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Gesundheitswesen. 2010 Jan;72(1):54-62. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1241890. Epub 2009 Nov 12.

[Social marketing--seduction with the aim of healthy behavior?].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Institut für Medizinmanagement und Gesundheitswissenschaften Universität Bayreuth. julika.loss@uni-bayreuth.de


SOCIAL MARKETING - SEDUCTION WITH THE AIM OF HEALTHY BEHAVIOR? Social marketing is the use of marketing principles to design and implement programs that promote socially beneficial behaviour change. Contrary to the marketing of consumption goods, social marketing does not deal with material products, but with behaviour, e. g. not smoking. This 'product' has a basic benefit (i. e. reduction of health risks in the long run), which is, however, difficult to convey. Therefore, the intended change in behaviour has to be related to a further reward which consists of symbolic goods, e. g. social appreciation or a better body feeling. The communication policy is essential for information on and motivation for the preventive issue. Social marketing campaigns whose development and management follow the principles of classical marketing can render preventive efforts more effective. In addition, social marketing can lead to a better quality management as compared to conventional preventive activities. These advantages can be explained by a) tailoring the campaign more specifically to the target group's needs and motives, b) presenting health risks more convincingly, and c) continuously analysing and evaluating the campaign and its effects. On the other hand, the marketing of preventive aims through mass media can bear several risks, as exemplified by different national and international public health campaigns. The necessity to communicate briefly and succinctly can lead to misleading simplifications and, in case of cancer screening, to the trivialization of a behaviour's consequences and adverse effects. Also, many campaigns do not intend to educate and inform, but try to persuade target persons of a certain behaviour, using emotions such as fear. This has led to social marketing being criticized as manipulation. Sometimes, social marketing campaigns cause stigma and discrimination of certain population subgroups, e. g. obese or HIV-positive people. Health promoters who plan mass media campaigns can be recommended to follow marketing principles in order to improve the campaign's impact. However, they should also consider possible adverse effects of the communication strategy on the social perception of health behavior, health risks and the responsibility of certain subgroups.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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