Applying Social Marketing to Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities

Applying Social Marketing to Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities

Maria do Rosário Cabrita (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal) and Miriam Cabrita (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4430-4.ch004
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There is now an emerging view of health care as a sector of the economy. The subject is increasingly gaining the interest of policy makers and health care industry researchers as a way of modifying the incidence and impact of unhealthy behavior and disease. Health-related social marketing is the systematic application of commercial marketing principles to achieve behavioral goals relevant to improving health and reducing health inequalities. Whilst commercial marketing seeks to influence behavior for profit, social marketing encourages behaviors that provide well being for individuals or for society as a whole. Several studies set out the importance of using a social marketing approach to encourage positive health behavior. There are therefore a number of challenges and opportunities for social marketing to be used to change health care consumer behavior. Social marketing has been used to persuade a specific audience, mainly through mass media, to adopt an idea, a practice, a product, or all three. To develop social marketing programs, marketers must know about the problem to be addressed, understand the audience to be targeted, and interpret the environment in which the program will be applied. The premise is that all program planning decisions must emanate from a consideration of the consumers’ wants, demands, and needs. The aim of this chapter is to examine ways in which social marketing can help to promote health care attitudes. Exploring key concepts, the study focuses on the application of social marketing theory and principles to healthcare. Using a social marketing approach, it was examines the program UpForIt, which aims to influence students aged 16-24 years old to increase their levels of physical activity and adopt healthy eating behaviors. By examining strategies implemented, it identifies that young adults are willing to voluntarily change their lifestyle behaviors, given the appropriate target audience.
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Defining Social Marketing

Debates on concept of social marketing indicate that it is vague (Maben and Clark, 1995; Grace, 1991). Although a variety of definitions have been proposed and debates around the concept continue, social marketing is typically defined as a program-planning process that applies commercial marketing concepts and techniques to promote voluntary behavior change (Andreasen, 1995; Kotler et al., 2002).

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