More about BCC and Social Marketing

Behaviour change communication (BCC) generally refers to a collection of focused activities with the goal of changing the behaviour of targeted populations thereby benefiting society as a whole. For example, successfully changing the sexual behaviours of most at risk populations can have the benefit of lowering the risk of HIV for the larger population.

Research has shown that solely providing people with information and encouraging them to act differently are usually not sufficient to bring about meaningful, large scale change.  The reason for this is that a person’s behaviour is not just determined by one’s rational choice about how to act or not to act. Rather, behaviours are more complex and are often heavily influenced by one’s opportunity, ability and motivation to act. 

Therefore, BCC programmes tend to emphasize activities that create a supportive environment for the targeted behaviour change. This facet of BCC brings additional communication strategies and audiences such as peers, teachers, policy makers, and community and religious leaders into the process.

When an intervention involves the use of a particular product or service, then this activity is often referred to as social marketing.  Social marketing uses commercial product marketing principles to promote a socially beneficial change in behaviour.

The key characteristic that often distinguishes social marketing from commercial marketing is that the benefits of the programme accrue to the individual or society rather than to the marketer’s organisation. In immature markets, the immediate goal for social marketing is to make sure the product or service is available, attractive and affordable. 

In mature markets, the goal might be to create enough demand for a donor-subsidized product that it potentially becomes a profitable and sustainable venture for the private sector.  In this way, social marketing could be thought of as a bridge between the public and private sector.

Whether the project employs BCC or social marketing activities the overall aim is the same: to drive socially beneficial behaviours.