliefs (what someone believes relating to them being able to perform the behaviour). PBC has been linked to other constructs, such as self-efficacy (found in The Social Cognitive Theory), where an individual feels that they have control over a behaviour and can actually carry it out because they believe that they have the skills to do so. Attitude, subjective norm and PBC all have a direct influence on intention, with PBC also having an influence on behaviour (as without control over the behaviour it is not possible to enact).

To help illustrate the TPB model I have created a diagram with some phrases highlighting how each construct works within the model.















This theory has been used by numerous academics to study cognitive behaviours, such as car use, exercise and condom use. In some cases additional constructs, such as habit, have been added to strengthen the model’s predictive power. For campaign purposes, this model is useful as it’s constructs cover a lot of areas that are relevant and influencers on intention to carry out a behaviour. One area it is not as strong at, is considering affective influences, such as emotional feelings towards a behaviour. If a behaviour change (whether a campaign call to action or the actual behaviour itself) has significant emotional influence than there is a need to add constructs reflecting these into the model.

Social capital and social trust


As my research is looking at parental engagement with a campaign promoting travel to school, I thought it would be a good idea to look at all the influences on parenting and children’s mobility. One area that I came across was social capital. Social capital is the value that people place in their local community, involving feelings of being safe in your local area, and trusting in other community members. Another definition is ‘the social networks and interactions that inspire trust and reciprocity among citizens’ (Stahl et al, 2001). A large amount of social capital research has been undertaken by academics, many of whom advise that social capital has a big part to play in the levels children’s independence, as well as how independently mobile children are allowed to be. Interestingly, one author claims that social capital levels have stayed unchanged in the UK since the 1950s, but levels of social trust ‘trusting others in the community’ have decreased significantly. If you think about the socio-economic changes that have happened in communities since this time, it is easy to spot the impact of this change in social trust. Many children are now, not allowed to play out on the streets, or be independently mobile, families have more commonly moved away from areas where they may have lived for generations, extended families have declined – often a grandparent would be around to keep an eye on children and live with their children and grandchildren. Another area of change has been the increase of women in the workplace, who until relatively recently were often stay at home mums or housewives. These changes, cumulatively, could be leading to community members feeling that their areas has become less safe, as more and more unfamiliar people are seen and social bonds are broken.



left – two women chatting, representing ‘social capital’, which  plays an important part in communities feeling safe







Stahl, T. Rutten, A., Nutbeam, D., Bauman, A., Kannas, L., Abel, T., Luschen, G., Rodriquez, D.J.A., Vinck, J. & van der Zee, J., 2001. The importance of the social environment for physically active lifestyle – results from an international study. Social Science and Medicine, 52: 1-10

Social marketing campaigns and parents


As part of my research into engaging parents with campaigns, I thought it would be worthwhile to investigate existing campaigns to see if anything could be learnt from them. Here are the most interesting that I have found.

The NEA Priority Schools campaign, is a community-based, social marketing campaign, that strives to increase parental engagement between schools and hard-to-reach ethnic minority groups. One USA school, wanted to engage with Hispanic and African American families, so the school set up a Parents’ Council, which initially started as a summer program of workshops. The school realised that parent outreach was much more than a meeting, and was about creating ‘a community of trust’. Work started initially where these groups lived, right in their community. This ensured that the parents started to see the school working in their neighbourhood and that they started to build rapport and trust over time. The school offered classes and activities that supported the parents, such as computer classes and parenting classes, in Spanish, and parents from this community offered their time to run or assist with the class. The program regularly discussed the needs of the target audience to ascertain what was needed by the audience, which aided success. The school created an inclusive climate, adopted a culturally sensitive approach and drew on community support to aid success.

Another example of a campaign, using social marketing, is The School Foods Trust Free School Meals campaign, which was set up to raise parents’ awareness that their children may be eligible for free school meals, and that they could be missing out. This campaign utilised technology that parents use to engage with them. This was supported by other offline and online materials. This campaign used Bluetooth technology, placed at large, local supermarkets, in Wolverhampton, and was supported by promotion in telephone boxes and on notice boards. A third of phone users accepted the Bluetooth message (Schools Food Trust, 2010). In a slightly different version of this campaign, notices advising of potential eligibility were put up in an ASDA supermarket, and an in-store community life champion was trained to offer advice and promote the free school meals option.

