Skip main navigation

Empowering communities to change

Social marketing offers the most citizen focused and empowered response to social change
A diverse range of happy smiling people
© Griffith University

Social marketing does not manipulate people or tell them what to do. Rather, social marketing focuses on delivering lasting programs, services, products, and support, that people value.

Social marketers understand the influences on people and know that people at the heart of the problem aren’t fully in control of all of the influences.

Consider the Foresight Obesity Map. It outlines many factors known to contribute to obesity, and shows how factors interact to cause overweight and obesity. Overweight and obesity is a global issue impacting billions of people on our planet.

When you explore the Foresight Obesity interactive map it becomes obvious that not all influences can be directly controlled by an overweight or obese person. Factors that can be directly controlled by individuals are

  • the amount and types of food purchased and consumed and
  • the amount and types of exercise undertaken each and every day.

You will see that other higher level factors indicated on the Foresight Obesity map that influence obesity are grouped (e.g. social psychology). When we look at the Foresight Obesity map we see that education is a factor that contributes to an individual’s weight. For example, those with higher food literacy – which is an understanding of which foods are, and are not, good for you – have lower rates of overweight and obesity.

Complex problems require many different solutions

We as social marketers understand that many problems are complex and any program designed to affect behavioural change needs to look beyond people who are at the heart of the problem.

As we have learned in the Foresight Obesity map there are many contributing factors to a problem involving organisations, processes and people. All of these need to be understood to deliver lasting change.

Stakeholders are people, and organisations, who have a vested interest in the problem including anyone who is involved in trying to overcome the problem.

Social marketers need to understand the vested interests of all stakeholders involved and they need to work with all people involved to effect change. Therefore, the marketing ideas of value and exchange are applied in program planning for each and every stakeholder ensuring that mutual benefit is delivered for all stakeholders involved.

For now, we will focus on how social marketers deliver value to the people at the heart of the problem. This will help you to understand some of the basic principles that you need to apply to build win-win solutions.

Your task

Revisit the Foresight Obesity Map and investigate the factors impacting obesity. Use the comments link below to tell us how you would try to start to deliver change to reduce obesity.

© Griffith University
This article is from the free online

Social Change: How Can Marketing Help?

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education