Social marketing is the application of commercial marketing technologies to the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of programs designed to influence the behaviour of target audiences in order to improve the welfare of individuals and society.
Modified definition: Andreasen (1995).
Social marketing strategies are concerned firstly with the needs, preferences and social and economic circumstances of the target market. This information is used to ensure the most attractive benefits of a product, service or idea are offered and to address any barriers to the acceptance of that offering (Maibach et al., 2002). Communicating with target market members about the relative advantages of what is offered is one element of social marketing, but also important are addressing issues of price, access, environmental support and the marketing of competing products. Effective social marketing, therefore, may include efforts to address the economic and regulatory environment. Success of a social marketing strategy is determined by its contribution to the well-being of the target market or society as a whole (Maibach et al., 2002).
Source: WHO Health Promotion Glossary: new terms. Smith BJ, Tang KC, Nutbeam D. Health Promot Int. 2006 Dec;21(4):340-5.