As residents of Contra Costa County ourselves, Brown·Miller Communications, Inc. is pleased to be working with Healthy and Active Before 5 and First 5 Contra Costa to develop a multi-year social marketing campaign to reduce childhood obesity in our own backyard. We are currently conducting extensive formative research, including key informant interviews, surveys and focus groups, as the first phase in developing a social marketing plan.
No one lives in a vacuum and, whether we like to admit it or not, our behaviors are shaped by a multitude of influencers. Social marketing embraces that reality, developing interventions aimed not only at the individual but more broadly at the people and environments that influence them.
Social marketing approaches are especially important when working with young children, since they have very limited ability to control their choices and environments. Instead, it’s important to impact the decisions of parents, family members, child care providers, pediatricians and others who influence their early behaviors. Not only does social marketing deliver impact, but it also provides the framework for sustainable behavior change.
Young children who are surrounded by positive, encouraging messages about nutrition are far more likely to develop lifelong healthy eating habits and behaviors that will withstand the barrage of marketing efforts they will face in coming years. What’s more, at this early age the limited core of influencers reduces the need for a far reaching and more expensive campaign that would be required for older children in order to reverse already ingrained poor habits. Among children under five, the environmental challenges are more easily controlled as well, since they are largely limited to home and day care settings, both of which have a vested interest in developing healthy children. That said, food and beverage corporations, anxious to capture the taste loyalties of early consumers, have ramped up their own marketing efforts to this young audience, consequently, a social marketing campaign must also address the insidious marketing to very young children in television, product placements and computer games.
In the coming weeks we’ll work closely with the First 5 Contra Costa and the Healthy and Active Before 5 planning team to develop impactful messages that encourage adoption of healthier behaviors, as well as innovative strategies to support the dissemination and promotion of those messages to key audiences, influencers and policymakers.
Brown Miller Communications, Inc