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Differences between social marketing and societal marketing

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 1880 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Traditionally, marketing is defined as the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. In 1971, Kotler and Zaltman first invented the term ‘social marketing’ which is a very new concept in the history of marketing. To discuss social marketing, we can look into its definition first. It is defined as ‘the design, implementation and control of programs calculated to influence the acceptability of social ideas and involving considerations of product planning, pricing, communication, distribution and marketing research’. By applying marketing techniques or tools to the solution of social problems, it is believed that social marketing can encourage people to adopt a behaviour that is for the society’s well-being. To be specific, it is how marketing techniques is being used to transform the present social action ideas into a more effectively designed models or campaigns, ‘making the intangible tangible’. Through the marketing process of making the core value appears to be more tangible, the social campaign is more likely to be successful.

The elements of social marketing

People may mistakenly assume social marketing by viewing it as using commercial techniques to ameliorating social problems. This is far away from what social marketing really is because of over-simplification. Social marketing must involve the elements of:

Influencing customers’ behaviours (customer orientation)

Social marketer put focus on customers as campaign requires their active participation to get success

The social change being the primary purpose of the campaign

Event there is any organized efforts promote good social values, once their primary purpose is not promote social goods, they are not recognized as social marketing activities.

Being an exchange

Social marketing emphasizes voluntary behaviour which facilitates the process of exchange (communications and distribution are carried out).

Long-term planning approach

The duration of the social marketing should be in long-term continuing basis. It is more of the strategic planning level rather than tactical level.

Moving beyond the individual consumer.

Social marketing targets from individual customers to group or organisation. It is believed that the influence will spread through the society.

The four Ps for social marketing

Same with generic marketing, social marketing also has the key variables of the four Ps: product, pricing, promotion and place but its focus is somehow different from tradition marketing:

PRODUCT: Social issues ideas have the characteristic of intangibility which the core products (social value) is abstractive to deliver to the public, so various tangible products and services should be created to make the idea more ‘buyable’.

PROMOTION: The promotion of social marketing largely depends on the buyer readiness state. It should attempt to achieve attitude change of people, motivate people to act, carry out training and reinforcement of the program which is know as the canalization rather than the responsibility on education and value changewhich is the social reconditioning. Then the style of marketing should be chosen in the belief of its greater effectiveness of achieving the social objective.

PLACE: Clear action outlets must be provided so as to let the people translate their motivation into desirable action or express their interests on the social issue that is in favour of the campaign.

PRICE: Price includes money costs, opportunity costs, energy costs and psychological cost while the rewards for customer are usually intrinsic ones under social marketing campaign therefore it is difficult for individual customers to carry out cost-benefit analysis. To solve the problem, social marketers usually work on changing the perception of customers, making the target group think there is increasing benefits and cost reduction.

Difference between social marketing, societal marketing and socially responsible marketing

Definition of societal marketing

There is often confusion between the three terms: social marketing, societal marketing and socially responsible marketing. To start with, societal marketing is defined as ‘Societal marketing blends social, company and customers wants’, which the company should strive for a balance between its own wants, customers’ wants and the long-term welfare of society. It emphasizes on social responsibility, public welfare and the sustainable development in long-term. Social responsibility is the concept that the business is part of the larger society in which it exists and must therefore act in a way that not only advances the firm but also serves society. It is suggested the companies that only aim at increasing sales and making profit might not be able to sustain long-term success. When it comes to marketing, it includes the ethics in advertising which information must be correct and not misleading. Besides, when the company carries out any marketing strategies, the four rights of consumers must be protected, which is:

The right to safety products: the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to health or life.

The right to be informed: the right to be given the facts by marketing needed to make an informed choice or decision

The right to be heard: the right to be represented so that consumers’ interests receive fill and sympathetic consideration in the formulation and execution of policies regarding marketing.

The right to choose: the right to have access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices, and, in the case of monopolies, to have an assurance of satisfying quality and services at a fair price.

These are some general ideas and examples of how company being socially responsible in marketing.

Details of their differences

By definition, it is clear that social marketing is way different from what societal marketing.

To start with, they are completely different in terms of their nature. Social marketing integrates social issues into commercial marketing strategies. It uses commercial marketing theories, tools and techniques to social issues while societal marketing integrates the concept of social responsibility into the commercial marketing strategies. Companies will make marketing decision after considering customers’ expectation, company’s interest and the long-term interest of the society. Their direction of approaches is completely different.

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What is more, they are different in terms of the people and groups involved. Societal marketing uses regulatory issues and other efforts to protect customers. It works within the company and it is a supply-side factor that focuses on how the market behaves rather than involving target customers. In contrast, social marketing is more of a customer-oriented approach. It must involve customers’ own willingness to change their behaviour.


From the above, we can clearly see that social marketing and societal marketing have clear boundaries that should not be mixed up. Social marketing is definitely a panacea for many social problems, we can see from those very successful examples like the diminishing cigarette smoking. Though there were many severe criticisms on the early stage of social marketing, fearing that it might bring spectre of mass manipulation by planting various value in public’s mind set, through time we can see that it is now already a well-established idea that people will not have doubt on whether using it. However, we can observe that social marketing has little progress in some areas of problem like drug abuse and family planning in India. The reasons why they fail mainly go to lack of rigour, well-planned and continuous marketing efforts. Those poorly-designed campaigns will only lead to waste of scarce resources. As they show little success, their sponsors will turn away and which might also hinder the development of social marketing. Apart from the possible failure, social marketing is always criticized on increasing costs of promoting social causes even the net gain of campaign has increased, it is unavoidable that the absolute cost of raising money increases.

B. Provide examples of each of the three approaches to marketing and comment on the extent to which these represent a departure from traditional marketing practice.

Social marketing


The extent

To a very large extent of departure is social marketing different from traditional marketing practice.

Social marketing requires innovative thinking and new approaches. Only by thinking out of the box can enhance the delivery of product-market’s core beliefs and values which is difficult to conceptualise. For traditional marketing, it usually deals with superficial preferences and opinions. They might just follow the existing ways to work instead of generate new innovative ideas.

Social marketing must work harder on research and find a favour for a favour to arouse public’s interest and gain acceptance of its product as it usually target on challenging groups. On the other hand, traditional marketing tend to ignore this group and select the group that favours their products the most.

The channel systems that social marketing works with are usually those less well-defined and less pecuniarily motivated while the traditional marketing works with those well-established channels and they have many choices provided.

Societal marketing


The extent

Socially responsible marketing


In response to the customers’ right to be informed, business should comply faithfully with the entire statutory requirement on product description and give accurate and truthful information to their customers when they are carrying out marketing planning. For example, we may often receive ‘cold calls’ from Loan Company claiming how ‘zero interest and zero risk’ is involved in any lending or investment. Being socially responsible, they should let their customers know the true interest cost of a loan. Advertisements should not contain any misleading information.

Besides, to serve the consumers’ right to safety, companies spend millions of dollars on improving product safety. Many businesses have delayed the release of products until conclusive results of testing have been obtained.

Regarding the right to be heard, there is an increasing number of companies consider complaints as an early warning system that can be helpful in improving their responses to consumer complaints. Companies then speeded up and improve their responses to consumer complaints.

For the right to choose, companies should provide customers with a wide range of good quality products and services, businesses give customers an adequate choice of products that meet their needs.

The extent


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