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Social marketing interventions aiming to increase physical activity among adults: A systematic review

Krzysztof Kubacki (Social Marketing @ Griffith, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Rimante Ronto (School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Ville Lahtinen (Social Marketing @ Griffith, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Bo Pang (Social Marketing @ Griffith, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Sharyn Rundle-Thiele (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 3 January 2017




A significant proportion of the world’s adult population is insufficiently active. One approach used to overcome barriers and facilitate participation in physical activity is social marketing. The purpose of this paper are twofold: first, this review seeks to provide a contemporary review of social marketing’s effectiveness in changing physical activity for the better; and second, it seeks to ascertain the extent that Andreasen’s (2002) six social marketing benchmark criteria have been applied in social marketing interventions targeting physical activity.


In total, 94 articles covering 26 social marketing interventions were identified following systematic literature review procedures.


None of the interventions gave evidence that they addressed all six social marketing benchmark criteria, and only four interventions addressed five criteria. The results indicate that three of the benchmark criteria, namely, behavioural objectives, formative research, and marketing mix are well utilised in social marketing interventions. Inclusion of market segmentation, exchange and competition offers potential to extend further on social marketing’s effectiveness in increasing physical activity.


The results of the current study indicate that increasing the number of benchmark criteria used in an intervention to at least four increases the chances of achieving positive behavioural outcomes.



The evidence synthesis on which this paper was based was funded by Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). The funders played no role in study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, or in the decision to submit the paper for publication. They accept no responsibility for contents.


Kubacki, K., Ronto, R., Lahtinen, V., Pang, B. and Rundle-Thiele, S. (2017), "Social marketing interventions aiming to increase physical activity among adults: A systematic review", Health Education, Vol. 117 No. 1, pp. 69-89.



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