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A better life is possible: the ultimate purpose of social marketing

Hamilton Coimbra Carvalho (Department of Marketing, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.)
Jose Afonso Mazzon (Department of Marketing, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.)

Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 13 April 2015




The purpose of this paper is to discuss a broader societal trend toward the full realization of human potential and the points of convergence with social marketing. The ultimate goal of social marketing is to increase social good. The paper defines social good in a new light and makes the connection to well-being clearer, proposing an agenda for social marketers and highlighting the opportunities for a better positioning of social marketing in the marketplace of ideas.


This conceptual paper presents an overview of concepts and evidence on the drivers of human well-being. It also discusses some important questions at a broader societal level, such as the role of money and income on happiness and well-being. It presents the connections between this body of knowledge and social marketing, including a literature review from both fields.


Eliminating ill-being no longer seems satisfactory from a societal point of view in the current Zeitgeist. Societies have been searching for ways to alleviate illnesses and to increase the well-being of its citizens. Social marketing, as a powerful social technology for behavior change, must be part of this broader movement, achieving a better positioning in the marketplace of ideas. The paper proposes a six-point agenda to reach these goals.

Research limitations/implications

The main theoretical implication is a call for social marketers to see the ultimate goal of the discipline (social good) under a new lens. This requires an update in the conceptual frameworks that orient the discipline. Another implication is the need for better upstream conceptual models in social marketing.

Practical implications

The paper suggest some practical implications, such as the opportunity to expand social marketing to countries that do not use it, the use of well-being drivers as inputs, means and outcomes in social marketing programs, and the role of the discipline in both alleviating poverty and in demarketing efforts.


The paper contributes by taking an outside perspective and a transdisciplinary approach. The fulfillment of human potential demands the attention to different drivers of human behavior and the search for new social solutions. It also requires a clear understanding of the role of factors like money and social connectedness. This paper approaches these questions with answers grounded on the existing evidence while providing some points for the development of social marketing theory and practice.



Carvalho, H.C. and Mazzon, J.A. (2015), "A better life is possible: the ultimate purpose of social marketing", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 169-186.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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