NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Social Marketing
Identify Barriers | Strategies | Pilot Project | Evaluate Strategy
So, you want people to recycle? You think giving them a sticker and sending them on their way is going to do the trick? Think again. there's more to it than that. Social marketing is a behavior change-focused approach to bring your cause to the masses, and get them to invest in the idea and act on it.

social marketing
"Social marketing is the adaptation of commercial marketing technologies to programs designed to influence the voluntary behavior of target audiences to improve their personal welfare and that of the society of which they are a part."

Source: Andreasen, Alan R. Social Marketing: It's Definition Domain. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 13 (1994): 110
social marketing
So read up - your sticker comes in handy later. Social marketing differs from environmental education. Environmental education teaches people about the natural world and aims to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to make informed decisions about the environment.

Social marketing, however, is the application of commercial marketing concepts and techniques to target populations to achieve the goal of positive social change. In order to change social behavior it is necessary to overcome barriers and increase the perception of benefits. While regulations, education and advertising can be effective in creating public awareness and changing attitudes, behavior change does not always occur as a result of these tactics. It is necessary to do more in an effort to change behavior. Some examples of other social marketing campaigns, outside of the environmental field, have included smoking cessation and wearing safety belts.

As outlined in Fostering Sustainable Behavior, Social Marketing involves four steps:

  1. Identify barriers and benefits to recycling
  2. Use various social marketing strategies to increase recycling
  3. Conduct a pilot project
  4. Evaluate the strategy that was chosen



Pollution Prevention
North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
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