Journal of Social Marketing

ISSN: 2042-6763

Article publication date: 11 October 2011



(2011), "Editorial", Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 1 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/jsocm.2011.51101caa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Social Marketing, Volume 1, Issue 3

Welcome to our third issue of the Journal of Social Marketing. I would like to thank you for supporting the Journal of Social Marketing in its first volume. We hope to continue to build on the success of Volume 1 and we now look forward to working on Volume 2. A key innovation in Volume 2 will be the introduction of executive summaries for each paper published in the Journal of Social Marketing. The use of executive summaries is expected to further extend our reach by making academic research more accessible to a wider audience.

Making an impact – Journal of Social Marketing, Volume 1

I wish to start by speaking of the Journal of Social Marketing’s initial success. We are proud to be working with a truly International Editorial Advisory Board with representatives from North America, the UK, continental Europe and Australia. We are continuing to expand our global representation and we will be making additional editorial board appointments in 2012. We are fortunate to have secured a global readership with more than 417 Universities and five organisations (libraries, public relation agencies and strategic consultants) currently subscribing to the Journal of Social Marketing. Articles in the Journal of Social Marketing have been down loaded more than 10,000 times in the first five months. I am pleased to say the most downloaded article in April 2011 was Craig Lefebvre’s An Integrative Model for Social Marketing which appeared in Volume 1, Issue 1 with a total of 1,264 downloads in the first four months. We look forward to seeing the download’s translate into citations in the near future. I urge you to continue to support the Journal of Social Marketing. You can do this in a number of ways including adopting the journal, citing articles published in the Journal of Social Marketing, submitting papers to the Journal of Social Marketing and finally downloading and reading articles in the Journal of Social Marketing. Support is needed to further build the profile of the Journal of Social Marketing.

Our global reach is highlighted once again in this issue where we present five papers from 15 authors in five different countries, including Belgium, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and the USA.

Issue 3, Volume 1 of the Journal of Social Marketing has a distinct communication tone with both quantitative and qualitative studies in varied health settings. We start with Patrick De Pelsmacker, Verolien Cauberghe and Nathalie Dens who contribute to ongoing debate about the use of fear appeals in social marketing campaigns presenting evidence that suggests that different messages for health threats, whether the threat is new or familiar, are warranted. Our next paper by Franco Manuel Sancho, Maria Jose Miguel and Joaquin AldÃs uses consumer socialization theory as a framework to understand youth intentions to drink alcohol. Their findings demonstrate that consumption intention among adolescents and young adults is affected by parents, peers and advertising. However, each factor has a differential effect. The authors recommend that advertising regulations for alcohol are warranted.

As we are all well aware social media requires continued research attention to ensure that social marketers understand how they can best utilize social media. Richard D. Waters, Rachel R. Canfield, Jenny M. Foster and Eva E. Hardy examine university health center presence on Facebook. Dialogic theory is used as a framework to content analyse web pages. The authors conclude that sites are largely failing to apply dialogic principles and consequently they are not gaining followers. Hence, university health centres are failing to educate students about health issues that they have pledged to address on their campuses. Dialogic theory warrants ongoing attention in social marketing. One-way communication is our past and dialogic loops and customer driven content are our future. Our next paper, written by Jacinta Hawkins, Sandy Bulmer and Lynne Eagle contends that IMC must be used in social marketing, as it is in commercial marketing, by illustrating that IMC principles are effective in social marketing contexts within an education setting. We end with Michael Mackert and Brad Love whose argument follows on from Hawkins et al. Mackert suggest that social marketers would be well served to observe and follow practices adopted by commercial pharmaceutical marketers to ensure messages are communicated in a more appealing way.

Making an impact – the need to move beyond purchase intentions

I recently attended the Marketing and Public Policy Conference which was held in Washington, DC. While there was a variety of presentations on a range of topics, not surprisingly nutrition and obesity was quite dominant at this meeting as researchers grapple with understanding how current trends can be reversed.

One observation that I have, centers on the continued reliance on intentions or self-reported behavioural measures as a proxy for behavior that currently exists in academic research. There are many examples where stated intentions do not match behaviours. One example is offered by Zinkhan and Carlson (1995) who provide an example of survey respondents’ eagerness to describe themselves’ as recyclers which were incongruent with recycling rates at the time. As noted by Barkworth et al. (2002) while intentions are correlated with behaviour, they are not the same as behaviour.

A further issue arises with the use of self-reported behavior. Self-reported behavior does not correlate perfectly with actual behavior. People do not, or cannot, accurately report their own behaviours. An example of the mismatch between self-reported behaviour and actual behaviour exists in my own work (Rundle-Thiele et al., 2009). This study uncovered a difference in self-reported and observed behaviour provides an example in an alcohol context where survey respondents over reported alcohol free days (no alcoholic beverages consumed in the previous 24 hours) and under reported the actual amount of alcohol consumed in the previous 24-hour period.

Purchase intentions have long been criticized for their ability to accurately predict customer behavior (examples include Holdershaw et al., 2011 in a blood donation context and; Lockie et al., 2004 in an organic food context). Researchers also need to be aware of the inherent limitations of self-reported behavior measures. As noted by Holdershaw et al. (2011) researchers may now need to turn to other methods to predict behaviour. At a minimum researchers need to demonstrate they are aware of the mismatch between intentions and behaviour if their research is constrained to intentions.

I challenge social marketing researchers to take a long-term view to their research and assess behavioural change as this is the true outcome that we are seeking. Any attempts to use intentions and self-reported behaviour as proxies are substantially flawed and as such must be treated with caution by social marketing researchers seeking to build on previous work.


Barkworth, L., Hibbert, S., Horne, S. and Tagg, S. (2002), “Giving at risk? Examining perceived risk and blood donation behaviour”, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 18 No. 9, pp. 905–22

Holdershaw, J.L., Gendall, P.J. and Wright, M.J. (2011), “Predicting blood donation behaviour: further application of the theory of planned behaviour”, Journal of Social Marketing, Vol. 1 No. 2, p. 1

Lockie, S., Lyons, K., Lawrence, G. and Grice, J. (2004), “Choosing organics: a path analysis of factors underlying the selection of organic food among Australian consumers”, Appetite, Vol. 43 No. 2, pp. 135–46

Rundle-Thiele, S. (2009), “Bridging the gap between claimed and actual behaviour: the role of observational research”, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 295–306

Zinkhan, G.M. and Carlson, L. (1995), “Green advertising and the reluctant consumer”, Journal of Advertising, Vol. 24 No. 2, p. 1

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