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Social marketing in sport

This is an excerpt from Canadian Sport Marketing 3rd Edition With HKPropel Access by Norm O'Reilly,Benoit Seguin,Gashaw Abeza & Michael L. Naraine.

Many do not realize it, but marketing can also be about behaviour change, and behaviour change is an impor­tant part of the sport business. Indeed, the impact of sport on society is tremendous: It contributes to economic vitality; it fosters activity and exercise in the population; and it boosts municipal, regional, and national morale. Just like any other industry, however, sport is not without flaw. Behaviour change, ­whether trivial or major, is sometimes a necessary objective of key stakeholders, including athletes, potential athletes, coaches, administrators, media, funding agencies, and regulatory boards. This is where marketing is most useful. Marketing owns the business of behaviour influence. Thus, in ­these situations where the “purchase” of new behaviours is required, we can use social marketing. It is impor­tant to note that social marketing is not social media marketing; it predates social media and is simply about using marketing practices and princi­ples to use marketing when the product is a given behaviour. Examples of behavioural change where social marketing has been used effectively are practising safe sex, avoiding drinking and driving, quitting smoking, and curbing alcoholism.

Chapters 3 and 4 discussed sport marketing research and the sport consumer. As with any other subset of marketing, social marketing is highly consumer focused, and tapping into the needs and wants of each consumer is paramount when formulating any marketing strategy. In ­doing this, the com­pany and its ability to meet ­those needs and wants must also be assessed.

Analyzing the com­pany in a social marketing context is similar to that activity in commercial contexts. The main difference is that the findings are often less pleasant. Organ­izations engaging in social marketing are often in the nonprofit sector and rely largely, or at least in part, on volunteer employees. Even ­those organ­izations that are in for-­profit industries often only have ­limited and dispersed resources (if any) devoted to behaviour management. For ­those organ­izations without dedicated resources, the first step involves moving the prob­lem up in the orga­nizational or governmental agenda, so that ­people start to care about behaviour management (and the behaviour change of interest) in the first place. Thus, if you do not head up your organ­ization or if behaviour management is not a normal activity for your department, someone else—an individual, group, or organ­ization—­will have to, first, believe in your cause, and second, support your cause with the resources you need. Good candidates for this may include parties whose interest in curbing behaviours are perhaps less altruistic than yours. For example, the highly successful 10,000 steps (daily) initiative in Australia, which as of September 28, 2020, had more than 476,000 members who logged over 243 billion steps (http://­10000steps​.­org​.­au), was founded in 2001 by a collaboration of Queensland Health, CQ University, the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Sports Medicine Australia, and the National Heart Foundation.

As a marketer, one touches on many different fields (e.g., microeconomics, psychology, etc.), which allows us to coordinate, strategize, and approach the field of behaviour management with a holistic and integrated perspective. Finding situations where social marketing can be applied, assessing the context of the “product” and organ­ization, understanding the vari­ous segments of “consumers,” choosing a target segment, and executing a behaviour-­management strategy are all marketing pro­cesses. In ­doing this, we just have to take the relatively small step from one field of exchange to another.