Societal Marketing and Social Marketing

Societal Marketing and Social Marketing

Societal Marketing and Social Marketing

Societal marketing should not be confused with social marketing. The societal marketing concept was a forerunner of sustainable marketing in integrating issues of social responsibility into commercial marketing strategies. In contrast to that, social marketing uses commercial marketing theories, tools and techniques to social issues. Social marketing applies a “customer orientated” approach and uses the concepts and tools used by commercial marketers in pursuit of social goals like Anti-Smoking-Campaigns or fund raising for NGOs.


The objective of social marketing may not necessarily be profit oriented, but a preemptive network against unnecessary and preventable morbidity, which affects the individual and society adversely. It is not uncommon to see social marketing efforts been central government and donor funded. Societal marketing aims at long term profitability.

Societal marketing may simply refer to the practice where a company attempts to be socially responsive and responsible in the provision of good and services that best suit the needs of its clientele. A poorly constructed building that collapses on the inhabitants, a fake drug that has little or no active ingredient etc are not capable of being credited with societal marketing credentials.

The elements of social marketing

People may mistakenly assume social marketing by viewing it as using commercial techniques to ameliorating social problems. This is far away from what social marketing really is because of over-simplification. Social marketing must involve the elements of:

Influencing customers’ behaviours (customer orientation)

Social marketer put focus on customers as campaign requires their active participation to get success

The social change being the primary purpose of the campaign

Event there is any organized efforts promote good social values, once their primary purpose is not promote social goods, they are not recognized as social marketing activities.

Being an exchange

Social marketing emphasizes voluntary behaviour which facilitates the process of exchange (communications and distribution are carried out).

Long-term planning approach

The duration of the social marketing should be in long-term continuing basis. It is more of the strategic planning level rather than tactical level.

Moving beyond the individual consumer.

Social marketing targets from individual customers to group or organisation. It is believed that the influence will spread through the society.



As we mentioned above Societal Marketing can be defined as a “Marketing with a social dimension or marketing that includes non-economic criteria”. Societal Marketing “concerns for society’s long term interests” .It is about “the direct benefits for the organization and secondary benefit for the community” . It makes a difference between the immediate consumer’s satisfaction and the long term consumer benefits.

Social Marketing is a discipline that began in 1971, with Kotler and Zaltman. It is defined as an “adaptation of commercial marketing technologies to programs designed to influence the voluntary behavior of target audiences to improve their personal welfare and that of the society of which they are a part”. Social Marketing uses more traditional commercial techniques and strategies, focusing on selling, to achieve goals for the greater social good. Its campaigns can either encourage merit goods, as for example fund raising for Not-for-profit organizations or dissuade the use of demerit goods promoting society’s well being, as Non-smoking campaigns or promote the use of seat belts. Another characteristic of Social marketing is, that is planned to influence individuals’ behavior to improve their well-being. It includes “more than just advertising in print media, radio or television”, it includes sponsorship or online marketing and is usually planned or implemented by governmental and nongovernmental organizations. A clear example that differentiates Societal from Social Marketing is a marketing campaign on non-smoking. A focusing smoking cessation advertisement is an example of social marketing, but if the marketing strategies and techniques used in that campaign focus on increasing the well-being of society, that same campaign can be an example of societal marketing.


Another Example: Societal Marketing and CSR

As different from Societal Marketing, CSR has existed for many years. Another difference is that CSR “focuses more in a corporate level and stakeholders”, while Societal Marketing, is more concerned about the consumer and their long term benefits. CSR social and environmental concerns are integrated into all business operations. Comparing CSR to Social Marketing, the first one is mainly run by companies, while Social Marketing mainly by Government or Non profits organizations. One example of CSR among companies is what Haagen-Dazs is doing with their “microsite” to raise awareness to the general public about the preservation of the honeybee.


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