The concept of social marketing is relevant not only in modern sales but also in the healthcare sector. An opportunity to affect people’s behavior is one of those aspects that are used in medicine as the means of influencing patients. Modern approaches to using this technique have changed compared to earlier techniques, but the key methods are still based on the four core principles of the theory of social marketing. This work is aimed at identifying these principles, the examples of their impact on people’s behavior, as well as identifying the responsibilities and competencies of health education specialists related to the theory in question.
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Four Main Principles of the Social Marketing Theory
Social marketing is aimed at changing undesirable behavior in the context of economic, social, political, or technological circumstances and environmental factors in conditions of limited resources. According to French and Russell-Bennett (2015), the basic principles of this approach are as follows: impact on social behavior, building appropriate relationships, forming a consumer or civic focus, and social offerings. The proper application of these features in the context of influencing behavior may have meaningful outcomes.
Examples of the Theory’s Application
The considered theory may have a significant impact on healthy and unhealthy behavior. When analyzing the practice of using social marketing, Maher, Ryan, Kernot, Podsiadly, and Keenihan (2016) give an example of the impact on healthy behavior and mention quitting smoking due to appropriate advertising. At the same time, according to the authors, the opposite effect is also possible (Maher et al., 2016). The active promotion of alcoholic beverages for marketing purposes is fraught with the addiction of the population, which affects health indicators negatively. Consequently, this theory is an effective and efficient mechanism that has an impact on mass behavior.
Modern Social Marketing Approach
Over the past decades, humanity has gone through a rather complicated path of development, and in the context of the impact of social marketing on the masses, approaches have changed. What was previously considered natural, for instance, widespread smoking or continuous epidemics, are the targets for changes in the modern world? According to the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (2016), today, to influence health behaviors effectively, it is required to increase biomedical innovations to stimulate public health support to help people save their lives. This principle of support is a potentially efficient and useful practice.
Examples of Promoting Health Behavior Changes
Based on the viewed video presented by the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (2016), the areas in which the promotion of health behavior changes has justified itself are smoking and contraception. The authors cite obvious examples: about 1.5 million Americans stopped smoking after participating in a relevant assistance program, and in Indonesia, the number of unplanned pregnancies dropped almost twice (The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative, 2016). These statistics confirm the success of specific effects on health behaviors through social marketing.
Responsibilities and Competencies of a Health Education Specialist
To apply the social marketing theory successfully, a health education specialist should not only possess certain skills but also be responsible. In particular, all planned change projects are to have a reasonable background and qualified execution. Also, the impact on health behavior is impossible without responsibility to the target audience for the resources and methodologies utilized. In case health educators do not have an appropriate professional category and knowledge about the features of certain implementations, the likelihood of influence failure arises. Therefore, a careful approach and preparation for planned projects are mandatory conditions.
The social marketing theory applicable to people’s behaviors can be a valuable tool if implemented correctly. The basic principles of this concept create a solid background for interventions, and both healthy and unhealthy influences may be achieved. In modern practice, the development of innovations is a valuable technique for the protection of the population. Health educators should adhere to certain competencies and be responsible for any interventions based on the use of the social marketing theory.
French, J., & Russell-Bennett, R. (2015). A hierarchical model of social marketing. Journal of Social Marketing, 5(2), 139-159. Web.
The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative. (2016). The SBCC challenge [Video file]. Web.
Maher, C., Ryan, J., Kernot, J., Podsiadly, J., & Keenihan, S. (2016). Social media and applications to health behavior. Current Opinion in Psychology, 9, 50-55. Web.