“For our purposes, we can define social marketing as the use of commercial marketing approaches to influence people to voluntarily adopt a behavior that helps animals.” Caryn Ginsberg, Animal Impact
Virtually everyone is familiar with traditional marketing campaigns employed by companies and large corporations. Many of these campaigns turn everyday people into customers who buy the company’s products or services. The idea behind social marketing is that the same marketing principles may be employed to successfully convince everyday people to adopt new ideas, attitudes or behaviors.
Social marketing is used in a wide range of health and social justice-related fields, but can be enormously useful in advocating for animals as well. As advocates, the vast majority of the work we do involves behavioral change of some kind, from encouraging people to to spay or neuter, change their eating habits, or simply to treat animals with compassion. Implementing social marketing into your advocacy strategy can help you use your resources more effectively while at the same time improving the success of your campaigns.
Four major components of social marketing for the benefit of animals include:
- Choosing a specific behavior that is responsible for animal welfare problems.
- Clearly identifying and understanding your target audience and which of their behaviors you are interested in changing.
- Understanding what costs and barriers exist for your target audience in changing their behavior, and determining how you can create benefits that offset these costs and barriers.
- Measuring the success of your campaign, and modifying it so that you keep the elements that are working and discard the ones that are not.
A company selling a product would use this model by choosing who they want to buy its product, understanding why this audience does not buy the product, and then working to make buying its product more appealing than not buying the product. Similarly, by using these principles, your organization will be able to understand the problems that prevent your audience from adopting your desired behavior, and will be placed in the position to alleviate or solve that problem and make your desired behavior more appealing than alternatives.
The concept of social marketing holds great potential for reducing negative behaviors which contribute to animal suffering. In upcoming blogs, we will explore different aspects of social marketing and highlight resources that may be of interest to organizations looking to implement social marketing strategies into their own work, so be sure to check back soon!