Down at the (social) market

Dude, do I look concerned enough?

The IHT writes about the current wave of scepticism over social marketing, a market-inspired strategy to get the poor to start using mosquito nets by asking them to pay a minimum price for them, which the WHO’s director Dr. Arata Kochi bluntly describes as a pointless approach to reach the most vulnerable.

Clearly, no one has informed of such policy-shift Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who’ve been visiting Tanzanian hospitals implementing government-backed and USAID-funded net distribution facilities adopting a social marketing strategy, allegedly very successfully.

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4 responses to “Down at the (social) market

  1. PSI and other Northern NGOs also make the argument in favor of the marketing approach, for the very simple reason that you value something more if you have to pay to get it. But the WHO director has a point: demand is likely highly elastic for these goods. Unless you can stiffen demand by going around and giving training and publicity, how well a social marketing strategy works is going to depend a lot on the particular social and cultural context.

    A more important difference emerges: rich Northern countries tend to prefer highly structural solutions to similar problems – quarantine and eradicate a disease, drain/fumigate swamps to kill mosquitos, etc. – because there’s loads of evidence to suggest that it’s very hard, if not impossible, to condition behavior at a society wide level. Yet when the North approaches the South, behavior modification is the regle du jour, whether it’s promoting abstinence/condom use or distributing mosquito nets. Is this because the structural solutions are a luxury beyond the North’s generosity and the South’s affordability?

  2. You can and should still conduct social marketing alone with efforts to give away free nets/condoms. This is not about paying or not paying, it is about being effective and if you just give it away, not everyone gets it. Let’s all read this paper and discuss.

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