The Use of Research in Social Marketing

The Design Phase

Research during the design phase helps planners:

  • Determine the prevalence of the problem overall and among specific sub-audiences.
  • Select audiences to target in order to achieve maximum individual and social benefit.
  • Identify the unique communication needs, media habits, and preferences of the different audience segments.
  • Catalogue the social, cultural and structural/environmental factors that positively or negatively influence behavior.
  • Identify sources of personal influence over the behavior of intended audience members.

Concept testing and retesting are important steps in the design process that help planners explore the Four Ps and determine a favorable marketing mix.

  • What attributes of a product are valued?
  • What perceived costs are associated with the desired behavior?
  • Where can or must the exchange take place and how can it be most convenient?
  • What promotional strategies, formats, presentations, and placement channels will reach and appeal to targeted audiences and are likely to motivate the behaviors?

The Use of Research in Social Marketing: Implementation

Research tracks progress by asking:

  • Is the program being implemented as designed?
  • What is the level of exposure within the intended audience?
  • Is the timing of activities and message distribution going as planned?
  • Is the program beginning to have an impact?
  • Does the program need adjustment and fine-tuning at midcourse?

The Use of Research in Social Marketing: Evaluation

Research helps determine program effectiveness and can answer the following:

  • Did anything change during the program?
  • What did the program contribute to those changes?
  • Which parts of the program explain the most change?
  • How much did it cost to achieve specific outcomes or effects?
  • Which parts of the program should be continued or strengthened?