Studies assessing the practice of social marketing approach: the case of PSI Ethiopia health products
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Population Services International/Ethiopia (PSI/E), founded in 2003, engaged in social marketing and communication of health programs throughout the country but there are issues and questions raised by different stakeholders about the applicability and effectiveness of the approaches. Some claim; it cannot effectively influence audiences to behave and use products and services, others questions marketing approach applicability in the health field and most argued about the non government organization involvement in sales and marketing of health programs. The general objective of this study is to assess Population Services International’s practice of social marketing: identify the company practice of social marketing, determine the applicability to health, identify potential challenges, and to identify how the company measure its impact and interventions. This study was exploratory and descriptive in nature in order to gain in-depth information about the problem under investigation. This is an organizational-based, cross-sectional, formative assessment that exclusively employed qualitative research methods. The study revealed that social marketing is an easy way to tackle health problems and other social change activities since the interventions are focused and targeted in all aspects. In addition, social marketing ensures the sustainability of such interventions by engaging the private sector and sharing the burden of diseases with interested stakeholders by utilizing income generating activities. However, PSI/E is weak in the public relations and communication of its social marketing interventions to government officials and other stakeholders, and that weakness creates confusion among external customers. The organization also lacks marketing and sales professionals and is outweighed by the health professionals with less marketing knowledge and experience. PSI has a huge opportunity to diversify its interventions by using more marketing approaches. Therefore, in order apply the social marketing approach in a more successful way, PSI/E should do structured public relations, advocacy and sensitization workshops and involve more marketing professionals to get buy-in and support from the local government and other stakeholders as well for better marketing strategy design.