What is Social Marketing?

In many ways thinking of marketing as a tool to improve peoples lives especially in terms of healthier eating, more exercise and preventing illnesses doesn’t come easy. In fact, many people would argue that aggressive commercial marketingis the cause of many of the social problems we face today: from people eating less healthily, taking less exercise to taking up occupation in high stress environments or choosing high risk lifestyles.

what_isIn this context, marketing, therefore, acts as a powerful “tool box” that may be usedto manipulate behaviour to achieve specific commercial and social outcomes. The true vale of social marketing lies in achieving “positive” goals in relation to health outcomes and other social and public aspects. In effect social marketing is the systematic application of marketing and other concepts and techniques to achieve specific behavioural goals for a social good

Social marketing as a discipline started in the 1970s, and originally was based on the idea to use commercial marketing techniques in the public sector, often competing with the communication efforts already underway. Not surprisingly, the relationship was sometimes slightly rocky, with commercial marketing organisations often underestimating the complexity of achieving sustained behaviour change, while many practitioners in the health sector often underestimated the importance of communication. However, in the last decade, social marketing has evolved to a much more integrative approach for tackling social and health-related issues, often drawing on many disciplines to develop a holistic campaign to tackle a given issue. Using such a multi-disciplinary approach, social marketing has been successfully used in a variety of settings: from health related issues, such as smoking cessation, increasing uptake of health screening programmes, reducing alcohol use, encouraging healthier eating habits and more exercise to many other issues, such as increasing seat-belt usage, decreasing energy and water usage in homes, tackling low-level anti-social behaviour and reducing car usage.

With its MA in Health & Social Marketing, Middlesex University is the first university in the UK to offer a dedicated degree in this exciting area of marketing. The programme draws on a variety of theoretical and practical backgrounds that engagesthe concept of value added social marketing.
The department of Marketing in the Business School is unique in having expertise in this area of study. An additional strength of the programme is the wide mix of students with a varied background participating in the programme: many coming from a health or charity-related background and others joining from a public sector or commercial marketing background, both from the UK and overseas. This mix makes the programme valuable to students, in that they can take full advantage of their prior knowledge and share their experiences, build upon them and synthesise a unique integrative approach to social marketing issues. As the programme is also recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), students have the opportunity to gain an additional CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing after they have graduated.

In addition to the MA, Middlesex University also offers stand alone and tailor made Continuing Personal or Professional Development (CPD) programmes. For more information, please contact Dr Stephan Dahl by email: s.dahl@mdx.ac.uk