Social marketing interventions aiming to increase physical activity among adults: a systematic review

Krzysztof Kubacki*, Rimante Ronto, Ville Lahtinen, Bo Pang, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: A significant proportion of the world’s adult population is insufficiently active. One approach used to overcome barriers and facilitate participation in physical activity is social marketing. The purpose of this paper are twofold: first, this review seeks to provide a contemporary review of social marketing’s effectiveness in changing physical activity for the better; and second, it seeks to ascertain the extent that Andreasen’s (2002) six social marketing benchmark criteria have been applied in social marketing interventions targeting physical activity. Design/methodology/approach: In total, 94 articles covering 26 social marketing interventions were identified following systematic literature review procedures. Findings: None of the interventions gave evidence that they addressed all six social marketing benchmark criteria, and only four interventions addressed five criteria. The results indicate that three of the benchmark criteria, namely, behavioural objectives, formative research, and marketing mix are well utilised in social marketing interventions. Inclusion of market segmentation, exchange and competition offers potential to extend further on social marketing’s effectiveness in increasing physical activity. Originality/value: The results of the current study indicate that increasing the number of benchmark criteria used in an intervention to at least four increases the chances of achieving positive behavioural outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-89
Number of pages21
JournalHealth Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Intervention
  • Physical activity
  • Social marketing


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