Monday, 14 June 2010

The role of Social Marketing in Sustainable Development

Social Marketing is a systematic application of marketing to promote specific non-commercial goals for a social good. The primary focus or motive is to achieve social benefits other than financial gains with specific audience or general. It is in relation to different relevant issues to social good; sanitation, hygiene, growth, sustainable development, education etc, planned for social benefits. It can be more effective and efficient if it is used more strategically to inform both policy formation and strategically development.

The system was first heard during the 1970’s when Philip Kokler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same methods of marketing that were used to sell goods to people could as well be use to project ideas. In late 1980s Health promotion campaigns began applying social marketing. The early notable developments took place in Australia and they include the Victoria Cancer Council developing its Anti-Tobacco Campaign, SunSmart developing its Campaign Against Skin Cancer and Craig Lefebvre and June Flora also used social marketing to promote public health in communities.

In Australia, Work Safe Victoria, an Occupational Health Safety Organization has used social marketing as a tool to reduce the social and human impact of workplace safety failing. It ran Home Comings, a campaign that was later adopted in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia in 2006 and named the Australian Marketing Institution Marketing Programme of the year 2007. Dance Safe followed the ideas of social marketing in its communication channel.

Also in 2007, the United Kingdom Government announced the development of its first social strategy for all aspects of health promotion. In fact the practices of social marketing have been in progress in several countries other countries before now. All represent steps to achieve both strategic and operational use of social marketing. In India, AIDS controll programmes are broadly using the system with professionally trained social workers.

Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP) is one of the non-profit organizations that practice social marketing in Nigeria. The non-profit organization aims to improve access to clean drinking water in rural communities in Nigeria where access to clean water is severely constrained, particularly those that have been environmentally ravaged through mineral and oil exploration as well as huge population density.

It is to note that millions of people in Nigeria lack access to safe drinking water. In view of this and in line with the Millennium Development Goals, RAWDP scheme involves the production of Mor-Sand water filters to aid households’ access to portable drinking water. It is aimed at assisting every household to adopt effective and affordable point of use water treatment technology at minimal cost in doing this; it also aims to achieve clean drinking water for all and better health for every community member.

It would be recalled that the Mor-Sand water filter was not brought from outside or imported but was built and designed in the communities by RAWDP staff in the communities and with the support of the village heads and youths who are trained on the technology; a novel strategy in Nigeria. As a prelude, social marketing (sales and distributions) was adopted before the installation of the water filters. The social marketing was a success with the participation and assistance of the trainees.

The system gives the people strong knowledge and insight about Mor-Sand filter. It makes them perceive their genuine problem (lack of good water) and that the product (Mor-Sand filter) offered becomes good solution to the problem. It creates sustainability and increased demand of the product.

The system involves group distribution and sale with the use of Hand Push trucks. It served as the most effective and efficient means to reach the targeted group in community. It provided another opportunity for the staff of RAWDP to listen to the needs and desires of the people themselves, and informed them the more. Also gives room for more research and constant re-evaluation of every aspects of the project. In fact, research and evaluation together form the very cornerstone of the system process.

The price of the product was fixed after many issues were considered; if the product is priced too low, or provided free, the user may perceive it as being low in quality; too high, user may not afford it. The price is balanced after consideration of the cost of production to increase perceptions of quality and to confer a sense of dignity to the transaction as some of the money generated were managed by the community and used to buy Sand and Gravel which are used as media in the filter.

Social marketing is not restricted to a particular spectrum of client; the non-profit organization, the health services group, the international agency etc though often they are the clients of social marketing agencies. To induce social change, hence development in the society the corporate organizations, government may directly or indirectly involve through funding of good project initiated by non-profit or charitable organizations etc. With this and many more vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals will be achieved.

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