A strategy that uses marketing concepts — product design, appropriate pricing, sales and distribution, and communications — to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater good.1 Social marketing programs sell subsidized products through commercial sector outlets like pharmacies, distribute products for free, deliver health services through social franchises, and promote behaviors not dependent upon a product or service, like hand washing.
Successful social marketing programs seek insight into their consumers and the market and target segments of the population most likely to change
Effective approaches, like condom social marketing and social franchising of health services, should be replicated and scaled up
More social marketing evaluations are needed to fill gaps in the evidence
How Do We Know If Social Marketing Makes People Healthier?
In response to questions about the effectiveness of social marketing in global health, we systematically reviewed all literature published between 1995 and 2013 on social marketing for HIV, reproductive health, malaria, child survival, and tuberculosis in developing countries.2 After reviewing more than 6500 studies, we found 109 studies looking at whether social marketing makes people healthier. Here's what these studies tell us about what social marketing programs can achieve.
20 Studies: Increases in risk perception, knowledge, and self-efficacy about HIV/AIDS
10 Studies: Positive changes in social norms and attitudes about modern contraception and family planning
20 Studies: 18-40% increases in insecticide-treated bednet ownership. Free distribution may outperform social marketing in increasing coverage
21 Studies: Improvements in knowledge and attitudes about water treatment, zinc treatment, vitamin supplements, and food fortifications
18 Studies: Up to 100% increase in HIV condom use, 49% reduction in needle sharing, and increase in HIV testing. No effects for partner reduction
13 Studies: Up to 55% increase RH in modern contraceptive use. Improvements in service utilization and quality of care
21 Studies: 15-40% increases for infant use of bednets. 20-40% increases for other populations. Three studies on malaria treatment
28 Studies: Up to 25% increase in LD latrine use, 43% increase in chemically IVAL treating water. Increases in consumption of nutrient-rich and fortifed foods
1 Study: 64% increase in sputum smear testing
8 Studies: Reductions of up to 53% in HIV prevalence and 77% in STI prevalence, and 79% increase in STI cure rate
1 Study: No difference in unplanned pregnancy found between treatment and control
10 Studies: Reductions in parasitemia, anemia, and child mortality
11 Studies: 5% reduction in anemia, increases in serum retinol in women and children, statistically significant reduction in diarrhea
2 Studies: 50% increase in TB case notification rate and 52% increase in new cases of smear positive pulmonary TB
The Social Marketing Evidence Base:
Compiling The Data
The Social Marketing Evidence Base is a resource that compiles evaluations of social marketing interventions by PSI, other NGOs, and academic institutions in the health areas where we work. To develop this resource, we completed these steps: