Social Norms Marketing
What are social norms?
Social norms are people’s beliefs about the attitudes and behaviors that are normal, acceptable, or even expected in a particular social context. Often, people’s perception of these norms greatly influence their behavior.
What is social norms marketing?
Social norms marketing is a research-based approach to changing behavior and substance abuse. It has been successfully used in high schools and colleges in Illinois and across the country.
Click here to watch a video that explains social norms marketing by a leading expert in the field, Dr. H. Wesley Perkins.
How does social norms marketing work?
Social norms marketing reinforces positive behavior rather than emphasizing negative, at-risk behavior. This is done through a variety of methods to correct misperceptions and to identify and promote healthy behaviors that are, in fact, the norm.
Why does social norms marketing work?
Most teenagers think that many more of their peers use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs than actually do. Because of this misperception, many youth feel pressured and justified to use these substances. When facts are consistently presented to youth that the clear majority of their peers do not use alcohol, tobacco and drugs, they are more likely to exhibit behavior consistent with the healthy norm and also choose not to use.
Social Norms Marketing Goals
- Increase accurate perceptions among high school students, school staff, and parents about the percentage of students who don't use tobacco and alcohol.
- Increase positive, healthy behaviors and attitudes among high school students.
- Increase non-use of alcohol and tobacco among high school students.
- Increase communication about students’ healthy behaviors by parents and school staff.
Key messages are developed based on results of the Illinois Youth Surveys taken anonymously by over 5,000 high school and middle school students in grades 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. The messages are tested in student focus groups at the three District 207 high schools.
Posters are designed and displayed throughout the high schools. New messages and images appear every 4-6 weeks. Normative messages on the posters reinforce information to students about non-use of alcohol and tobacco.
Information regarding positive and healthy behaviors of students is also distributed to parents, school staff, and community members through posters, flyers, brochures, etc.
is the name of our social norms marketing campaign.
MOST District 207 Students
...drink non-alcoholic beverages when they hang out with friends.
...don’t smoke marijuana.
...choose not to smoke cigarettes.
...believe that smoking cigarettes is harmful.
...prefer to date non-smokers.
Source: High School District 207 Illinois Youth Survey
Results of social norms marketing to address alcohol and tobacco use at Maine Township High Schools show that, according to the Illinois Youth Survey, after the first two years of implementation, trend data has moved in a positive direction.
- Since 2009, 30 day alcohol use decreased 7.6%.
- Tobacco use has decreased by 38% since 2008.
* Northern Illinois University developed the surveys and analyzed the results.
** Source: www.socialnorms.org
Teenagers think everyone is doing it but they're not!
|30 Day Use Rates||Actual1||Percentage of Peers
They Think Use2
1Source: 2010 Illinois Youth Survey, Maine Township High School District 207
(Number surveyed = 5473)
2Source: 2008 Maine Township High School District 207 Student Use & Perception Survey
(Number surveyed =4307)
"Most people don't drink. The people who do are just very open and loud about it, so it seems like more people drink than actually do. This applies to sex, drugs, anything really." R.S., senior, Maine West High School
Talk to the young people in your life about making good decisions not to drink alcohol, smoke, and use drugs. Tell them that engaging in these risky behaviors can jeopardize their health and their future. Encourage them to choose the healthy norm.