Social Marketing

What is social marketing?

Social marketing uses concepts and techniques from commercial marketing, in conjunction with other disciplines, to develop intervention strategies.

There has been an increased focus on social marketing in recent years because health education techniques aimed at changing behaviours have been found to be frequently ineffective, and the total annual cost of preventable illness in England is continuing to rise.

Effective interventions largely depend on a detailed understanding of the target population, they way they live their lives and the factors that are important to them. Social marketing uses multiple research techniques to identify the attitudes and beliefs that steer behaviour and to determine factors that may motivate people to change.

Social marketing and skin cancer protection

Examples of successful social marketing programmes in sun protection and skin cancer detection show that:

  • interventions that focus on appearance rather than health risks are particularly effective with adolescents;
  • children respond well to interventions that are fun, easy and popular;
  • interventions aimed at detecting skin cancers in at-risk segments of the population are effective in improving sun protection behaviours, particularly in retirees.

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