The final campaign I want to highlight is The Washington State Campaign, CHILD Profile, which focused on tackling a drop in child immunization, a change ascribed to increased perceived parental concerns linked to toxicity of vaccines, and side effects, as well as the fall in the number of disease cases in the developing world. Often these concerns were based on information from traditional and new media. The campaign focused on hesitant parents (who are still open to immunization), as a target audience. Research looked at specific and unique perceived barriers, and a positioning and marketing strategy was designed to remove these barriers and highlight benefits. As there was scepticism by parents, a two-sided message (praising immunisation and identifying shortcomings) was used, which has been found to be effective (Kotler & Lee, 2008). Alongside the campaign spokesperson, local media channels and health professionals help to spread the word. Data and rational argument are important, but the campaign message was required to come from a trustworthy source (perceived or actually sharing a common goal with the audience), as well as resonating with the audience.

Maslow and segmentation


™I recently attended a workshop where Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was shown to form the basis for segmenting audiences using Values Modes™. Developed by Chris Rose and Pat Dade of Cultural Dynamics, Values Modes™ are divide into three main groupings; Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers. Each Values Modes™ grouping has different sets of values and worldviews, which impacts on how they engage and participate with campaigns and campaign messaging. I also noticed that each group can be linked to Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation model. A diagram below shows where each group grouping fits with Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, and the Diffusion of Innovation model, followed by  a short description of each grouping.























Settlers are traditionalists, who will often just follow what they are told by government or senior figures. They are nostalgic for the past (which they view through rose-tinted glasses), being secure and safe, and not rocking the boat. Campaigns aimed at them need to promote keeping their values and their families being safe. A campaign that appeals to this grouping is the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). The Maslow groupings that relates to them are safety and psychological needs. Linking to the Diffusion of Innovation model, Settlers form the vast majority of ‘the late majority’ and ‘laggards’ segments, as traditionalists and late adopters of innovation. Saying that, if an innovation increased security or protected something they value, they may be ‘early majority’ adopters (e.g. security systems, solar panels to save money)


Prospectors are collectors and accumulators of items, that help to show off their wealth and status. They are the grouping that wants something now, wants to be better than others, and wants to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. They don’t like being told what to do or to give up something, unless it benefits them in some way. Campaigns that seek to engage with them need to not preach to them and pander to their need to be seen to do something fun, creative and where they can win something. Comic Relief is a great example of a campaign that works with this grouping, as it involves celebrity, fun and has mass appeal. The Maslow groupings that relate to them are esteem and belonging needs. With the Diffusion of Innovation model, this group are the majority of early majority, following the Pioneer grouping in the uptake of innovative ideas and making them fashionable. If an innovation really links strongly to their values and views then they can be early adopters, spreading the innovation quickly within their networks. If an innovation does not catch on with this group, it is unlikely to succeed.


Pioneers are facilitators and have concern for others, rather than just the self and believe in fairness and equality. They look to help others and are often supporters of causes, such as environmental or welfare charities. Many campaigns already link up to values that the Pioneer grouping already have and find this group easy to engage. Campaigns such as Greenpeace and Save the Children are obvious ones that tie into the values of this value mode group. Within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this group would equate to those who have reached Self-Actualisation – needs have been fulfilled and now seek satisfaction through helping others. Within the Diffusion of Innovation model, the vast majority of innovators would be found in this grouping, with the majority of remaining Pioneers, found as early adopters.


My background research, into engaging parents, has shown me that campaigns should be targeting by psychographic segments, rather than using demographics, such as gender, age or wage, unless the demographic closely matches the intended target audience. The Values Modes™ system is one version of segmenting by psychographics, and has been used by a number of organisations to engage with their target audiences better.


You can also take an online test to help you work out which Values Modes™ grouping you belong to.  To see which group you may belong to please visit the following website, where a short questionnaire will pigeon-hole you and define your values mode: – I am, apparently, a transcender.


