Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the view of integrated marketing communications (IMC) by social marketing practitioners. Specifically, the paper furthers the discussion how a symbiotic relationship between IMC and social marketing can lead to both practical improvements of health-related social marketing campaigns, as well as theoretical advancement of the IMC construct.
Design/methodology/approach: Based on semi-structured, in-depth interviews with practitioners, the authors provide exploratory evidence for support for IMC within the social marketing community and highlight potential differences and similarities when transferring IMC from a commercial to a social context.
Findings: Three main differences emerged when transferring IMC from a commercial to a social context. These include differences of customer-centric approaches between commercial and social marketing, the need to weigh out the application of IMC to the charity brand or the use of IMC at a behavioural level and, finally, different complexity levels of desired behaviour as a mediating factor.
Research limitations/implications: As with all qualitative data, the findings may not be generalisable beyond the interview participants and organisations studied.
Practical implications: Many practitioners expressed that they liked IMC as a concept, but they lacked guidance as to the application with a social marketing context. This paper contributes to providing this guidance and establishing a body of knowledge how IMC can be applied in a non-commercial setting.
Originality/value: The paper contributes to the practical development of guidance how the largely commercially applied IMC construct can be modified to be used in a social marketing context, while correspondingly highlighting how IMC needs to evolve to grow beyond purely commercial application.