Posts tagged ‘research’

New Research Suggests The Color Pink is Bad for Breast Cancer

Gender Cue ResearchA new research area around gender cues and its impact on awareness and fundraising efforts is just getting off the ground according to Dr. Stefano Puntoni, an Associate Professor of Marketing Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, in an interview conducted by Harvard Business Review.

“[Gender que research] is quite new…Over the past 10 years, researchers have put more effort into thinking about consumer welfare. What can we we do as researchers to help consumers make better decisions?” Dr. Puntoni said. “How can we effect change in areas like overeating and disease prevention? This is part of that. We could go more general with gender cue research, but breast cancer is such an important disease that I want to study this more on its own.”

Dr. Puntoni is talking about the findings from 10 different experiments over the past three years that suggest gender cues (such as the color pink) may be counter-productive to campaigns against women’s diseases, such as breast cancer awareness and fundraising efforts. The main insight from the research found that when women saw branding that included gender cues (like the color pink), the branding and ads were less effective. Why? Possibly because the subconscious goes into a state of denial, causing women to:

  • Think they are less likely be at risk
  • Say they are less likely to donate in reaction to a breast or ovarian cancer advertisement

The infographic below created by One to One Global highlights more of the Dr. Puntoni’s research:

Gender Cue Research

Komen Responds

A spokeswomen for Susan G. Komen responded to the research in Ad Age saying that: “The research is food for thought but pink has worked well over the years,” she said. “I would say that in our experience for over 30 years now we’ve been pretty successful using pink. We’ve raised over $2 billion for research and community programs to help people with breast cancer. I don’t want to necessarily discount [the research]. It’s something to look at and consider, but our historic experience has been that we’re doing okay with the pink.”

The AdAge article continues:

Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980, also wore a lot of pink, the spokeswoman said, forming a strong association for her sister Nancy G. Brinker, who later founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “It’s not just a random color we selected,” she said. “It actually reflects the connection between the two sisters and the promise that was made.”

Though some have seen success with the color pink specifically, the research around gender cues is “something to consider” for breast cancer and beyond. Just like there’s cause fatigue, perhaps there’s been so much success—that younger generations of women don’t see the risk or the need to donate.

What do you think?

Puntoni, S., Sweldens, S. & Tavassoli, N.T. (2011). Gender Identity Salience and Perceived Vulnerability to Breast Cancer. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(June), 413-424.
flickr credit: ILRI

Margaret Mead Predicts Social Science

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” Margaret Mead said this in the early 20th century. Who knew that in the early nineteen hundreds, she’d be quoting today’s science?

People and Crowds

A new study conducted at the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on how beliefs spread through social networks found that minority rules: Only 10% of a population needs to be convinced of a new or different opinion to change the beliefs of an entire community.

According to the article, there are two main take-aways for those in the public health space:

  • Public health campaigns might do well to target a small percentage of a community.
  • Getting an entire population to adopt a new belief might require simply convincing 10 percent to believe it first.

In an interview, Prof. Boleslaw Szymanski, director of SCNARC, was quoted saying:

“We suggested,” Sreenivasan said, “that instead of trying to convince everyone, it might make the most sense to target selectively the people who are open-minded enough to hear out the evidence and make up their minds rationally.”

Reading through the details of this study is fascinating and so many questions come to mind for future exploration:

  • Is minority rule a good thing? This research helps us better understand the importance to develop messages, materials and services with a certain community in mind to help ignite a movement. However, taken to the extreme, one can’t help but wonder about this insight being applied with misguided intent.
  • Is 10% the tipping point? Once you reach 10% of the population–is that the tipping point for spreading ideas through social networks and alter behaviors on a larger scale?
  • Does this rule apply across the board? According to the article, the research is still in its early stages. It’s uncertain if this 10% rule will apply to all kinds of beliefs, especially political ones.
  • How does this connect with influencer theory? So much has been said about the role of influencers: who they are and how to connect with them–and if that even matters. Craig Lefebvre made a good point during last week’s CDC conference that the hyper-focus on influencers leads to a “distraction from understanding who are the ‘influenced’ and what can we learn from them.” I tend to agree.

