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Social marketing

Social marketing is a framework for the application of the marketing discipline to social issues and causes. It has emerged from the application of marketing theory and practice to meet the practical needs to scale up solutions to health and social puzzles around the world. It is a social change tool uniquely suited to achieve social benefits by designing integrated programs that meet individual needs for moving out of poverty, enabling health, improving social conditions, and having a safe and clean environment. Social marketing began as a practice and discipline in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many of its early applications were in developing countries to address public health and social crises including population control and infectious diseases. In the early 1970s, social marketing was formally described and was used to prevent chronic diseases and reduce risk behaviors in developed countries. The principles of social marketing are being applied in agencies around the world including the US Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States; the Department for International Development and the English Department of Health in the United Kingdom; KfW Entwicklungsbank in Germany; the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency; the Netherlands Government Ministry for Foreign Affairs; the Australian Ministry for Health and Ageing; and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, among others.


Lefebvre, R., & Squire, C. (2014). Social marketing. In D. V. McQueen (Ed.), Oxford Bibliographies Online: Public Health Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756797-0100