Social Marketing



Social Marketing Definitions

Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” This technique has been used extensively in international health programs, especially for contraceptives and oral rehydration therapy (ORT). The concept of Social Marketing has been used for the first time in Afghanistan through USAID funded COMPRI-A Project and Afghan Social Marketing Organization (ASMO).


Social marketing has been defined as “the application of commercial marketing technologies to the analysis, planning, execution, and evaluation of programs designed to influence the voluntary behavior of target audiences in order to improve their personal welfare and that of their society” Social marketing practices are based on commercial marketing practices that make the consumer the central focus for planning and conducting a program. The program’s components address:

  • what the consumer must give up in order to receive the program’s benefits (these costs may be intangible [e.g., changes in beliefs or habits] or tangible [e.g., money, time, or travel])Price
  • Product—what the program is trying to change within the intended audience and what the audience stands to gain
  • Promotion—how the exchange is communicated (e.g., appeals used)
  • Place—what channels the program uses to reach the intended audience (e.g., mass media, community, or interpersonal)
  • The formulation of price, product, promotion, and place evolves from research with the consumers to determine what benefits and costs they would consider acceptable and how they might be reached. Lessons learned from social marketing stress the importance of understanding the intended audiences and designing strategies based on their wants and needs rather than what good health practice directs that they should do.

Behavior Change Communication (BCC)

The terms BCC and IEC are commonly used. What exactly do they mean and what is the difference between BCC and IEC?

Information Education Communication (IEC) is a process of working with individuals, communities and societies to develop communication strategies to promote positive behaviors which are appropriate to their settings.

Behavior Change Communication (BCC) is a process of working with individuals, communities and societies to develop communication strategies to promote positive behaviors which are appropriate to their settings;


Provide a supportive environment which will enable people to initiate and sustain positive behaviors.

Communications and Behavior Change capabilities are a major strength of ASMO to help Afghans make informed choices about products and services available through commercial and public outlets. Its goal is to build consumers’ awareness of the need for, and benefits of positive healthy behavior changes through the use of innovative and practical communication approaches.

To prepare for product campaigns, ASMO will consider the level of awareness and behavior change activities needed to introduce the product. For example, some products are familiar to the Afghan consumers, while others are new and require more extensive communication campaigns focused on demand generation and correct and sustained use.

ASMO can roll out national and regional mass media campaigns to support delivery of health messages and promote generic and branded health products. It has established commercial relationships with Afghan media for television and radio advertising and the development of audio and visual programs for local program delivery.

ASMO’s marketing program jump-starts the introduction of new products. Through the ongoing relations with ASMO’s own implementing partners it can mount extensive mass media and highly localized education and information sessions within short time frames and simultaneously coordinate those campaigns with making products available in retail outlets.