Two success stories in Corporate Social Marketing
The private sector has come under increasing pressure to address social problems in emerging markets that have traditionally been tackled by governments and NGOs.
Corporations have responded, in part, by creating programs for Corporate Social Responsibility for which marketing has become an important tool.
Multinational companies have worked on many projects that benefit both the environment and the community, while allowing them to have an important return in terms of profits.
In this win-win that implies social responsibility, corporations are mounting campaigns for changes in social behavior to improve health and quality of life, which is called “social marketing”.
Although multinational corporations have proven to be powerful agents of social change, through the creation of new products and services, few have confronted the magnitude and complexity of social problems such as the universal literacy challenge or childhood obesity.
The analysis of these experiences reveals that the marketing tools applied by companies to their social initiatives can contribute to overcoming social problems and lay the foundations for important sectors of the community to achieve a better quality of life.
The definition of social marketing, according to Andreasen, is “the use of marketing principles to influence the voluntary human behavior of target audiences in order to improve health or benefit society”, something very different from traditional marketing or “ private ”in the sense that its central purpose is not to generate direct benefits for the company by increasing sales, but rather this is achieved by improving social or environmental conditions through behavior changes.
Specifically, social marketing campaigns have addressed social issues such as not littering, driving within the permitted speed limits, responsibly consuming alcoholic beverages, having healthy diets, and preventing HIV.
Successful social marketing campaigns use a variety of tools to influence behavior change, including education, marketing, and policy.
Although social marketing has a long history, however, social marketing campaigns are usually sponsored by governments or non-profit organizations, and rarely by corporations.
To put this new trend in CSR into context, such as the use of marketing tools by corporations, what marketing implies to address social problems and achieve a change in individual behavior in members of a population, we offer the example of two companies that took on the challenge successfully.
Coca-Cola case and literacy
At Coca-Cola, a recent decrease in the budget for the Community Relations department led managers to examine their social initiatives and choose to focus resources on a single type of program. Selected Community Relations programs should have far-reaching impact and benefits.
Possible areas of opportunity for targeting community relations initiatives included sports, health, the environment, and education.
A recent survey of the Costa Rican communities in which Coca-Cola operated reported that education continued to be a local need and priority; therefore, programs in this area were considered to be consistent with public opinion and expectations.
Through qualitative studies, the Coca-Cola Community Participation Department found the lack of interest in reading on the part of students and parents in the regions with the greatest economic disadvantage and social risk.
In this context, Coca-Cola developed the “Reading is Magic” campaign to reposition libraries as places of entertainment and learning and to support reading within schools and students' homes.
There was a donation of books of more than 40 thousand copies, improvement in the infrastructure of libraries that consisted of furnishing with new desks, chairs and
study rooms for students, as well as painting previously gloomy walls.
Finally, Coca-Cola involved the Ministry of Public Education to institute a policy that would develop and reinforce reading as a habit, in order to implement an initiative to allocate ten minutes of each Spanish class to the reading of a book chosen by the students. own students.
Eighty schools have participated, benefiting 65.000 Costa Rican schoolchildren and another 135.000 people including teachers, librarians, parents and community members.
The case of obesity and social marketing
The obesity problem is a public health issue that is affecting many Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Chile, which are seeing their populations worsen their diet —increasing the consumption of products high in fat, sodium and sugar— and at the same time leading a sedentary lifestyle. In Chile this phenomenon has been dramatic, since it is one of the countries with the worst rates of obesity and overweight in Latin America.
Tresmontes Lucchetti, in Chile, a company in the food industry, characterized by its commitment to corporate social responsibility initiatives, decided to focus on the health issue as part of its community relations programs.
He did it by treating the problem of childhood obesity. The intention was to determine the evolution in the prevalence of obesity in the same children over a period of three years. They analyzed more than a thousand students from various schools; a nutritionist, physical education teachers and interviewers were included.
The results were very satisfactory, since it was possible to reduce the prevalence of obesity by 50% in children (from 21,6% to 12,2% in men and from 19,4% to 8,7% in women) and overweight was reduced by 25%.
In view of the success achieved, Tresmontes Lucchetti has continued to replicate the childhood obesity prevention and treatment program in other communes of the country and the example of this company has led to the creation of the NutriRSE project, which consists of an initiative led by Acción RSE , a business organization that promotes good practices in matters of corporate social responsibility and that understands CSR as a management model that can also collaborate in solving social and environmental problems in the country.
The success of the project carried out by Tresmontes Lucchetti allows us to be optimistic that the partnership between the public sector, private companies and the community will be able to overcome the scourge of childhood obesity using the available tools of social marketing.
How these two examples there are many more that companies can adopt as part of their social projection, a fundamental element in the market to find success in business.
Excerpt from the article "Corporate Social Marketing", published in the magazine INCAE Business Review.