Theories and Models in Social Marketing
Reference: Lefebvre, RC (2000).
In PN Bloom & GT Gundlach (Eds.),
Marketing and Society
, Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Theories and models for social marketing abound, with little formal consensus on which
types of models for what types of social problems in what kinds of situations are most
In defining what social marketing is, many authors include the notion of
exchange theory to link it to its marketing roots (e.g., Kotler & Roberto, 1989; Lefebvre
& Flora, 1988;
Other writers on the subject omit any mention of
exchange theory, either in their definition of social marketing or its key elements (e.g.,
Andreasen, 1995; Manoff, 1985).
Elliott (1991), in a review of the exchange concept’s
place in social marketing, concludes that “[it] is either absent or obtuse” (page 157).
Added to this confusion are other authors who refer to a “social marketing theory” (Gries,
Black & Coster, 1995; Tomes, 1994).
While authors such as Lefebvre & Rochlin (1997) and Novelli (1990) recognize the value
of the exchange concept in describing social marketing, both hold open the idea that
many other theoretical models may be applied in the actual development of social
“Marketing is theory based.
It is predicated on theories of
consumer behavior, which in turn draw upon the social and behavioral sciences”
(Novelli, 1990, p.343).
In fact, this is what happens in the practice of social marketing.
However, Walsh, Rudd, Moeykens & Maloney (1993) have noted that “professional
social marketers tend to be broadly eclectic and intuitive tinkerers in their use of available
theory (p. 115).”
So while a review of theoretical models used in social marketing seems