Demarketing: Efforts aimed at discouraging (not destroying) the demand for a product which (1) a firm cannot supply in large-enough quantities, or (2) does not want to supply in a certain region where the high costs of distribution or promotion allow only a too little profit margin. Common demarketing strategies include higher prices, scaled-down advertising, and product redesign.
The term came to me as I was reviewing the New York City Health Department campaign 'Are You Pouring on the Pounds.' The health communication campaign is using outdoor signage and other elements of the communication Ps (PSAs, pamphlets, posters and publicity - oh, and a blog that I am delighted to see has comments turned 'on'!) to raise awareness of sugars in popular beverages and urge New Yorkers to cut back on sugary beverages and quench their thirst with water, seltzer or low-fat milk instead.
I have talked about obesity prevention many times here and have outlined how social marketing approaches can be used to address the obesity epidemic beyond the 5% solutions offered by communications programs such as this one.
The NYC project is a start, but if pubic health practice wants to move from simple communication campaigns to more complex and effective marketing ones, they might learn from the tobacco experiences and target the marketing mix, not the people. I am looking forward to reading a new article, Demarketing tobacco through governmental policies - The 4Ps revisited in the Journal of Business Research. As the authors note in their abstract (unfortunately all the information that is available online)
....governments use anti-smoking advertising to highlight the health risks of smoking and regulatory measures to dissuade consumers from consuming tobacco. In the past, governments tended to take these steps in isolation, now they are more likely to combine these strategies as part of a demarketing mix.
Sounds shockingly (?) familiar to ideas I have talked about with respect to needing new ways to think about and solve wicked problems. Perhaps the obesity community could start learning how to develop comprehensive demarketing programs rather than focus on recycling evidence based practices which more often than not stifle innovation and demonstrate how truly behind the times in strategy AND action they really are.
And the Institute of Medicine released a report today with a list of actions that hold the greatest potential to curb obesity rates among children. From the press release:
Many of these steps focus on increasing access to healthy foods and opportunities for active play and exercise. They include providing incentives to lure grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods; eliminating outdoor ads for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and drinks near schools; requiring calorie and other nutritional information on restaurant menus; implementing local "Safe Routes to School" programs; regulating minimum play space and time in child care programs; rerouting buses or developing other transportation strategies that ensure people can get to grocery stores; and using building codes to ensure facilities have working water fountains.
Gosh that sounds so...marketing (I added the underlines in case you missed them). Better products and services, accessibility and opportunities, incentives, promotion efforts (or reducing the industry's) - that about covers it.