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Social marketing involves communication and persuasion to effect behaviour change within group of people in the society. It is about marketing a behaviour change that will benefit not only the community, but also the individual in question. Social marketing is a great way of making a difference in people’s life by actively engaging and persuading them to adopt healthier behaviours in place of their unhealthy ones. Human beings always have attendance to stick to their old ways of living and doing things. Therefore, for a health and beneficial initiative to succeed, aggressive social marketing strategies need to be applied.
Diabetes is among the most common diseases in the world. Globally, as of 2010[update], an estimated 285 million people had diabetes, with type 2 making up about 90% of the cases
(Melmed, Polonsky, Larsen & Kronenberg, 2011). Its incidence is increasing rapidly, and by 2030, this number is estimated to almost double (Wild, Roglic, Green, Sicree & King, 2004). Diabetes mellitus occurs throughout the world, but is more common (especially type 2) in the more developed countries. The greatest increase in prevalence is, however, expected to occur in Asia and Africa, where most patients will probably be found by 2030 (Wild et al, 2004). The increase in incidence in developing countries follows the trend of urbanization and lifestyle changes, perhaps most importantly a "Western-style" diet. This has suggested an environmental (i.e., dietary) effect, but there is little understanding of the mechanism(s) at present, though there is much speculation, some of it most compellingly presented (Wild et al, 2004).
Knowing one’s blood glucose level is beneficial, even for those who are not at any risk of diabetes. However, it is most important for both type 1 and 2 diabetics. Non-diabetics are advised to know their blood glucose levels in order to detect any possible problems early enough. If detected early, diabetes can be treated or managed effectively. On the other hand, individuals suffering from diabetes need to know how their bodies are responding to insulin, and when they need a shot. For type 1 diabetics, knowing their blood glucose level (BGL) ensures that they do not suffer from hypoglycaemia for administering the shot late, or hyperglycaemia from administering it when the body does not need it. Knowing their BGL will ensure that they know when exactly they require their insulin shot (Özcan, 2003).
Type 2 diabetics are not able to measure their BGL at home because they have insulin in their system, thus their BGL is within normal range for most of the time. Therefore, they need to see a physician for a glycated hemoglobin level that is meant to determine a three-month average of BGL. From these results, they can find out if they need to start watching their diet and exercising more. Knowing that this disease can be effectively managed or, even simply prevented by monitoring one’s blood glucose level, are habits that need to be cultivated in the society (Fuhrman, 2012). In order to deal with the effects of diabetes in society, we need to counterattack from the roots. Hence, the social marketing issue is, knowing one’s BGL, for all members of society.
The social marketing theory for application in this case is the exchange theory. The exchange theory states that, for effective marketing, one must give something to replace whatever it is that they need to take. In commerce, people exchange money for products. In this case, what is being taken is the good habit of knowing one’s BGL. On the other hand, what is being given out is the habit of not knowing or caring to find out one’s BGL (Fuhrman, 2012).
In planning for this social marketing program, there are a few vital considerations. One needs to identify and segment a target audience, come up with positioning strategies and develop the branding system and marketing mix. The timing is also critical, it is extremely advisable that a well arranged timeframe is established to enable the campaign assess the progress
The main driving force behind this program is the high number of diabetes diagnoses. This means that the ultimate motive is, not only, to prevent diabetes, but also to help those who already have the condition to manage it effectively, seeing given that the disease is hereditary in some people. Thus, the program targets all persons, whether diabetic or not, and whether type 1 or 2. The target market is then segmented to separate diabetics from non-diabetics, and type 1 diabetics from type 2 diabetics. This is because all these groupings have unique needs, and it would be ineffective to consider them as one group. They require different information that is relevant to their specific circumstances (Andreasen, 1995).
Diabetes is a medical problem, but, current trends of the condition have implied that almost everyone is at risk. Given that even young, active and otherwise healthy persons have also been diagnosed with diabetes, the disease seems unstoppable if we continue in this culture of ignorance. Thus, all members of the society have to obtain this information. Ideally, health centres and hospitals would be the places where we can source information regarding people’s health concerns. But one of the reasons as to why people do not know their BGL is lack of time, to take the test at home or visit a health practitioner in the case of a type 2 diabetic (Kansal, 2004).
Thus, the ideal positioning strategy would be in the mass media, community centres, parks, and other public places. Furthermore, the offices, car parks, open markets, and any other place where people frequently visit would be ideal positions to disseminate this critical information. The key objective is to educate every person, and encourage or even challenge them to adopt the new healthier habit of knowing their BGL (Kansal, 2004).
In order to effectively carry out a marketing campaign, there is a need to have a strong brand that is recognizable (Kapferer, 2008). This awareness creation can be effectively boosted by extensive branding. Thus the program will use branded t-shirts, caps, wristbands and banners.
Just like in commerce, effective social marketing requires a relevant and workable marketing mix. Given that this program targets three different market segments, there will be different aspects of the marketing mix for each group. Using the 4P framework, this program’s marketing mix is as follows;
The product in this case is behavioural change, and more specifically, knowing one’s BGL. This is the product that needs to be sold to consumers for their benefit and that of the society as a whole. It is a high quality product given its effects to the individual and the society, thus it should be easy to sell. This is applicable to all the market segments seeing as everyone needs to know their BGL (Fuhrman, 2012).
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