What about you–What’s your reaction to this research?

flickr credit: ThisParticularGreg

Quote of the Week: From Declaration to Implementation

Continuing this new series, I’d like to highlight a great, young mind–Akhila Kolisetty. Currently a student at Northwestern University, Akhila shares a unique willpower that refuses to be distracted and instead, stays committed and focused on international human rights.

If you want to get back in touch with what motivates you to do good, get to know Akhila. She writes with a focused idealism about how things should be–and doesn’t accepts things as they are.

In Akhila’s recent post, “The 21st Century Approach to Human Rights,” Akhila writes:

“We need to shift away from a time of declaration and into the era of implementation.”

Akhila goes on to defend her stance in the frame of human rights work–rallying for systemic transformation and change. Not only do I admire Akhila’s position, but I am also a fan of her quote. Why? Because there are many places where this quote can apply to our work. For example, some organizations and individuals get “paralysis by analysis.” They get stuck in the cycle of rehashing research and developing plans–that implementation lags behind. Don’t get me wrong–declaration of rules, appropriate research, and strategic planning are important–but implementation and execution are also necessary.

Take it to a personal level. Have you ever had a crush on someone? You plan and imagine what you will say or how to take that person out, but if you never make the ask–asking the person out–then you may have a case of paralysis by analysis.

Thank you Akhila for the great thoughts and quote. What about you–does any of this sound familiar to you or your organization?

flickr credit: Paldavo

Where Have All the Social Products Gone?

The debate between marketing and sales is not an old one. In fact, we’ve looked at this debate here at SB before. But one thing both sides can agree on: is that both have a relationship with products and services. Thus, if we are talking about social marketing, you don’t have to go far before you start wondering: Where are all the social products?

I’m not the first to ask this question, as I was inspired a bit back by Bill Smith of AED who challenged us social marketers to balance the scales more between the promotion side of marketing and the product side of marketing. And it was again highlighted in the Social Marketing Quarterly’s Summer issue.

Now, some people when they hear products–the hairs on the back of their neck raise. How can marketing products be in line with social marketing behaviors? This is because some people align a “product” with “revenue.” Then, it just gets sticky–often, these arguments are short sighted in my opinion. Before I get completely side tracked from my original purpose of this post, let’s keep moving forward.

I like the concept of “social products” also because it’s a moment to be creative. What products could exist that would help us live healthier, happier? Thus, instead of creating yet another 30-second PSA, take time in the conference room to consider the product side of marketing.

There’s more research available about leveraging products in a social marketing strategy, but I like how Nedra Weinreich sums it up on her company Web site:

“In order to have a viable product, people must first perceive that they have a genuine problem, and that the product offering is a good solution for that problem. The role of research here is to discover the consumers’ perceptions of the problem and the product, and to determine how important they feel it is to take action against the problem.”

Some Examples

  • The Red Card. Bill Smith shared this example with us at the 2008 World Social Marketing Card. Rather than just create a PSA to curb sexual pressure and abuse among young girls in Madagascar, AED created the red card–a product–that girls could use as an added to tool to say no.
  • FDA’s Peanut Recall Widget. In addition to creating press releases and sending out Tweets, the FDA and CDC worked together to create a tool in the form of a widget–a product–that people could use to find recalled food items they should avoid purchasing.
  • Road Crew. Services can also be part of the “product” piece of marketing. In Wisconsin, Road Crews offer rides to those who have drank too much to drive as a way to curb drunk driving.

Do you know where all the social products have gone? Feel free to share examples or future ideas.

Q & A on Social Marketing

Speaking of experts, I would deem Craig Lefebvre as one of them, and an amazing one. On his blog, he recently posted a set of questions terming it “An Environmental Scan of Social Marketing.” In a brave and humble (very humble) attempt, I am going to address my responses here in the form of a blog post.

I highly encourage discussion because as another expert I love, Chris Dorobek would say, “all of us are smarter together than each of us individually.”

