The social marketing theory-based (SMT) approach for designing interventions

Shamini Manikam, Rebekah Russell-Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Despite the importance of theory as a driving framework, many social marketers either fail to explicitly use theory as the basis of designing social marketing interventions or default to familiar theories which may not accurately reflect the nature of the behavioural issue. The purpose of this paper is therefore to propose and demonstrate the social marketing theory (SMT)-based approach for designing social marketing interventions, campaigns or tools. Design/methodology/approach – This conceptual paper proposes a four-step process and illustrates this process by applying the SMT-based approach to the digital component of a social marketing intervention for preventing domestic violence. Findings – For effective social marketing interventions, the underpinning theory must reflect consumer insights and key behavioural drivers and be used explicitly in the design process. Practical implications – Social marketing practitioners do not always understand how to use theory in the design of interventions, campaigns or tools, and scholars do not always understand how to translate theories into practice. This paper outlines a process and illustrates how theory can be selected and applied. Originality/value – This paper proposes a process for theory selection and use in a social marketing context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-40
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Marketing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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