The benchmark criteria are essentially those elements to look for in an intervention to determine whether it is consistent with social marketing. They build on a two year independent review in 2006 which examined social marketing methods and approaches and also build on Alan Andreasen’s previous six point benchmark from 2001.

The benchmarks are designed to:

  • increase understanding of core social marketing concepts and principles
  • increase consistency of approach and thereby their potential impact and effectiveness
  • maintain maximum flexibility and creativity, to craft and develop interventions to different needs
  • assist more systematic capture and sharing of transferable learning between interventions
  • assist effective review and evaluation of different types of intervention

It is important that the benchmarks are not confused with a process of how to do social marketing.

They have been framed in such a way as to ensure that they do not restrict the ability of practitioners to develop creative, imaginative and flexible solutions to the different types of behavioural challenges they face. However the criteria provide a robust framework to assist those planning and developing interventions to ensure they are consistent with best evidence-based principle and practice in the social marketing field.

1. Customer orientation

Helps develop a robust understanding of the audience, based on good market and consumer research, combining data from different sources.

What to look for:

  • A broad and robust understanding of the customer is developed, which focuses on understanding their lives in the round, avoiding potential to only focus on a single aspect or features
  • Formative consumer / market research used to identify audience characteristics and needs, incorporating key stakeholder understanding
  • Range of different research analysis, combining data (using synthesis and fusion approaches) and where possible drawing from public and commercial sector
  • sources, to inform understanding of people’s everyday lives

2. Behaviour

Has a clear focus on behaviour, based on a strong behavioural analysis, with specific behaviour goals.

What to look for:

  • A broad and robust behavioural analysis undertaken to gather a rounded picture of current behavioural patterns and trends, including for both the ‘problem’ behaviour and the ‘desired’ behaviour
  • Intervention clearly focused on specific behaviours i.e. not just focused on information, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs
  • Specific actionable and measurable behavioural goals and key indicators have been established in relation to a specific ‘social good’

Intervention seeks to consider and address four key behavioural domains:

  1. formation and establishment of behaviour
  2. maintenance and reinforcement of behaviour
  3. behaviour change
  4. behavioural controls (based on ethical principles)

3. Theory

Is behavioural theory-based and informed, drawing from an integrated theory framework?

What to look for:

  • Theory is used transparently to inform and guide development, and theoretical assumptions tested as part of the process
  • An open integrated theory framework is used that avoids tendency to simply apply the same preferred theory to every given situation

Takes into account behavioural theory across four primary domains:

  1. bio-physical
  2. psychological
  3. social
  4. environmental / ecological

4. Insight

Based on developing a deeper ‘insight’ approach – focusing on what ‘moves and motivates’.

What to look for:

  • Focus is clearly on gaining a deep understanding and insight into what moves and motivates the customer
  • Drills down from a wider understanding of the customer to focus on identifying key factors and issues relevant to positively influencing particular behaviour
  • Approach based on identifying and developing ‘actionable insights’ using considered judgement, rather than just generating data and intelligence

5. Exchange

Incorporates an ‘exchange’ analysis - understanding what the person has to give in order to get the benefits proposed.

What to look for:

  • Clear analysis of the full cost to the consumer in achieving the proposed benefit (financial, physical, social, time spent, etc.)
  • Analysis of the perceived / actual costs versus perceived / actual benefits
  • Incentives, recognition, reward, and disincentives are considered and tailored according to specific audiences, based on what they value

6. Competition

Incorporates a ‘competition’ analysis to understand what competes for the time and attention of the audience.

What to look for:

  • Both internal (psychological factors, pleasure, desire, risk taking, addiction etc) and external (wider influences / influencers competing for audience’s attention and time, promoting or reinforcing alternative or counter behaviours) competition are considered and addressed
  • Strategies aim to minimise potential impact of competition by considering positive and problematic external influences & influencers
  • Factors competing for the time and attention of a given audience considered

7. Segmentation

Uses a developed segmentation approach (not just targeting) avoiding blanket approaches.

What to look for:

  • Traditional demographic or epidemiological targeting used, but not relied on exclusively
  • Deeper segmented approaches that focus on what ‘moves and motivates’ the relevant audience, drawing on greater use of psycho-graphic data
  • Interventions directly tailored to specific audience segments rather than reliance on ‘blanket’ approaches
  • Future lifestyle trends considered and addressed

8. Methods mix

Identifies an appropriate mix of methods being utilised.

What to look for:

  • Range of methods used to establish an appropriate mix of methods
  • Avoids reliance on single methods or approaches used in isolation
  • Methods and approaches developed, taking full account of any other interventions in order to achieve synergy and enhance the overall impact

Primary intervention domains considered:

  1. informing / encouraging
  2. educating / empowering
  3. servicing / supporting
  4. designing / adjusting environment
  5. controlling / regulating