A question popped up on the social marketing list serve today that deserves a wider conversation:
In these budget constrained times I have been thinking about stuff.
I am wondering about promotional items and their usefulness in creating behavior change, especially health behaviors.Do you think promotional and giveaway items make a difference in social marketing campaigns? I am not questioning items like pedometers that have a functional purpose in supporting a new behavior. What I wonder about is if giving out mugs, t-shirts, bags and the like supports our work in an important way? Are there certain age groups that “require” stuff to get their attention? Does a fridge magnet prompt me to screen my child for lead? Does an emery board message about mammograms get me to make an appointment?
We know awareness alone does not create change but how does it support contemplation or some other interim action?
My response was:
Four things 'stuff' can do:1. mark tribal or brand identity ("I am one of us") - if I self-identify as one, I will be more likely to act as one.
2. become a social object ('I want to talk about this with you') - when you see it, ask me about it. I want to share what I know or passionately believe in.
3. create ubiquity ('It's everywhere I go') - raises the salience (not the same as awareness) of the issue/product/service/behavior and thus the normative judgment.
4. cue action (Whoops, almost forgot to do it') - the best intentions still need prompts for behavior.
How do you successfully use stuff in your programs? What have you found to be a waste of time and money? What factors do you consider when deciding to 'buy stuff?' And can you measure their success?