Societies around the world today face a wide range of complex social problems. In the Western world these problems include a rapidly aging population and low birth rates, mental health concerns and the constant growth of chronic diseases. Equally, in the developing world the threats include extreme poverty, acute infectious, chronic diseases, access to services, such as education, and poor infrastructure.

Globally we  face potential challenges such as climate change, limited sustainable development and regional conflicts. If we want to create a better world and deal with these wicked problems, we must use every effective tool we can. One such tool that has not been used sufficiently enough is Social Marketing.

Επίσης συλλογικά αντιμετωπίζουμε δυνατές προκλήσεις όπως η κλιματική αλλαγή, η βιώσιμη ανάπτυξη και οι διαμάχες. Αν επιθυμούμε να δημιουργήσουμε έναν κόσμο καλύτερο και να αντιμετωπίσουμε αυτά τα προβλήματα, πρέπει να αξιοποιήσουμε κάθε αποτελεσματικό εργαλείο που μπορούμε. Ένα τέτοιο εργαλείο το οποίο μέχρι σήμερα δεν έχει αξιοποιηθεί αρκετά είναι το Μάρκετινγκ.

Definition / What is Social Marketing

Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. Social Marketing practice is guided by ethical principles. It seeks to integrate research, best practice, theory, audience and partnership insight, to inform the delivery of competition sensitive and segmented social change programmes that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable.

(iSMA, ESMA, AASM, 2014).

Social Marketing / Why it is important for Society and Governments

The basis for understanding Marketing and Social Marketing is that both aim to  influence human behavior in a way that is acceptable and appreciated by the community.

As the definition implies, Social Marketing integrates  a strategic citizen-centered approach where awareness of what matters to people and the community is applied to develop effective and efficient programs supported by the majority of the targeted community.

We know that many community programs are developed without understanding what the people need, want and value and without the rigorous systematic planning approach applied by Social Marketing.

This indicates that many of those involved in policy-making and decision-making do not know or do not understand how Social Marketing will enable them to develop more appropriate social policy and programs. There are five main benefits that come from applying the Social Marketing approach as part of developing and implementing policy, these include:

  1. The policy and intervention better reflects the needs and desires of citizens
  2. Clear and measurable behavioral goals are established
  3. Reduce the optimal return on investment (ROI) and value for money (VFM) of existing policies and interventions
  4. Increase investment in interventions that demonstrate a good return on investment (ROI), and cost-benefit ratio
  5. Increased understanding about what works, what interventions or policies were effective and accepted by the public.


The European Centre for Disease Control recognises the potential of social marketing and states that the application of the methods to social non-for-profit causes and programmes has proven to be a helpful tool to enhance the effectiveness of efforts to protect and improve public health. Using social marketing tools to conduct public health improvement programs can help to clarify goals and improve success with limited public health resources.

UNITED KINGDOM The National Social Marketing Center

The UK National Consumer Council report:’It’s our health’ recognises the potential of social marketing to improve behavioural interventions and recommends the setting up of a ‘National Social Marketing Centre’ to build national and local capacity and skills in social marketing.

Social Marketing / Basic concpets and principles

The most effective way to understand Social Marketing is through its  six basic notions and the techniques  used. The classification of principles, concepts and techniques is based on those developed by French and Russell-Bennett (2015) and the International Social Marketing Association (2017).

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE: Personal and community behavior change for good.  This is the main purpose of Social Marketing.

KEY CONCEPTS | The 6 basic concepts of Social Marketing include:

  1. Orientation and targeting to the citizen
  2. Delimitation of clear social goals
  3. Transfer of value proposition through the Social Marketing Intervention Mix
  4. Segmentation of the audience based on theory, awareness, and data
  5. Competition / barrier analysis and available resources
  6. Critical thinking, reflexivity and ethics

Why now? /

Social Marketing is not a new concept. For more than 50 years globally, people and governments use Social Marketing to develop and offer programs to solve major social problems. Including disease prevention, family planning, environmental protection, economic development, crime reduction, compliance with laws and regulations.

In Greece, the appearance of Social Marketing could be traced back to the 1800s and attributed to  Kapodistrias, who, understanding the behavior and culture of the Greeks, found a creative way to communicate and convince the Greeks to include potatoes in their diet. Today social marketing is gradually becoming the leading practice in many countries for voluntary behavior change because of its excellent track record in producing quantifiable  results.