Approaches >

Social Marketing

Full name

Social Marketing/Sanitation Marketing.


Social marketing grew out of commercial marketing in the 1970s, sanitation marketing is a specific application of social marketing. Strongly promoted by USAID and the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program. FOAM and SaniFOAM were developed by the World Bank WSP (Water and Sanitation Program) and Population Services International, UNICEF, LSHTM and the Hygiene Improvement Program (HIP) of USAID.

Sector/behaviour focus

Strong focus on hygiene and sanitation.

Focus within the process

Social marketing involves the whole analysis, design and implementation process.

What’s special

Social marketing aims to achieve the long-term sustainable uptake of goods, services and practices at large scale, by stimulating demand (consumer side) and promoting appropriate supply (market side). Focus on Product, Price, Place and Promotion, it is an approach that is best suited to stable contexts with functional markets and strong partnerships possible in the private, public and NGO sectors. It requires a lead time of several months before results start to be achieved in terms of changed behaviours, but, if successful, creates the conditions for sustained change which is driven by the population’s motivation and ability to secure goods and/or services in support of their new practices.
FOAM and SaniFOAM are frameworks for understanding the determinants of handwashing with soap (FOAM) and sanitation (SaniFOAM). SaniFOAM is used as the basis for the World Bank WSP Sanitation Marketing approach. These frameworks can be used to structure formative research, design and implementation for social marketing for sanitation and handwashing with soap. They present determinants in three different categories:

  1. Opportunity to practice the behaviour;
  2. Ability to practice the behaviour; and
  3. Motivation to practice the behaviour.

By researching the determinants in these different categories, it is possible to identify the barriers and enablers to address in order to effect behaviour change.

Supporting BC theories

Marketing and communications theories, Social cognition models (Health Belief Model // Protection Motivation Theory // Self-efficacy Theory // Theory of Reasoned Action // Theory of Planned Behavior) and stress on enabling factors (“opportunity” in the FOAM model).

Time required

6 months plus for the full social-marketing research process. If the FOAM and SaniFOAM frameworks are used simply as a research guide, then 4 to 6 weeks should be sufficient for formative research.

Expertise required

Knowledge of social marketing and ability to conduct or contract out market and consumer research/formative research, engage different stakeholders and facilitate development of a marketing strategy, including the communications strategy.

Training materials


WSP Toolkit web-based and pdf in English and French. FOAM and SaniFOAM materials are available in English.

Case studies and examples

None seen.


Phases I to IV are taken from the HIP Sanitation Marketing manual and Phase V is taken from the WSP Introductory Guide to Sanitation Marketing.


PHASE 1: Getting startedACTIVITY 1. Assembling the team.
ACTIVITY 2. Kickoff workshop.
ACTIVITY 3. Site/population desk study and analysis.
PHASE 2: Researching the sanitation market: understanding supply and demandACTIVITY 4. Rapid household sanitation assessment.
ACTIVITY 5. Rapid sanitation industry assessment.
ACTIVITY 6. In-depth consumer research.
ACTIVITY 7. In-depth latrine provider research.
ACTIVITY 8. Communication channels assessment study.


PHASE 3. Bringing it all together: from research to strategy designACTIVITY 9. Synthesizing research results.
ACTIVITY 10. Strategy development workshop.
PHASE 4. Preparing for action: developing sanitation marketing materialsACTIVITY 11. Partnership development.
ACTIVITY 12. Product and prototype design and development.
ACTIVITY 13. Communication plan and materials development.

Implementation, monitoring and evaluation

PHASE 5. ImplementationEngaging multiple sectors (non-profit, public and private) (see also PHASE IV Activity 11 above)
- Staffing the programme
- Capacity Building
- Monitoring
- Budgeting
- Sequencing activities