Social marketing of water and sanitation products: A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature - Evans, Pattanayak, Young, et. al. - 2014 - Article


Social marketing

Marketing is about an exchange of value: the product provides value for the customer, in exchange for financial benefit for the marketer. Social marketers promote causes with a social benefit, or behaviors that benefit the audience. They make use of the 4 Ps: place, price, product and promotion. When marketing behavior, price can be seen as time, effort or convenience. Product would be the benefits, social or functional, that the behavior provides. Recently, social marketing has been used to promote healthy drinking water and sanitation, together with preventive treatments for water-related illnesses like diarrhea. The authors of this article set out to study this field by reviewing peer-reviewed literature and identify:

  1. The presence or absence of social marketing activities in specific interventions
  2. The presence or absence of the 4 Ps in these interventions
  3. The outcome of the evaluation in these interventions

Product

Over one third of the studies used the Safe Water System (SWS), which promotes the treatment of water at the point of use (by means of a sodium hypochlorite solution), safe storage and behavior change. Marketing techniques can be recognized in the use of a brand name and logo. However, other interventions used unbranded products, like water vessels or latrines. In some cases, the entire campaign was branded: hygiene behaviors in one study were marketed as a ‘Clean Life Campaign’. All studies also had health gains that resulted from a hygiene-related behavior as a product.

Place

In social marketing, place refers to the distribution channels that are used to make tangible products available to consumers. It may also refer to the location where a customer engages in the desired behavior. Some interventions focused on the exchange of a product, others facilitated availability and easy access by using local resources. Local volunteers were trained to educate households about the benefits of hygienic behaviors. Another way was to use public spaces in the community to promote behavior, such as village loudspeakers or local mosques, or through health education in schools.

Price

Price can refer to providing monetary subsidies (which may not be very effective) or the time and effort expended by individuals to adopt the intervention. In the surveyed interventions, water treatment solutions were sold at low rates made possible by subsidies. Sales occurred both to the customers as well as to local wholesalers and retailers to stimulate sales. When the interventions were investments in sanitation infrastructure, households were often asked to pay for part of the construction, as well as provide labor.

Promotion

Perhaps the most visible aspect of social marketing is promotion. As mentioned before, a common technique in the interventions was to train volunteers to spread knowledge about hygiene. Another strategy was to organize neighborhood meetings to promote awareness. Health education in schools was also a common way to spread knowledge, as well as advertisements on radio and TV and in newspapers and other printed media.

Effectiveness of the Safe Water System and other interventions

Over many different interventions, the SWS led to a significant increase in sales of chlorine bottles, as well as safe storage containers for water. More people were using safe hand washing techniques at the end of the intervention. An effective way to promote behavior changes with the SWS was motivational interviewing. Other interventions that promote correct handwashing techniques and proper stool disposal through media campaigns, house-to-house visits and schools also showed an increase in handwashing with soap. Print media seems to have the best effect, especially when illustrations are used. Oral rehydration therapy is the most cost-effective way to lower childhood mortality due to diarrhea. Social marketing saves lives by promoting the use of oral rehydration packets.

BulletPoints

  • Social marketers promote causes with a social benefit, or behaviors that benefit the audience. They make use of the 4 Ps: place, price, product and promotion. When marketing behavior, price can be seen as time, effort or convenience. Product would be the benefits, social or functional, that the behavior provides.
  • Over many different interventions, the SWS led to a significant increase in sales of chlorine bottles, as well as safe storage containers for water. More people were using safe hand washing techniques at the end of the intervention. Other interventions that promote correct handwashing techniques and proper stool disposal through media campaigns, house-to-house visits and schools also showed an increase in handwashing with soap. Print media seems to have the best effect, especially when illustrations are used.
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