In Toronto in late April, more than 500 marketers gathered to present research and discuss their trade. And though individuals representing various disciplines came from more than 40 countries, only one product was pitched: behavior change.
The event was the World Social Marketing Conference, and it brought together a community of individuals who use conventional marketing principles to improve lives. The presentations displayed solutions as diverse as the problems that social marketers face in their work. Whether encouraging individuals receiving food subsidies in Oklahoma to consume low-fat milk, generating a brand that promotes tobacco cessation for teens who frequent alternative rock concerts in Virginia, or modifying spoons to decrease sugar consumption in Sri Lanka, presenters at the conference showed that the marketing techniques that so successfully encourage unhealthy behaviors can also be used to develop positive ones.
One other important outlet for social marketing research was also present in Toronto. Social Marketing Quarterly (SMQ), a peer-reviewed journal managed in association with FHI 360, has been a voice for the social marketing community since 1994. Founded by Carol Bryant and James Lindenberger at the University of South Florida, SMQ has been a bridge between academics and practitioners and is the longest-running publication focused exclusively on social marketing.
SMQ delivers theoretical research and case studies as well as “Notes from the Field” from prominent social marketers such as Lynne Doner Lotenberg, Phil Kotler and Bill Smith. It serves as a water cooler to the community, ensuring that the conversations started in places like Toronto continue to occur outside of convention centers.
For more information on the Social Marketing Quarterly, visit smq.sagepub.com.