EUPHAEUPHA Preconference on Child injury prevention

Julie Huibregtsen, one of the ESMA Board Members has presented on social marketing and child safety at the 8th European Public Health Conference (EUPHA), 14-17 October 2015, Milan, Italy. The seminar is part of the European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion (EuroSafe)¹ series of annual European Injury Seminars in collaboration with EUPHA.

“As I had been working together with the Dutch Safety alliance Veiligheid NL, I was asked to introduce social marketing as a method for child injury prevention. The field is facing the challenge of changing the behaviour of children, their parents and teachers. Social marketing is quit new to the field.

What I generally shared with the audience is that social marketing in practice searches for deep insights of the target audience in order to influence their behaviour in a positive way. Social marketing aims to gain in-depth knowledge of the motivation and (perceived) barriers of the target audience, to observe and encourage participation. This requires using true curiosity as a professional skill, and the desire to understand why people resist to safety messages. Building on these insights social marketing designs an approach to influence their behaviour. All these features will make the final intervention more consumer-based and therefore more sensitive to the needs and desires of the target audience. This brings working on a client friendly basis or demand-driven to a higher level. Social marketing emphasises the importance of  audience insight and motivation as some of the most important success factors in changing one’s behaviour. This is always hand in hand with the professional knowledge and experience you bring in.

When talking about social marketing and safety, there are important lessons to learn from the campaign to promote child safety seats in Texas, USA. The campaign highlighted the role of perception and self-efficacy of parents and their children in relation to safety behaviour. For twenty years governmental campaigns had failed to succeed in encouraging the local Hispanic community to start using child safety seats. They used to transport their young children in their arms and no restraints were used. Why not? Social marketers found that cultural norms were the most important barriers to using safety seats. The target audience believed that ‘God decides about their child, not parents or civil servants’. Therefore holding the child in their arms was considered the safest place, not a plastic chair. In order to address these norms, social marketers involved religious leader and priests who even blessed the car seats. The campaign contributed to significant behaviour change and now the Hispanic community is one of the most enthusiastic users of child safety seats.

How marketing principles can broaden and deepen a child injury prevention approach interested and intrigued the participants of this preconference. It’ll be interesting to see how this can be applied in practice in this field.”

¹The European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion (EuroSafe) is a non-governmental organisation, representing organisations and individuals working in fields of injury prevention and safety promotion. EuroSafe is the lead  organisation for the exchange of good practices in injury research and prevention in Europe through its networking programmes,  publications and the series of annual European Injury Seminars. EuroSafe works in partnerships with the World Health Organisation‘s programme for violence and injury prevention and disability.

by Julie Huibregtsen, MSc

Founder Socialemarketing