Population Services International

Public Health Brand Research: Case Studies and Future Agenda | Published 07.25.11

Author: Evans WD

Abstract: Like commercial brands do with consumers and products, public health brands build relationships between health behaviors and lifestyles made up of multiple behaviors. Like commercial brands, they can be measured by the associations they form with health behaviors and lifestyles. Brands in both sectors can also apply to organizations and upstream factors that promote organizational impact and well-being. Public health branding – building positive associations
with healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices – is a previously underutilized but growing strategy by which commercial marketing is applied in social marketing.

This article describes a framework for brand research as a tool for social marketing in public health, and its place in the toolkit of methods available to researchers. Brand research serves two functions and occupies two places on the social marketing research continuum. First, it is about measuring and evaluating determinants of brand choice. Consumers choose to use a category of branded product or behavior (e.g., condoms as a category of product) and individual branded products within a category (e.g., Durex condoms in South Africa) due to market factors such as price, availability, and to the brand associations they form with the category or individual product. Brand research is concerned with identifying and analyzing those determinants of brand choice and informing brand managers to improve brand positioning and execution. Thus, it represents a kind of formative research.


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