Social marketing: ready to help revolutionise marketing education

Harris, Fiona (2022). Social marketing: ready to help revolutionise marketing education. Journal of Social Marketing, 12(3) pp. 354–370.



Purpose: This paper aims to explore ways through which social marketing could help to revolutionise marketing education and argues that this change is needed now. The world is confronting a variety of serious challenges, including a global pandemic, an urgent climate emergency and overdue social transformations. Social marketing, with its far-sightedness, holistic systems thinking and genuine concern for the well-being of society and the environment, is ideally positioned to step forward to help accelerate the transformation of marketing education for the next generation of marketers.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper is conceptual and is informed by the literature on social marketing over its 50 years history, supplemented by the wider marketing literature. A SWOT analysis is used to analyse the proposed transformation of marketing education.

Findings: Six strengths are proposed by which social marketing can help to revolutionise marketing education, identified under the acronym COHERE: collaboration with a diversity of disciplines and stakeholders; openness to sharing knowledge, experience and detailed case studies; a holistic approach with a longer time horizon; engaging authentically with the social good; research that breaks new ground in theory and practice; and ethics embedded at its core.

Practical implications: The opportunities to help revolutionise marketing education offered through these strengths are explored, the weaknesses and threats acknowledged and the implications for marketing and social marketing analysed.

Originality/value: This paper proposes how (through the six identified strengths) and when (now) social marketing can help revolutionise marketing education, by adopting a dual lens of social and commercial marketing.

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