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World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Social Marketing and Social Change
3500 E Fletcher Ave, Suite 530
Tampa, FL 33613

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What is Social Marketing?

Social Marketing is the use of marketing principles and techniques to influence behavior that is beneficial to the individual and the community in which they reside. The core features of social marketing that distinguish it from other social change approaches is the use of marketing concepts to design a comprehensive and integrated intervention, with a focus on changing behavior and the promotion of social good.

A unique feature of social marketing is the use of consumer research to make a series of strategic decisions. By understanding consumers–their dreams and desires as well as fears and needs–marketers can carefully select specific behaviors to promote, segment large populations into distinct subgroups or segments, and select those that will give them the best opportunity to do the most good. Research plays a key role in helping marketers understand how to make the behavior they are promoting more attractive than the competition, and develop an integrated marketing plan. The marketing plan answers key questions, or is a blueprint, with a set of strategic marketing decisions that must be made.

Social marketing has been used to plan and implement many successful social change initiatives, including those resulting in dramatic increases in energy conservation, recycling, and the reduction of risk behaviors such as smoking and drunk driving.2 Social marketing also has been used effectively to reposition community perceptions of socially beneficial programs and increase service utilization.1  

To learn more about social marketing and how it has been used at USF, please visit the following pages: 

  1. Bryant, C.A., Lindenberger, J. H., Brown, C, Kent, E., Schreiber, J. M., Bustillo, M., & Canright, Marsha Walker. (2001). A social marketing approach to increasing enrollment in a public health program - Case Study of the Texas WIC Program. Human Organization, 60 (3): 234-246.

  2. Kotler, P. and Lee, N. (2008). Social Marketing: Influencing Behavior for Good. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

  • Projects

    • Scaling up and Evaluating Salt Reduction Policies and Programs in Latin American Countries
      Project Aim: To reduce dietary salt intake across the Americas to 5g/day, this project focuses on scaling up existing interventions and developing new programs and policies.  Project aim is to build capacity and provide training and technical assistance to Peru, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Brazil. The four countries are learning about the social marketing process and applying it by engaging in consumer focused research, developing a social marketing plan and starting the process of developing an intervention. 
      Duration: 2016-2019
      Funding:  International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
    • Social Marketing Training and Technical Assistance to Reduce Daily Salt Intake amongst the Nations of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines
      Project Aim: Build capacity of Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) and four country partners towards their common goal of reducing dietary sodium/salt intake.  WHO CC on Social Marketing provided training and technical assistance to the HCC and four countries. Products from the project include a strategy formation workbook, marketing plan and results from a social marketing design workshop.
      Duration: 2015-2016
      Funding: Pan American Health Organization
  • Project Activity Press Releases