|Condom Social Marketing: Selected Case Studies (UNAIDS, 2001, 52 p.)|
Social marketing programmes generally use the existing commercial infrastructures in countries to develop and distribute specifically branded products such as condoms. This traditional approach, also known as the own brand model, is the most common amongst social marketing programmes in developing countries and is closely associated with Population Services International (PSI) and DKT International, organizations that pioneered international social marketing in the 1970s and 1980s. It applies standard commercial marketing and sales techniques for promotion and distribution through wholesale and retail sales points to the mass market. The social marketing organization may receive unbranded products from international or national donors, or may directly procure quality products from manufacturers, and develops its own brands and packaging for distribution. This entails the establishment of a professional in-country sales force and management structure, frequently involving a local partner organization.
However, the ability to operate as effectively as possible in a wide variety of contexts is a key element in any social marketing programme. In most developing countries low-income populations form the great majority and within it there is a frequent need to target specific, often difficult to access, population groups with particular needs. In addition to working through traditional sales networks involving wholesalers and existing retail outlets for consumer goods, social marketing programmes must frequently seek to develop non-traditional outlets and informal distribution systems to meet the needs of specific groups, and even communities, within the population.
The potential use of alternative distribution systems is an essential aspect of social marketing. Today, in many developing countries, socially marketed condoms are to be found in both traditional retail outlets such as pharmacies and drugstores and non-traditional points such as bars, coffee shops, brothels, beauty parlours, workplaces, gas stations, and bus and truck terminals.
Therefore, other ways of social marketing of products have been developed and are also common. These approaches are not mutually exclusive although one or more may be applied exclusively by a programme or project, or also as parts of a project for strengthening and improvement of an existing traditional approach.
These models, or possible approaches to social marketing, include:
Community-based systems of product promotion and distribution (community-based distribution /CBD) where non-professional sales agents are recruited from among particular groups within the general population. The individuals receive basic training in IEC and sales and are usually rewarded financially from small margins on their sales. This approach is increasingly chosen as a means of reaching geographical areas and socio-cultural groups that are difficult to access. Many programmes incorporate the method to complement more traditional, retail outlet sales; some programmes, usually run by local NGOs, are based entirely on the system.
An innovative and promising variant of the CBD approach has recently been developed and piloted over two years in Chennai, India, by International Family Health (IFH) and its local partner NGO, the Indian Institute of Community Health (IICH). In this model (community-based social marketing /CBSM) sales agents are recruited from among the general public as well as from within specific groups. In addition to benefiting from basic training in reproductive health and from commissions on their sales, the agents also benefit financially from recruiting others to act as educational and sales agents. CBSM is derived from commercial network and multi-level marketing techniques successfully applied in developed countries, and has shown potential in rapidly attaining community penetration and involvement in reproductive health issues and HIV prevention.
The manufacturers model, where support is provided for the promotion and distribution of brands developed and owned by a manufacturer (foreign or local) or local manufacturers agent, frequently an importer of the product. The support usually takes the form of grants directly to the manufacturers and/or their distribution agents so as to reduce their commercial marketing costs and therefore allow greater investment in key activities, such as promotion and advertising. A retail price significantly below the usual market price is the expected end result. In contrast to the traditional /own brand model the manufacturers model is the least common. The approach has been almost exclusively associated with The Futures Group International (TFGI) and its international, USAID-supported SOMARC project.
The targeted service delivery approach involves planning appropriate social marketing activities, through which the project strives to reach and distribute products to specific target groups, usually high-risk or other priority segments of the general public. These groups are often inadequately served by other service delivery mechanisms, including standard social marketing activities. Their identification usually results from market segmentation studies carried out once the basic distribution structure to the mass market is established, so targeted service delivery is often a component of programmes mainly structured around the traditional or wider commercial approach. However, many local organizations, usually NGOs, adopt this approach either from necessity (restricted resources) or from particular interest.
There are many ways of applying social marketing concepts, approaches and techniques at the national, local or community levels. Flexibility in planning and implementation are key to successfully meeting the needs for information and products such as condoms in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Planning and implementing social marketing programmes is by no means restricted to large, well-funded international organizations. Local initiatives in social marketing by organizations within the national private sector, including NGOs, exist in many countries. These can range widely in size and purpose from small, localized projects restricted, for instance, to training and employing ex-commercial sex workers in a particular location as sales and IEC agents only for condoms, to comprehensive, full-scale reproductive health programmes active at the national level.
Of particular interest to local initiatives is the fact that well-managed and adequately supported social marketing projects are among the most cost-effective of health interventions. The projects can recover a large proportion of costs and revenues from sales which can be invested in other activities, such as capacity-building or strengthening the programme itself if the organization works exclusively in social marketing (the Social Marketing Company of Bangladesh, for example). If the organization has other activities, as does PROFAMILIA in Colombia, then these revenues can also be used to subsidize these activities within a policy of cross-subsidization.
The following concrete examples of social marketing applied to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and STDs in different countries and contexts are offered to illustrate the various approaches described above. The cases described below are examples of the uses of these approaches to social marketing that have been adopted in some countries by different organizations; all the cases focus on ways of condom distribution and promotion that were designed and implemented in response to different situations.