1. When is it product marketing and when is it social marketing?

This conversation can roll into a number of conversations, but I feel the question is really getting to “What is social marketing and how to you define it?” WIkipedia has it’s answer, and I know Stephen Dann has developed a wonderful definition as well. In sum and in brief, I would say that social marketing begins with influencing behavior change for social good. And on that same note, I would strongly encourage diving into more research beginning with the Social Marketing Quarterly, Andreason’s Social Marketing in the 21st Century, and some of Stephen Dann’s research.

2. What is the size of the social marketing market?

Now, we don’t have an association. We don’t have full, formal degree programs (at least in the U.S.) yet. But, I would still argue that the social marketing market is quite larger than most realize. I propose that social marketing is a much wider umbrella than it has been characterized in the past. Social marketing encompasses public health, but also civil safety, social change, environmental issues, non-profit causes, and as I proposed in my master’s thesis, even has strong similarities when it comes to strategies, tools and ehical frameworks of journalism and advertising.

3. What are the 3 major issues in social marketing?

In terms of the field itself, I would say there are three persistent issues. These include the branding of the field, creating formal education programs, and providing avenues for collaboration and best practices such as an international or national association.

4. What are the red flags for who does, or does not, design and implement social marketing programs?

This list could be very in-depth, but I think the most common red flag given is when some confuse social marketing with social media marketing. Blogger Andre Blackman had a great post this week distinguishing between the two. Social media can be applied within the social marketing framework, but social marketing is a much bigger net than social media.

5. How many social programs (or what percentage of them) are evaluated?

This might depend on how you define “social programs,” whether government funded, community based or non-profit driven. I might have to call on some of our other social marketing people to respond to this question. As an educated guess, I would say most programs have some sort of benchmarks that they are evaluated on. I do not have an actual percentage on hand though. To what extent are they evaluated and/or should be evaluated may be other good questions.

6. What are some of the more sophisticated methods used in these evaluations?

Both this question and the next depend largely on what is actually measured and why. And thus, deserves a much larger conversation than these lines can provide. For example, as many communications leverage social and mobile technologies, data analytics will be critical. Once the new tools are so “new,” people will be wanting to show results and extract meaning. Thus, programs like Salesforce, Radian6, and others are largely being researched to bring programs full circle so that analytics drive strategy.

7. What types of methods are used in formative research?

Formative research may include both qualitative and quantitative research methods, or a triangulation strategy that calls for a mixture of both. Some different types of research formats include a needs assessment, developing audience profiles, media scans, environmental scans, surveys, in-depth interviews, focus group testing, usability studies, and more.

8. What percentage of social marketing program budgets are devoted to evaluation?

This is a good question whether social marketing or just marketing in general is being discussed. Often, I would say that evaluation is considered too late in the game or not stretched through as much as it could be. It is important to make measurable objectives from the beginning and think out those baselines before implementing. Also, it often depends on the client, project, task, and resources available that determines how much of the budget is devoted to evaluation. Thus, as a professor might say, it depends. Now, another good question might be:  how much should be devoted?

9. Who are the innovators in the field?

That can be YOU! In terms of organizations, the National Centre of Social Marketing in the U.K. is doing great work that many of us are excited about. In the United States, the CDC’s e-Health Marketing group tends to lead the way. I would also add that both and the EPA are also making great strides with some of their case studies that apply new media to communications and behavior change.

10. Who are the premier thought leaders?

In no particular order: Bill Smith, Alan Andreasen, Stephen Dann, Michael Rothschild, Philip Kotler, Gerard Hastings, Mike Newton-Ward, Nancy Lee, Craig LefebvreNedra Weinreich, Doug Mckenzie-Mohr, Jeff French, Clive Blair-Stevens, Francois Lagarde, Seynabou Mbengue, Tane Cassidy, Mike Kujawski, Katherine Lyon Daniel, you….you….and did you get, that the next one could be YOU? I know it said premier, but all of these people and others are great. Together, we can all help build the social marketing field.

