What is Cause Marketing?

Social cause marketing has emerged from being thought of as a contradiction in terms to being a real force to be reckoned with, an attempt to combine powerful marketing methods, for the sake of health, education and raising awareness. Some marketing is conducted to directly address a social dilemma or cause. Cause- related marketing is done by a corporation to support a cause. Social marketing is done by a non profit or government organisations to further a cause, such as “say no to drugs” or “exercise more and eat better”. (Kotler and Keller, 2006)

Social marketing is distinct from Not- for- profit marketing, which includes marketing activities conducted by individuals and organisations to achieve some goal other than the ordinary business goals of profit, market share or return on investment. However, although a non- profit organisation main purpose is to attain those goals. Thus a charity, such as the Red Cross, must raise resources to support its generous work. Non- profit marketing can be separated into two categories: non- profit organisation marketing and social marketing. Non- profit organisation marketing is the application of marketing concepts and techniques to organisations such as hospitals and colleges. Social marketing is the development of programmes designed to influence the acceptability of social ideas, such as getting people to recycle more newspapers, plastics and aluminium, or promoting the regeneration of a deprived inner- city area. (Sally et al, 2006)

Social Marketing as defined by Rob Donovan is “The application of marketing concepts and techniques, to exchanges that result in the achievement of socially desirable aims, with objectives to benefit society as a whole.” (Perera, 2006)

Challenges for Social Marketing

The ideology of social marketing can relate to really varied set of social problems wherever the base line is influencing behaviour. However as managers and funding agencies begin to elongate the notion of social marketing into more unidentified area, it is important to repeat the subsequent cautions about the following basic principles, which- in their haste to adopt the very latest social engineering fad- they may ignore.

Social marketing is about behaviour change. It is not merely about education and propaganda, a person should not visualise they are doing social marketing if their prime motive is informing the community or trying to change some basic values. These are worthwhile goals and they may precede social marketing. But they are not to be bewildered with social marketing. In effect, social marketing is not social advertising. Although communications implements are often essential to social marketing programs, it is much more than just communication to the masses. (Goldberg, Fishbein and Middlestadt, 1997)

Social marketing cannot be cut up into its various constituent parts of concepts and tools (like focus group research), to be randomly used as needed or dispersed throughout conventional approaches like health, education. It has, first of all, a specific focus that puts customers at the core of everything that the marketer does. Second, it is a procedure of doing social marketing. This procedure involves persistently going back and forth to the target market before and after planning and before and after execution. And, it is finally, a set of synchronised interventions that do not rely on communications. Many of the complications and challenges faced by social marketers arise from the stark differences between the application of social marketing, compared with its progenitor, commercial marketing. (Goldberg, Fishbein and Middlestadt, 1997)

Social marketers must often deal with huge problems where the expectations of funding agencies, governments and the general public are very high. Yet, these very same problems usually involve very basic behaviours, attitudes and principles. Changing the way Pakistani men treat young women in their society is a lot more difficult than getting more kids in the USA to eat Froot Loops. As various scholars have noted, social marketers have several special issues with which to deal:

Varied demand

It is wrong to say that marketers create needs, but instead capitalise on needs that have previously been undetected for new categories of products. Social marketers however often have to deal with none- existent demand– for example, where targets of a contraceptive social marketing program are members of a particular religious group who believe that children are “Gods plan” and cannot be prevented or spaced. Even more challenging is overcoming negative demand– for example, where drivers feel that driving under 55 mph or wearing seat belts in too strict. (MacFadyen L et al, 1999)

Benefits of the product

This is linked very much to the challenges of varied demand. The benefit of the product may be invisible- for example where one is promoting driving under 55 mph or getting a child inoculated but where success means that nothing happened (preventative measures) (i.e. no accidents or no measles), which makes it hard for the target audience to see a connection between the recommended behaviour and specific outcomes. The benefit may be also of no personal consequence to the consumer– for example, where one is trying to get individual households to recycles even though they do not directly benefit and, in fact, pay real costs. Benefits are often hard to portray– for examples, where one would like to show the outcome of safe sex or family planning without using clichéd pictures of happy, healthy individuals and families. (MacFadyen L et al, 1999)

Complexity of the product

Traditional marketing has focused on substantial products that can be controlled in terms of its packaging, physical attributes etc, but with changes in the market’s scope, marketers have to adapt to strategies focusing on areas such as services. Social marketers have it even harder, trying to change ideas embedded in cultural beliefs. Problems arise from intense public enquiry- example, where village leaders feel that a new breast feeding or oral rehydration program is a hostile Western attempt to eliminate traditional values and social patterns. (MacFadyen L et al, 1999)

(The figure on the page illustrates the different types of social marketing product. Adapted from Kotler and Roberto, 1989).

Challenging Target Groups

Social marketers must often target groups who commercial marketers tend to ignore: the least accessible, hardest to reach and least likely to change their behaviors. These can include non- literate and/or extremely impoverished target marketsfor example, when villagers cannot afford either the cost of condoms or, alternatively get the time to go to health clinics to get free ones and highly sensitive issues- for example, where one wishes to ask Muslim women about their sexual behaviours in order to develop a more effective safe sex campaign. (Goldberg, Fishbein and Middlestadt, 1997)

Social marketing is not a crowd marketing. Indeed, as noted later, one of social marketing’s important contributions is to insist that markets almost always need to be segmented, and in many cases segmented in alternative ways. Finally, changing behaviour in many cases is only the first step. Too many programs are short lived, designed as one- tome campaigns. For the difficult behaviours with which many social programs are involved, such as quick fixes are likely to have equally quick lifetimes. (Goldberg, Fishbein and Middlestadt; 1997)