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close this bookCondom Social Marketing: Selected Case Studies (UNAIDS, 2001, 52 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentAcronyms
View the document1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. What is social marketing?
View the document3. Different approaches to social marketing
Open this folder and view contents4. Case studies
View the document5. Key Lessons
View the document6. Selected Bibliography (principal sources)

5. Key Lessons

This booklet is offered as a key material within the UNAIDS Best Practice Collection which seeks to disseminate, as widely as possible, working practices around the world that have been tried or adopted in response to the spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs. The aim of the Collection is not necessarily to promote the activities or practices per se as “best” solutions to the problems for which they were originally adopted, but, more importantly, to provide a source of lessons learned that may save others in the field considerable effort, resources and time.

Each of the social marketing country programmes described provides valuable lessons that may be applied in other countries and circumstances, whether in planning new projects or in working towards expanding or improving existing programmes. These lessons are included in the sections on each project. However, some general issues are relevant as key points to be considered.

1. Social marketing for HIV/AIDS and STDs is at present largely focused on condoms. This will not always be so.

UNAIDS advocates social marketing, and particularly the social marketing of condoms, as a key strategy in the fight against the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. The case studies described here have much to offer both new and other on-going condom promotion projects. However, although male and female condoms are currently the only manufactured products that provide protection against infection from HIV and many STDs, other products, such as microbicides and vaccines, are in development and will one day become available. They will be more quickly and easily accessed by those who can afford their commercial price. However, in developing countries, the vast majority of the population will find it difficult, frequently impossible, to avail themselves of the new products and increased protection. The lessons to be learned from the past experience and experiments in condom social marketing can help significantly in making new products and services more widely available and accessible as quickly as possible.

2. Marketing, and consequently social marketing, is a very flexible and adaptable technique.

The concepts and principles of marketing can be applied to almost any products and services and on virtually any scale, whether for commercial or social ends. Nor is there a single model of marketing that is necessarily any better than any other; the practical application of the technique’s guiding principles may take many forms, depending on circumstances and aims. The few examples of applied social marketing described in this booklet illustrate the range and flexibility of the discipline, and how it may be adapted to deal with widely differing situations, constraints and opportunities.

Social marketing projects and programmes can be large and nationwide or, as appropriate, small and targeted at specific locations or groups within the population. A programme may stand alone or be a component of a larger, more comprehensive project; similarly, a social marketing programme may contain within itself different tactics and strategic approaches, such as when “traditional” product distribution through commercial wholesalers to shops is complemented with community-based distribution to individuals. Nor, as has been seen, does a social marketing programme necessarily require the exclusive use of experienced marketing professionals. People drawn from the general public or from specific, targeted groups can be effectively involved in a project’s design and implementation.

3. Research is fundamental to effective social marketing and achieving behaviour change.

In designing and implementing a social marketing project, detailed knowledge of the target group’s situation and context is essential: assessing the availability of and degrees of accessibility to needed products and services, and discovering the group’s values, attitudes, habits, needs and wants in relation to the project’s goals, are necessary for the identification of opportunities and means for action. In other words, the planning process and subsequent reviews, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of performance and progress following implementation, must be guided by relevant, reliable, up-to-date information and data.

Social marketing therefore requires comprehensive “market” and “consumer” research, and several of the cases described above have illustrated its importance. The depth and scale of the research conducted will of course depend on the amount and quality of available resources, but even where resources are limited, whether for lack of funds or technical “know-how” or both, it is possible to collect and analyse reliable information.

Where technical resources for research are limited, obtaining and acting upon knowledge about targeted groups is often made easier, or even fully achieved, through the partnerships that are increasingly being forged between social marketing projects and local, often community-based, organizations. Many of these joint projects are set up in order to improve the reach of social marketing to specific groups or population segments but individuals can be trained also in collecting information from their peers, through individual interviews and focus group discussions, as well as in sales and distribution.

4. The measure of success of a social marketing programme is much more than the volume of product sales achieved.

The success of social marketing should be evaluated not only in terms of sales and distribution figures but also through their impact within the wider social and reproductive health context. Techniques and indicators that can document the impact of programmes above and beyond sales figures exist, such as measures of awareness, recognition and acceptance of risk, behaviour and social change, and programme reach, and others are being developed.

5. There is a need for increased and expanded implementation of social marketing in the fight against HIV and STDs.

Social marketing has been applied towards the improvement of sexual and reproductive health since the 1970s. Its contributions in this field have been significant, especially in expanding access to reproductive health services and products in developing countries. Within the area of HIV/AIDS and STDs, the social marketing of male and female condoms to low-income and high-risk groups is becoming increasingly widespread and has resulted in many countries in greatly improved access to condoms. For example, in 1991 social marketing programmes operated in 37 developing countries and sold about 575 million condoms; by the end of 1999, programmes existed in almost 60 developing countries and sold over 900 million male and female condoms.

Nevertheless, there is still room for expansion and further growth. Many more countries can adopt social marketing as a key strategy within their HIV and STD prevention programmes and many of those with existing programmes would benefit from assessing their needs for improvement. It is hoped that the experiences and lessons learned from the programmes described here may contribute to this.