11. What conferences and publications do you use to keep up with the field?

Social Marketing Quarterly, the C-Change e-newsletter, numerous blogs, numerous books, the Social Marketing Listserv, the Social Marketing Wiki, events in the U.K., events at the University of South-Florida, and others. Additionally though, I also look to non-profit organizations and publications, as well as international development, new media and others to review best practices in other fields and see how they may resonate within the practice of social marketing.

In sum, many of these questions focused around evaluation. In other words, how do we know that what we are doing is working? Now THAT’S a conversation worth having. Now it’s your turn. How do you answer some of these questions (especially 5-8)? And, what other questions do you also have?

Tagging: Spare Change, Pulse and Signal, Social Marketing Panorama, Stephan Dahl

Crossing the line or a Creative Cross? MySpace Research with “Dr. Meg”

Have you heard of Dr. Meg? Maybe not, but if you’re a teen on MySpace you may have. Interesting research that was first published in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showed that adult supervision of MySape can raise adolescents’ awareness of how accessible their profiles are online.

To come to this conclusion, Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and fellow researchers, embarked on two separate studies to explore this issue further. Both research studies are to 1) encourage increased parental and adult supervision by family and friends, and 2) to potentially encourage similiar outreach approaches.

Dilemma: To Cross or not to Cross the Ethical Line

The research is very interesting, however, I feel an ethical discussion must be had. I am not saying Moreno’s approach was wrong or right, but I think we should slow down and discuss it further to learn and develop best practices, as well as ethical guidelines, especially since others may adopt this practice towards younger youth.

Headlines have buzzed about “Busybody Dr. Meg,” concluding that this outreach and behavior-change may offer hope to future, similiar methods being implemented by others. To me, I feel there can be high-levels of concerns with a universal application of this approach unless the strategy and concept is stretched. Including, but not limited to – the age those being contacted, how people are being contacted, the language and type of approach involved, the privacy and the stalking-like component, among other items. Additionally, does it matter who, as in which type of organizations embark on this strategy? For example, I can foresee potential problems if adopted by government health agencies and citizens’ concerns over freedom of expression. Curious on others’ thoughts on this! 😉

Background About the Studies

Study 1. For the first, researchers located 190 MySpace public profiles in a single urban ZIP code, randomly selected from 10 U.S. Census areas with the lowest average income because researchers wanted to target adolescents who might have less access to doctors.

All the users involved revealed that they were 18 to 20 years old and their pages included three or more references to sex, drinking, drug use or smoking. Of the 190 profiles selected, half were sent “Dr. Meg” e-mails. After three months, 42% of those getting a “Dr. Meg” e-mail had either set their profiles to “private,” or they had removed both sexual or substance usage references. 29% of those not contacted made changes over the three-month period.

Study 2. In another study, Moreno and other researchers looked at 500 randomly selected MySpace profiles of 18-year-olds nationwide and found that more than half contained references to risky behavior such as sex, drinking and violence.

Your Turn: Crossing the line or a creative cross?

What do you think? I agree that there is a growing issue and concern for online safety and online identity of teens, youth, young adults and people in general, and this is an interesting new development to the field. How can you see this approach being adopted by your organization, or what would be your reaction if you were approached? Am I over-reacting?

photo credit: LoonSky

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Defining Health 2.0

According to a January 2008 study titled How America Searches, Health and Wellness:

  • In the past 12 months, 59% of adults reference the internet to find or access health and wellness information.
  • 67% of adult searchers use general search engines as an online tool or resource for health information and only 7% referred to online drug advertisements.
  • 36% of adult searchers use online health information to see what other consumers say about a medication or treatment

Because of statistics like those above, the concept of ‘Health 2.0’ has increased its usage and importance. Simply, Health 2.0 = the merging of social media into healthcare. However, others see the movement of Health 2.0 as something much wider and farther reaching. Even Google image searching shows a variety of more complex definitions. I’d be interested to see how you all define it for yourselves or for your practice.