One issue I thought about was, if my worldview is as a ‘Pioneer‘, than I may be creating campaign collateral and messaging that does not resonate with other groups that I am trying to engage with. I then realised that marketing research and pre-testing with the target audiences is even more vital to remove this bias that I might be introducing to campaign messaging and collateral.


Maslow and social marketing


What makes people do what they do – what motivates them?According to one well known theory, people can be split into distinct groups depending on what their motivations or needs are. Being able to segment consumers in this way is obviously valuable to marketers and can also be applied to social marketing.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a well known psychology theory that was proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. It splits individuals’ needs into groups such as basic physiological needs (food, water, fresh air, sex), moving up through needs associated with safety (being secure), belonging (being part of the group), esteem (looking and feeling good); culminating in a grouping called self-actualisation (those who help others as their needs have been satisfied). This theory is often represented as a pyramid with the basic needs at the bottom and ‘self-actualisation’ at the top. A simple version can be found below.

Maslow’s theory can be used to segment audiences/consumers by offering marketing that is appropriate for each group’s needs. A product or intervention can be sold in different ways to groups with different needs, or just focus on one group.

A chocolate bar could be sold as a quick snack fulfilling hunger or physiological needs, whilst the same chocolate bar could be sold as an indulgence (sense of belonging, esteem, ‘me’ time).

Individuals can move between ‘needs’ groups. Working upwards from the physiological needs towards self-actualisation is supposed to mirror human development and as one need is fulfilled another need is realised (e.g. movement from hunger to needing a safe place to live)

For social marketing, an understanding of motivation is key to affecting behaviour change. To get someone to give up smoking by just having a ‘give up it’s bad for you’ message will not work with every individual or group. Hence the need for imagery of smokers (esteem) and statistics linked to life expectancy and illness (security and safety). Campaigns can either focus on one or two groups (teenage mums in one localised area) or a number of groups with differing ‘needs’  (promoting walking or cycling to school) – different messaging and media may be required to attract the notice of these groups and that the behaviour change resonates with them.

Anti-smoking campaigns seem to be the most common example of social marketing using imagery I could find on the net. Some examples from outside of the UK can be found below:

A rather horrific poster promoting smoking cessation to Brazilian women

Two Posters from the anti-smoking teenage campaign, STAND. Based in Ohio, USA


These campaign posters use different imagery to promote behaviour change. The poster on the left is an anti-smoking campaign targeting women, tapping into concerns about looking good and aging (self-esteem) to encourage them to stop smoking. The right hand poster uses imagery associated with sex, looking good and going out, to promote non-smoking behaviour to the teenage market. This campaign uses the needs grouping of being part of the group and looking good (esteem and belonging) as the behaviour change ‘hook’ for this campaign.

One interesting grouping is the self-actualisation’ individuals. Should campaigns be aimed at them? It is more likely that these individuals will already be displaying positive behaviour (e.g. not smoking, cycling to work, eating healthily), but campaigns aimed at other groups will help to reinforce and remind them of their good behaviour.

Playing on people’s fears (linking to the security and esteem groups), as in the examples above, is one effective way of getting attention for a campaign. This is especially true for those groups who may be more likely to display negative behaviour or be more easily influenced by what they see or by others’ behaviour, rather than logical argument.

Maslow’s theory is one of many that links to social marketing and is an easy way for any social marketing or indeed commercial marketing campaign to consider how to tailor their campaign messages to different target audiences. As someone who works on a social marketing campaign, it became quite obvious that campaigns created by a certain group or an individual could be pitched in an inappropriate way, due to the values or needs of the campaign creator or group. Using Maslow’s theory and other linked ideas has made me realise that simple segmentation using this theory could revolutionise how I go about creating campaigns in the future – and help answer key questions such as does it answer the needs of the target audience? Or does it mean anything to them?

Social Marketing? What’s that?


