Social Marketing through Events

Sammanfattning: In today’s society, events are used as a mens to achieve a variety of goals, including increased tourism and economic improvement. Events also offer opportunities for communication, both through the visitor experience and through the publicity that is generated. In this line of research, an emerging perspective on events as catalysts of behaviour change has increasingly been addressed by event scholars and is the focus of this thesis. Within the marketing discipline, one field that involves behaviour change is social marketing. Undesired behaviours are targeted for replacement by alternative behaviours that are considered more beneficial from an individual and societal perspective. Social marketing can be directed downstream, which is a direct address of individual behaviours, or upstream, which considers attempts to influence the behaviours of actors who shape the environment in which individuals exist. This thesis describes how downstream social marketing research has shifted from a traditional perspective of influencing individual consumers’ behaviours through the promotion of ideas to a broader perspective that seeks to understand consumers’ search for hedonic or social response in relation to behaviour change. In this direction, this thesis suggests and explores the construct of the experiencescape in the social marketing research field. Scholars have suggested that the upstream direction has traditionally been neglected, and there is a need to advance upstream theory to guide upstream social marketing. Within upstream social marketing, publicity is recognized as an important means to influence policy and policy makers. Events’ capacity to generate publicity and awareness of issues can be utilized for social marketers. To theoretically address this issue, framing theory is introduced in a social marketing context. Through the lens of social marketing, this thesis explores how events can be used to influence behaviour change. A mixed-methods approach is employed to collect case study data from the perspectives of various stakeholders, for instance public organizations, visitors, event producers, advocacy groups. This thesis demonstrates that through the event experience, visitors’ access to alternative behaviours can be temporarily enhanced. The event experience comprises a variety of dimensions that can be used to influence individual consumers’ behaviour. It is argued that experiences of social marketing products in an event setting that contrasts the mundane have implications for perceived consumer value and thus for behaviour adoption and maintenance. It is concluded that events enable social marketing communication beyond traditional information-based promotion. The study also explores how framing theory can guide attempts to use publicity for upstream purposes. As such, this thesis shows how eventgenerated publicity can be framed and thus can be an approach for social marketers. By introducing the theoretical construct of the experiencescape this thesis contributes to expand the area of social marketing. The experiencescape provides a lens that acknowledges consumers’ emotions and search for a hedonic response as central to influencing behaviour. This concept resonates with the emerging perspective of consumer perceived value as a driver of behaviour adoption. Moreover, this thesis contributes by exploring publicity as a means of social marketing. It is concluded that framing theory, particularly the sub-process of frame-building, provides a framework for considering how publicity frames may be approached in upstream social marketing. Finally, practical strategies are discussed regarding stakeholders' use of events to influence downstream and upstream behaviour change. It is suggested that from a social marketing perspective, there is an unleashed potential for destinations to manage event portfolios because in addition to the traditional rationale of using events as a means to achieve economic goals, the intersection between events and a social and environmental agenda for sustainable development provides interesting opportunities. This possibility applies to recurring hallmark events that—by definition—are locally embedded in social and cultural structures.

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