Application of social marketing in 4Ps is different from other integrated marketing communication tools. According to Tian and Borges (2012, p. 102), price in social marketing means what a customer have to trade off to obtain benefit. On the other hand, price in other IMC tools is the amount thay a consumer pays for the product. Moreover, the product in social marketing cannot only be a physical offering. It can be a physical product, services, practice and intangible idea (Domegan, 2008, 136). Meanwhile, place in social marketing can be clear-cut as some products are intangible (Thackeray & Brown, 2010, 167). Additionally, as Lefebvre (2011, p.59) and Andreasen (2002, p. 4) find, for promotion in social marketing, it do not only focus on creating and sustaining demand for one brand’s product, but also for a whole industry or a new consumer way.
There are several strengths of social marketing as well as weaknesses.
As social marketing is an application of “marketing principle and exchange to social issues” (Lefebvre, 2011, p.59), it is widely used in the areas of public health and environment. In the areas of dealing with obesity, family planning, safe sex (Andreasen, 2005, p. 8) and recycling (Hastings, 2003, p. 12), there are many successful cases about the application of social marketing. Marketers usually make social marketing strategies focusing on a specific social issue. Moreover, according to Ross (2011, p. 87), most of social marketing strategies focus on individual level behavior change. Marketers try to persuade individuals to change spending habit, dietary habit or their lifestyles in order to sell their products and services. Therefore, social marketing, on some level, keeps a good balance between satisfying consumers’ needs and solving social problems. However, marketers may ignore the limitation of the way to solve the social issue for the purpose of selling more products. As Wymer (2011, p. 21) mentions, social marketers may apply a marketing solution though it may be ineffective. Or they may over emphasize the effectiveness of their products on dealing with social problems. For example, obesity is a complex problem which is related to food industry’s offerings and modern lifestyles such as widespread usage of automobiles. However, social marketers may emphasize that obesity can be reduced or solved by using one product or service while it may be ineffective for dealing with this issue well. This kind of marketing strategy can do little about social problems. It is unsurprisingly unsuccessful.
To sum up, social marketing can help corporations to link the consumers’ needs to social issues, which may pay an essential role in their long term development. On the other hand, it is probably to ignore the social problems aiming at selling the products. Therefore, social marketers should keep a good balance between their marketing strategies and social issues.
Andreasen, A. (2002). Marketing social marketing in the social change marketplace. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 21(1), 3-13. Retrieved from: