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Social Marketing, Social Change

Special issue call for papers from European Journal of Marketing

Guest Editors: Professor Sally Dibb and Dr Marylyn Carrigan, The Open University Business School, UK

Social marketing in the 21st Century has grown in status as an innovative approach to social change (Andreasen 2003). From those early suggestions that marketing might be harnessed to promote more than goods and services (Wiebe 1951-52), Kotler and Levy (1969) went on to argue for a broader remit for marketing, one that superseded toothpaste and soap, challenging detractors (Luck 1969; Bartels 1974) who believed that this would divert marketing attention away from critical issues. The academic ‘birth’ of social marketing in 1971 (Kotler and Zaltman 1971) has now led to almost 40 years of research and discussion within the field. Social marketing during that time has found "its true nature" namely, changing behaviour (Andreasen 2003, p296), but there is still further to go.

Lazer and Kelly’s (1973) define social marketing as "concerned with the application of marketing knowledge, concepts, and techniques to enhance social as well as economic ends. It is also concerned with the analysis of the social consequences of marketing policies, decisions and activities." The special issue’s timing is especially relevant in the current global economic and social market turbulence. Marketers seek to influence consumer behaviour, yet much ill health and social problems are caused by human behaviour (Hastings and Saren 2003). Social marketing puts these two phenomena together, but rather than diverting marketing’s attention away from critical issues, social marketers use marketing insights to address social behaviours. Social marketing bridges the social and commercial worlds, can bring mutual understanding and can "broker a way forward", by "exploiting its twin understanding of the good and the bad that marketing can bring to society" (Hastings and Saren 2003, p315).

While it is increasingly recognised that social marketing can be an effective way to impact upon people’s behaviour, providing a fuller critique and understanding of marketing processes and outcomes, the potential for doing so has been far from fully realised. This special issue of the European Journal of Marketing is an opportunity to present new insights, research and debate in the field of social marketing and to examine the latest leading-edge theoretical, empirical and methodological progress in social marketing across consumer and organisational markets.

Given the current global economic and social challenges faced by business and society, this special issue will be a timely opportunity to evaluate the empirical development that has taken place in the field of social marketing, as well as give some thought to its future direction. In particular, theoretical, empirical and methodological papers are invited in the following areas: 

  • Critical reviews of the research and history of social marketing
  • Theoretical and conceptual contributions of social marketing
  • Social marketing models and frameworks
  • Social marketing and social change
  • Social marketing, relationships, networks and community
  • Social marketing’s application to sustainability and responsible consumption  
  • Anti-consumption and consumer resistance
  • Segmentation and social marketing
  • Consumer behaviour, undesired self and image congruency
  • Ethics and social marketing
  • Social marketing as de-marketing  
  • Branding and social marketing
  • Social communication, social media and the internet
  • Aspects of social marketing and perceptions of free choice, coercive exchange and power
  • Cross cultural challenges in social marketing
  • Public policy and the interface with social marketing
  • Social issues and public health e.g. smoking cessation; responsible drinking; health and nutrition
  • Demographics, market research and social marketing
  • Social marketing in prevention and preventive programming

Papers in other areas will also be considered by the editors. All manuscripts submitted must strictly follow the author guidelines for the European Journal of Marketing. These are available on the journal homepage at

The closing date for submissions is September 30th 2011 for publication in spring 2013.

Submissions Process

Submissions to European Journal of Marketing are made using ScholarOne Manuscript Central, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available at Full information and guidance on using ScholarOne Manuscript Central is available at the Emerald ScholarOne Manuscript Central Support Centre:

Please direct queries to the guest editors: c/o Prof. Sally Dibb, ISM-Open,

OUBS, The Open University, Waltham Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Email [email protected]



Andreasen, A.R. (2003). The life trajectory of social marketing: some implications. Marketing Theory, 3(3): 293-303.

Bartels, R. (1974). The identity crisis in marketing. Journal of Marketing, 38, 76.

Hastings, G., Saren, M. (2003). The critical contribution of social marketing: theory and application. Marketing Theory, 3(3): 305–322.

Kotler, P.,  Levy, (1969). Broadening the Concept of Marketing. Journal of Marketing, 33(1): 10-15.

Kotler, P., Zaltman, G. (1971). Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change. Journal of Marketing, 35(3): 3-12

Lazer, W., Kelley, E.J. (1973). Social Marketing: Perspectives and Viewpoints. Homewood: Richard D. Irwin

Luck, D.J. (1969). Broadening the Concept of Marketing - Too Far. Journal of Marketing, 33(3): 53-55.

Wiebe, G.D. (1951–52) ‘Merchandising Commodities and Citizenship on Television’, Public Opinion Quarterly 15: 679–91.