Social marketing is about bringing producers closer to consumers and forming direct links which gets round problems of providing goods and services in response to a demand in the wider market.
Serving unmet needs in disadvantaged communities and areas of economic crisis has some serious handicaps. Some such handicaps are the low purchasing power amongst the local population; and the needs which require special targeting of services and adaptation of products in relation to numbers, quality and price. The needs cannot be met with technologies of mass production or economies of scale. These are - together with low expectations of profitability - the main reasons why the private, profit-oriented sector does not invest in such ‘socially and economically restricted’ markets. But local development initiatives all over Europe have found new solutions by inventing social marketing techniques. The basic idea behind social marketing is to suspend anonymous market mechanisms and replace them by involving customers, clients or users actively in the development and finally in the production of goods and services. Examples of this type of marketing are producer-consumer cooperatives which started in the field of ecologically-sound agriculture and this has now been adopted by social enterprises working in the provision of neighbourhood services.
Birkhölzer, K. (2008): Local Economic Development and its Potential.