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Building programs that people want

Sharyn Rundle Thiele talks about how social marketers ensure that all stakeholders will benefit from participating in, or and supporting, programs del
Some raw vegetables beside a handwritten recipe on a wooden table
© Griffith University

Social marketers ensure that all stakeholders will benefit from participating in, or supporting, programs delivered. This is done to help ensure lasting change. We think of this as building I win – you win solutions.

Let’s take a closer look at how four social marketing benchmarks are applied to deliver social change.


Your program has to be better than other programs. People also have to feel that they are getting more benefits from participating in your program than they would get from continuing to do the behaviour we are trying to change.

Using the ‘Waste Not Want Not’ program as an example, the meal a person can make from the left overs in their fridge has to be easy to make and it has to taste better than an easy takeaway meal.

By thinking competitively social marketers know they have to build programs that win.


Theories explain how things work in the world. Applying behaviour and behavioural change theories gives you a guide that you can reliably use. Theories offer factors that are known to explain a behaviour or that can be applied to achieve change. More than 80 different behaviour and behaviour change theories exist. Online tools are available to help you to think about the factors known to change behaviour that you should consider.

One comprehensive way of understanding more about how to change people’s behaviour is the Behavioural Change Taxonomy developed by University College London. A free online training tool is available to guide you through the behaviour change basics. The taxonomy delivers the best of what we currently know about how programs have been created to achieve behaviour change.


Insight comes from applying:

  1. a stakeholder orientation,

  2. segmentation to understand the different types of people,

  3. competition thinking, and

  4. theory.

Time spent listening and learning about what people and organisations need helps to see common issues. We use the top three or four things to guide our program build. We call this insight.

Armed with insight social marketers understand that for meaningful and long term change to occur one or more exchanges has to take place. Recall that research undertaken for the ‘Waste Not Want Not’ program identified that people didn’t know what to do with food left in their fridge.

This insight was used to develop a program to reduce food waste. The program offered recipes to households to help them to use food that was already available in their fridge. By using up the food that is already in the fridge, households can produce less food waste and our program goals are met.

Direct exchange

Remember that exchange is a two way concept that encourages social marketers to think about what a person receives in return for participating in a program that aims to deliver behaviour change.

In its most direct form exchange involves the exchange of money to purchase an exercise or healthy eating program to lose weight or a condom to have safe sex.

Please watch the Road Crew video to learn how social marketing was applied in the USA to reduce drink driving to prevent road fatalities and injury.

Road Crew offered a limousine service for a $US15 fee to stop people from drinking alcohol and then driving under the influence. The aim was to improve road safety. By thinking about direct exchange in our program design we can create programs that are sustainable. The money charged for the service provided was affordable and people were willing to pay. Creating a revenue stream ensures that funding is available over time to continue the program delivering the service support needed to reduce drink driving.

Your task

Think about the ‘Waste Not Want Not’ program. What could be offered to achieve direct exchange? Use the comments link below to post your ideas.


Rothschild, M.L., Mastin, B. Miller, T.W. (2006) “Reducing alcohol-impaired driving crashes through the use of social marketing”, Accident Analysis & Prevention, 38(6), 1218-1230.

© Griffith University
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Social Change: How Can Marketing Help?

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