Examples of Health 2.0


  • , started in 2006, is the marketplace for care, allowing hospitals and providers to ‘bid’ for consumers’ care
  •, allows patients to review their current doctor’s or a potential doctor’s reviews and ratings
  • DoubleCheckMD, allows consumers to check for potential drug interactions quickly and easily
  • American Well , creates a healthcare marketplace where consumers and physicians come together online to acquire and provide convenient and immediate healthcare services


  • Wikipedia
  • FluWiki
  • WiserWiki, a medical and healthcare information wiki edited exclusively by physicians
  • Clinfo Wiki, a wiki devoted to clinical informatics
  • Ask Dr. Wiki, allows those with a medical background to publish review articles, clinical notes, pearls and/or medical images to the wiki. The main focus has been on Cardiology and Electrophysiology, but they have expanded to other areas.


  • DiabetesMine, a blog all about diabetes
  • HealthMatters (Healthline), a collection of weblogs by professionals, covering different aspects of health, wellness, treatments, and recent advances
  • WebMD, provides health and health-related information

Social Networks


  • ICYou, the source of healthcare videos and videos related to health information
  • Cleveland Clinic on Google Video
  • TauMed, a virtual health community where one can search and share information on a variety of health topics

Online Forums



Health 2.0 researchers warn that patients should be cautious about posting personal health-related information through unsecured social media as health insurance providers could gain access to this information, as well as potential employers.


Social Media combined with health information, patients and user-generated content can be used for:

  • User-generated health ratings for hospitals and doctors
  • Bridge the gap between doctor and patient
  • Bring communities together in new, innovative ways
  • Establishing patients as opinion leaders
  • Managing health and managing community health in new ways

For specific case studies and more information, view this report titled: The Wisdom of Patients: Health Care Meets Online Social Media prepared for the California Healthcare Foundation by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is Health 2.0 helpful or harmful?
  • Is the content trustrworthy? Does it matter? Will consumers take the information at face value?
  • Why are patients labeled as consumers? What does this mean/say about how health 2.0 is being approached?
  • What are the ethical concerns?
  • What are the privacy concerns?

Can’t wait to read your insights in the comments. =)

B2School Monday Minute: What is a 'non-profit'

I recently overheard a conversation that got me thinking. Here’s a clip from the conversation:

Person 1: With the rise of a third sector, defined as the non-profit sector, how will this affect both the private and public sectors? And, what are the relationships between the three and what will that mean for the future?

Person 2: Well, what is non-profit? Non-profit means merely a tax break. You have two kinds of non profits. Those that are genuinely good and advocate for their cause efficiently and effectively, but then you have those that don’t. So, when you say non-profit, you’re merely talking about a tax break.

Needless to say, this conversation got me wondering, and I’m still pondering. What is a non-profit? And, say the word ‘non-profit’ is a brand….how do current consumers perceive this brand?

I feel these questions are important because whether you are a political organization, grassroots, religions, a charity, professional organization, foundation, community oriented, advocacy organization, special interest group, etc… how the broad term non-profit is ‘branded’ and perceived could have large implications for your success.

Graduate student from Case Western Reserve University, Kate Luckert, provides a great outline on the definition of non-profits and various examples, including why they may/are important.

About. com‘s definition tends to support Person 2’s definition of a nonprofit:

A nonprofit organization is one that has committed legally not to distribute any net earnings (profits) to individuals with control over it such as members, officers, directors, or trustees. It may pay them for services rendered and goods provided.

The European Research Network states that there is no universally accepted definition to the term: non-profit sector. There is also no universally accepted social marketing definition. My view though is…. if the term non-profit lacks in credibility and reputation, the term social marketing should be used more often to describe certain effots.

Many organizations practice social marketing, but they don’t know it or realize it. Some people say that the term social marketing is too limiting, however, I see it more as an umbrella term backed with credible research.


  • nonprofit.
  • social marketing.
  • private sector.
  • public sector.

How do they relate?

One Thing

“If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldn’t that be something?”



This may not be the one thing the group Finger Eleven was singing about, but Rosetta Thurman of the blog Perspectives from the Pipeline asks about a certain one thing….