So, where to begin? What is Social Marketing? I immediately started looking for definitions of what social marketing actually is and found the following online examples and one from my course (in bold):

  1. The systematic application of marketing, along with other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioural goals for a social good.
  2. Planning, execution, and evaluation of programs to influence the voluntary behaviour of target audiences in order to improve their personal welfare, e.g. encouraging people to give up smoking.
  3. A marketing message designed to promote a social concern or political idea as well as a product.
  4. The use of marketing principles and techniques for the social good. For example, by attempting to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify or abandon a behaviour for the benefit of themselves and/or society as a whole.
  5. A process for influencing human behaviour on a large scale, using marketing principles for the purpose of societal benefit rather than commercial profit – Pirani and Reizes 2005
  6. Marketing and advertising that reaches potential consumers via social networking websites, such as Facebook.

Examples 1 to 5 are fairly similar and match my original idea of what social marketing means. But example 6 relates to a completely different type of marketing, in this case ‘Social Media marketing’.  It seems a bit surprising that social media marketers wouldn’t be aware of the existence of social marketing as a concept, as it’s been around for a few decades. This ‘confusion’ was also borne out on a recent visit to a bookshop, where the only social marketing books I could find related to social media marketing – which in the short-term is obviously a more lucrative market for wannabe internet entrepreneurs and bookshops. Conversely, social marketing is about long-term sustained change and benefit.

What is this ‘other’ social (media) marketing?its uses the functionality of social media sites to communicate with users, bringing the brand into the user’s social life e.g. setting up a Facebook group that allows users to interact with the brand. An example of this would be Starbucks Facebook group, who offer a web forum, products/services for friends of their brand, as well as competitions. Friends of the group feel that they are being listened to and can interact and build a stronger emotional link with the brand, as well as discuss topics with like-minded group members.

Interestingly, social marketing campaigns, such as Change4Life use social media marketing to build support and interact with users – their page currently has over 26,000 supporters (those saying they ‘like’ the group). Again, this is an opportunity for users to interact with the brand, share experiences and ideas and show that they are part of the movement.

So, back to the original meaning of social marketing. What examples are there of social marketing (in the original meaning) campaigns?:

  • Stop Smoking
  • AIDS (contraception and testing)
  • Anti-drink driving
  • Using suntan lotion (Slip!Slap!Slop!)
  • Get fit and active campaigns (Change4Life)
  • Transport (e.g. leave the car at home and cycle or walk)
  • Waste (e.g. recycling and reusing)

The first recorded social marketing campaign took place in India in the 1960s, promoting contraception. Today social marketing is still mainly based in the health sector, but social marketing techniques are also being used in other sectors where behaviour change campaigns are needed (see above examples).

Social marketing has been receiving more recognition recently, with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) releasing a paper “Less Smoke More fire” last year which showed that commercial (or traditional) marketers have a lot to learn from social marketing techniques and that social marketing is at the cutting edge of marketing practice – it’s a lot harder to persuade people to change their behaviour than buy a new product. Behaviour change techniques are one area where commercial marketers can learn from social marketers.

So now I have the definition, where do I go now? I will be researching how to engage parents with a campaign linked to sustainable transport and children, so I will be looking at directly engaging parents, existing relevant campaigns, social capital (the value placed on the social networks and sense of community in a local area) and the changes in how children interact independently with their environment.

Wish me luck!

Welcome to my Social Marketing blog


Welcome to my Social Marketing Blog!

This blog is a requirement of a module I am studying as part of a Health and Social Marketing MA at Middlesex University, that I started in September 2010. This blog will detail my learnings and journey in social marketing and items of interest linking to my research project, which aims to engage parents with a sustainable transport campaign.

This journey will ultimately lead to the creation of an engagement plan, with elements of social marketing, for an existing organisation. There is a suggested 50 hour work placement to gain an understanding of the organisation’s inner workings. I am the only student on my course, who is lucky enough to be already working on a social marketing campaign. So, I can use what I find straight away, for the benefit of my workplace.

The theoretical side of social marketing is new to me, even though I have used social marketing in one form or another for four years. As a school travel advisor, I used social marketing techniques without knowing it. Poster campaigns, leaflets, events and incentive schemes, coupled with key messaging, were used to promote walking, cycling and bus use to schoolchildren, their families and school staff, as an alternative to using the car


I hope you find information here which may be useful.

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