From the 4Ps to COM-SM

reconfiguring the social marketing mix

Ross Gordon, Alan Tapp, Fiona Spotswood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, the authors aim to contend that the 4Ps of social marketing have been stretched beyond breaking point. Originally designed for social marketing mixes that contained products and prices, the social marketing 4Ps are no longer fit for purpose in an age where social marketing interventions are so wide ranging. There is an urgent need for a replacement a model that helps social marketers with the process of choosing an appropriate intervention design to fit the particular behaviour change problem faced. Here, the authors propose a model, the COM-SM framework, that connects social marketing programme types with the capability, opportunity, motivation model of behaviour. This article is based on critical review of the efficacy of the 4Ps model in helping managers design social marketing programmes, followed by the conceptual development of an alternative. Using some typical scenarios, it is contended that the COM-SM model better enables the marketer to adapt their designs to fit the behavioural challenges that they face. The COM-SM model reworks the association between behaviour change insights and the social marketing mix, proposing a new way of designing social marketing interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-222
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • 4Ps of social marketing
  • COM: capability
  • Marketing
  • motivation
  • opportunity
  • social marketing theory

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