Social marketing has become an effective way of motivating low-income and high-risk people to adopt healthy behavior, including the use of needed health products and services. PSI has become the leading social marketing organization in the world, specializing in HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, and maternal and child health. PSI has almost 6,500 employees in the 70 countries where it operates, of which 98% are citizens of the countries they serve.
Social marketing, as practiced by PSI, combines education to motivate healthy behavior with the provision of needed health products and services to lower-income persons. PSI motivates a wide variety of healthy behaviors, including use of products and services. PSI procures products, establishes an office and distribution system, and sells the products through the wholesale and retail network, primarily to lower-income persons.
Products and services are branded, attractively packaged, widely marketed, effectively promoted to the poor and selected target groups, and sold at low prices affordable to the poor. Since this retail price is often even lower than the manufacturing cost (so the poor can afford the price), donor contributions are a vital element of the social marketing process.
A key ingredient of successful social marketing is effective communications to encourage the adoption of appropriate health practices (including proper use of the products and services). This is done by brand-specific advertising as well as by generic educational campaigns, using a mix of strategies and channels, including mass media and interpersonal communications, to reach the target audience(s).