The Centre for Socially Responsible Marketing is a Dhillon School of Business research team with the objective to foster research, to teach and to generate involvement in three related areas:
Social Marketing applies the principles of commercial marketing to encourage individuals to voluntarily change their behaviour to benefit themselves and society. Societal campaigns, such as “don’t drink and drive” or “wear your safety belt” all too often rely on high levels of fear and simply telling people of their high risk, assuming this will be enough to encourage people to change their behaviour. Social Marketing recognizes that education and fear do not change behaviour. Barriers to the desired behaviour must be identified and removed, and incentives for the desired behaviour must be offered.
Our social marketing research creates new knowledge addressing how best to encourage voluntary behaviour change by conducting primary research in areas of great importance to society. Specific examples of our work include research regarding fetal alcohol syndrome, workplace safety for young men in high injury industries, and reducing campus binge drinking.
Our social marketing research has helped government and nonprofit organizations improve the effectiveness of their campaigns. Examples include improving fear appeals for workplace safety, helping organizations define the role of communication in social marketing campaigns, and developing new offerings to reduce the incidence of driving after drinking.
We have published dozens of articles in both academic and practitioner journals, as well as books and book chapters on the topic of social marketing. We share knowledge with nonprofit, nongovernmental and governmental organizations through training seminars, conferences and workshops. We share knowledge with students through our Master of Science program, wherein students conduct original research in the field of social marketing. We share knowledge with the academic community through our bi-annual Social Marketing Advances in Research and Theory (SMART) conference, a well-known and well-respected conference bringing together social marketing researchers from around the world.
Social responsibility and sustainability
Business, government, and individuals must work together harmoniously for the long-term welfare of society. When this triadic relationship is out of balance, society suffers. Companies must be allowed to provide products and services to individuals and other companies at a profit to their shareholders, but their efforts must minimize harmful impacts on communities, workers and the environment.
We conduct research relating to corporate social responsibility, company-nonprofit partnerships, and company operations that benefit the environment. We have received major government grants to research water management and use issues, cause-related marketing (a company/non-profit marketing alliance) and company support for employee volunteerism. We have examined diverse issues in the realm of social and environmental sustainability, such as how to encourage hotel guests to reduce their towel usage and thus reduce water use, how to encourage individuals to bring reusable bags when grocery shopping, and how to encourage recycling.
We seek to make our research accessible and actionable. For example, our research on company support for volunteerism has helped both companies and nonprofits to understand what can be gained from such efforts, and what the risks are as well. In this case, we shared our research with the community by way of a collaborative seminar, bringing together companies and nonprofits for the benefit of both.
Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) face unique challenges, including shrinking budgets, donor fatigue, a proliferation of competing organizations, and increased donor skepticism. We conduct research to help nonprofit organizations navigate these troubled waters, and we bring this research to nonprofits through training seminars, conferences, articles, and books.
We have conducted numerous community workshops in the past three years, helping NPOs address their unique challenges. Some of the seminars we have conducted include "Creating Connections”, helping nonprofits to establish rewarding partnerships with companies, and “Encouraging Corporate Volunteerism”, helping nonprofits understand what motivates companies to offer their employees as volunteers, and how their organizations can position themselves to gain this benefit.
We address nonprofit needs through publication as well. We have conducted dozens of studies that resulted in actionable articles on nonprofit issues. Additionally, our research has resulted in one of the field’s most important textbooks on nonprofit marketing as well as a book providing valuable guidance on internet marketing for nonprofit organizations.
Our current research regarding the impact of company/nonprofit marketing alliances on nonprofit organizations has already proven useful to nonprofits seeking to understand what they can and cannot expect to gain from such alliances. Community focus groups gave local nonprofits the opportunity to discuss their alliances, exploring both the positive and negative outcomes. Our research seeks to benefit nonprofits as they turn to companies for support in the face of increasingly scarce funding.
These objectives are accomplished through a variety of avenues, including conferences, community workshops, internal research support and invited speakers.
Empowering and educating the nonprofit community
Vision, mission and history
We will be the premier Canadian institute for generating and disseminating knowledge regarding social marketing, nonprofit marketing, sustainability and social responsibility, providing organizations, companies and students with the tools they need to improve society.
To create knowledge and disseminate knowledge through research, to educate students, and to empower nonprofit personnel in the areas of social marketing, nonprofit marketing and management, and social and environmental sustainability.
The Centre for Socially Responsible Marketing (CSRM) was established in 2001. CSRM began as the dream of three University of Lethbridge marketing professors. We focused our efforts on issues relevant to CSRM, and from that time forward selected all new marketing hires according to their interest in CSRM issues.
Avenues of impact
We generate new knowledge through academic research to find more effective ways of managing our society’s human and environmental resources. Without rigorous, relevant research our knowledge stagnates. Support for the creation and dissemination of academic research helps us continue to propel these issues forward.
Social Marketing Advances in Research and Theory (SMART) Conference
This conference brings together academic researchers and advanced practitioners in the field of social marketing. Researchers attend from around the globe, sharing their knowledge and learning from each other. Those new to the field join with eminent scholars to advance social marketing knowledge. We have held this conference bi-annually since 2004. Historically it has attracted scholars from approximately 10 countries each meeting.
Social Responsibility Research Projects
Our members have conducted numerous research projects in the realm of social responsibility and sustainability. Some examples include examination of company/charity alliances, the impact of company support for employee volunteerism, encouraging recycling, and encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags to minimize plastic bag use.
We provide knowledge to students so that they can positively impact society as they enter the workforce and community life. As they gain employment and as they take part in their communities, effective training in these areas will help them to have maximal positive impact on their communities and on society.
Master of Science
Through the Dhillon School of Business' Master of Science program students can earn a masters degree in an intensive 12-month research-based program. Taking advantage of our expertise, students can focus their thesis research projects on areas of societal impact. This provides students with the double benefit of earning a traditional MSc degree in a short period of time while also specializing in areas of societal relevance.
Socially responsible marketing student research projects
Providing students with the guidance necessary to conduct significant, impactful independent study research projects has the dual benefit of contributing to our knowledge base and training students for future research positions in topics of social responsibility. Research projects are available to students at any level of study (undergraduate or graduate students) and can address any of our focal causes.
Socially responsible marketing lectures
Offering lectures for students and the community from internationally renowned academics and practitioners on social responsibility issues does more than spread knowledge. It also spreads passion for the topic area. These lectures can be a strong motivating force, sparking interest and commitment.
We help nonprofit organizations to build their capacities in order to more effectively and efficiently execute their missions. We provide knowledge, training, and assessment so nonprofits can implement their programs and campaigns more effectively, and recognize new opportunities. We frequently conduct workshops for individual organizations, and for groups of organizations with similar needs. These workshops address a variety of topics depending on the needs of the organization. Introduction to Social Marketing workshops are extremely popular and are an excellent means of helping organizations understand the benefits of social marketing, allowing them to increase the impact of their campaigns.
We have the unique advantage of five very accomplished researchers within the CSRM all working within the above areas of research. It is extremely rare for a university to have a critical mass of researchers in a common area such as this, all of whom have achieved a high level of accomplishment in their own right.
- Debra Basil, Professor of Marketing
- Mike Basil, Professor of Marketing
- Sameer Deshpande, Associate Professor of Marketing
- Tanya Drollinger, Associate Professor of Marketing
- Walter Wymer, Professor of Marketing