Social Change: How Can Marketing Help?
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We have created a glossary to help you with some Social Marketing specific terms used in this course that you may be unfamiliar with.

You will also find a downloadable PDF version of this glossary in the downloads section at the end of this page.


Audience orientation: is the philosophy that programs should be based on, and responsive to, the needs of the target audience (the people at the heart of the problem). Audience orientation only includes people at the heart of the problem, while stakeholder orientation focuses on understanding both the people and the organisations, at the heart of the problem. 


Behaviour change: refers to any transformation or modification of human behaviour.

Behavioural economics: is a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain economic decision-making.


Change agent (or agent of change): Someone who promotes and enables change to happen within any social, health or environmental setting.

Competition (Direct): other programs that exist that are trying to deliver the same outcomes.

Competition (Indirect): The current behaviour the person is doing (that your program is trying to swap them away from doing)

Consumer orientation: focuses the research on understanding people. A range of research methods are used to gain a deep understanding of the people, organisations and processes – components in a system.

Cost effectiveness: is the relationship between monetary inputs and the desired outcome, such as between the spending on an advertising campaign and the number of people it reaches.


Engagement: is the use of advertising, activities, and people, to involve people and create meaningful interactions and participation, over time

Exchange: involves creating a program that people and organisations are willing to buy.


Impact: is a significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social, environmental or health challenge.

Insight: is the deep understanding of what will move and motivate people and organisations to adopt, and repeat, the behaviour. Insights underpin program design.


Marketing mix: refers to the set of actions, or tactics, that a company uses to promote its brand or product in the market. The 4Ps make up a typical marketing mix – Price, Product, Promotion and Place.

Mitigate: Make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful

Multi-variate analysis: is the observation and analysis of more than one measure at a time.

Mutual benefit: requires that the benefit is common to, or shared by, both or all of two or more parties


Nudge: Altering people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives


Price: is the amount of money expected, required, or given in payment for something.

Product: is a good, service or idea offered to the market for exchange.

Program (as pertains to social marketing): is an action taken to mitigate a social, health or environmental problem.

Promotion: are the marketing activities that make potential customers, partners, and society aware of and attracted to the program.


Return on investment (ROI): is a performance measure, used to evaluate the efficiency of a program or compare the efficiency of a number of different programs


Segmentation: is the process of dividing a total market (population) into groups with relatively similar needs.

Social Marketing (iSMA Global Consensus Definition): Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. Social Marketing practice is guided by ethical principles. It seeks to integrate research, best practice, theory, and audience and partnership insight, to inform the delivery of competition sensitive and segmented social change programmes that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable.

Social media: are the various websites and platforms involving online communities where members contribute to and build the community and content and where users can substantially control their own online experience through customisation and interactivity.

Stakeholder: is any person, or organisation, who can affect or could be affected by the program’s actions, objectives and policies.

Stakeholder orientation: is the philosophy that programs should be based on, and responsive to, the needs of the people and the organisations at the heart of the problem.

Strategic thinking: is the art of planning and directing a social marketing program.

System: is the set of things working together as parts of a mechanism, or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.

Systematic literature review: is a method to identify research papers to summarise what we know from previous scientific studies. The method is clearly documented. For example, the search terms and procedure used to select studies from a set of databases is defined. This minimises bias in the results. The clear documentation of the process, and the decisions made, can be used by other researchers to reproduce and/or update the review.


Targeting: is a process of selecting one or more groups of people (segments) for program planning and implementation. Strategic planning and program implementation is focussed on what the chosen group(s) (segment) needs and wants.

Theory: is a system of ideas that explain behaviour. Theory Use: is the application of a guiding framework (theory) in the design, implementation and evaluation of a social marketing program.


Value: A person or organisation’s overall assessment of an offering based on perceptions of what is received and what is given.


Wicked problem: A social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve for as many as four reasons:

incomplete or contradictory knowledge,
the number of people and opinions involved,
the large economic burden, and
the interconnected nature of these problems with other problems.
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