What one thing should we do to improve the state of the nonprofit sector?
At the prompt of this question, numerous ideas run through my head. But, one main idea that stands out among the rest is the following concept: collaboration.
In my opinion, increased collaboration could break down many of the barriers and challenges various causes, issues and non-profits. Collaboration increases the bank of ideas, funds, resources, talent and people. I’m not just declaring a collaboration of practitioners in our sector though, but a total collaboration: with academics, think tanks, politicians, government, the education system, as well as the NGOs.
Collaboration is often a buzzword in any organization or classroom. But what about if we revitalized what true collaboration could be?
  • What if, for a cause, the executive director called a meeting of community members or held a forum for bloggers to collaborate with them on solving issues?
  • What if management and staff switched roles for a day to better understand each other’s role and position.
  • What if journalists sat and discussed issues with lobbyists as well as politicians and each other?
  • What is NGOs partnered with research institutions to see how to better address policy issues?
  • What is research institutions talked to journalists to learn to find out more about what the stories are and what begs attentions and remains unexplored?

Now, I know the question asked specifically about the non-profit sector…but what is the nonprofit sector? What is the private sector? or the public sector? Why divisions and not more communication and more collaboration? How do the three relate? I think the non-profit sector needs to infiltrate the other sectors through the tools of collaboration…and social change for the welfare of the public may be heightened.

*I will also note that this concept of collaboration is one I continue to explore and educate myself on as it is one area of my research, so I encourage comments or suggestions.


“If (we) knew all about this one thing……wouldn’t that be something?!?”

A Little Known Idea for Evaluation: User Interface Test

…does the concept User Interface ring a bell? What a User-Interface test?

As I hinted to in my last post, I think the evaluation step is maybe one of the most important steps a marketing plan can include, yet many lack. Doing evaluation, allows one to:

  • Reflect on the strengths of the campaigns
  • Document the process so there’s no reinventing the wheel for next time
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Lets you gain and track client feedback
  • Find ‘lessons to learn from’
  • Calculate ROI and compare to previous years/cases

For best evaluation results, one should meet with a team, get outside feedback, talk to the client(s), key associates or other employees who had a hand in the project. Now, it the fun part. I want to introduce to you a great, but commonly unknown tool to add to your evaluation methods: the User Interface Test.

User Interface is a concept that describes how users interact with a website. If you’ve ever had any of the following questions, then conducting a User Interface test might be right up your alley:

  1. What should be on the homepage?
  2. Should the main graphic be video, a slideshow, a moving graphic, etc.?
  3. Where should the ‘search’ button go?
  4. Is our website easy to use?
  5. How functional is our website?
  6. What’s the message our users are getting?
  7. What would make our website easier to use?
  8. When someone first comes to our site, what’s the first thing they see?
  9. What would get users to spend more time on our pages?
  10. Does everything on our site communicate our message?
  11. Does our content engage the reader?
  12. What is someone expecting when they come to our site?
  13. Is the site easy to use?
  14. Is our site customize-able?
  15. Does our site have a professional tone? or an appropriate tone?
  16. Does our site speak relevance to those trafficking the site?
  17. Does the design capture attention?
  18. How do our users interact with our site?

If you find yourselves asking these questions and similar others, then a User Interface test could be right up your alley! To test your User Interface, you can use either quantitative or qualitative approaches. Four qualitative approaches are outlined below.

  1. Time to Task: Tests ability for tester to complete an action to user’s satisfaction in a decent time.
  2. Accuracy: Tests the accuracy of the website and the information found.
  3. Emotional Response: Tests how the testee responds to their overall experience on the site or in conducting their tasks.
  4. Recall/Repetition: Tests ability to recall the process it takes to find desired information. Also looks as how the testee’s ability to recall where he or she is on the website and how he or she arrived there.

To create quantitative results, one can have testee fill out forms measuring various categories on a scale of 1-5 (customization, professionalism or tone, design, organization, usefulness, relevance, and interactivity.)

Hope this little research tidbit, and way of evaluating your website comes in hand.