Systems-thinking social marketing: conceptual extensions and empirical investigations

Christine Domegan, Patricia McHugh, Michelle Devaney, Sinead Duane, Michael Hogan, Benjamin Broome, Roger A. Layton, John Joyce, Marzia Mazzonetto, Joanna Piwowarczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Systems thinking dominated the 2015 World Social Marketing conference with the premise that a more holistic approach takes into account all the issues at play for effective change. Augmenting the broadening social marketing literature, we contend that systems-thinking social marketing enhances the field’s conventional behavioural change with concepts of scale, causation, and iterative co-creating change processes for complex health and environmental problems. The results of our empirical Sea for Society study, a sustainable European marine ecosystem examination of what the barriers to change are and how they are interrelated, find systems-thinking social marketing offers the potential to strategically and critically reinforce, not replace, behavioural change campaigns. With systems-thinking social marketing, a coherent theory of change becomes a possibility. Orchestrating social change may become a reality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1144
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Jul 23 2016


  • Social marketing
  • behaviour change
  • causation
  • scale
  • systems theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing


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