Counter-marketing is a form of marketing that works to counteract certain types of marketing and advertising campaigns. This type of marketing is usually used when the campaign in question hurts the public, either through its message, product being promoted or image portrayed.
Many of us have been confronted daily with counter-marketing strategies and probably had no idea about this concept. Counter-marketing involves advertising techniques that try to reduce the demand for a product being used. The commercial marketing tactics used in counter-marketing typically use negative messages to stop people from using a product.
These campaigns are usually aimed at increasing pro-health messages and countering pro-substance influences. Counter-marketing can be a useful tool for public health and health promotion initiatives, as it enables advocates to target specific messages, products, and behaviors that can result in positive health outcomes.
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Examples of Counter-Marketing Campaigns
Let me explain counter-marketing easily with the help of a few examples-
1) Cigarette packets counter-marketing attempts
Let us assume that you are used to smoking regularly. Most of the time, whenever you buy a package of cigarettes you can notice warnings on the package against cigarette consumption. This warning mentions the effects that smoking has on the body such as pulmonary cancer, skin aging, death, etc. Similarly, when you are traveling through roadways or railways, you might come across big billboards explaining the hazards and negative effects of smoking. All these pro-health messages are directed at quitting smoking and ensuring health promotion. In some cases, these ads also provide telephone numbers or solutions to your smoking problem with places where you can call in case you want to quit smoking. These counter-marketing efforts are used to reduce smoking prevalence, and channel smoking cessation.
This advertising technique is what is called counter-marketing.
2) Tobacco counter-marketing campaign
The tobacco example is one of the most popular counter-marketing tactics used globally. The tobacco example is one of the most popular counter-marketing tactics used globally. Tobacco companies use counter-marketing campaigns to provide education to consumers about tobacco control. Most of the tobacco advertising campaigns focus on warning messages about the health risks associated with smoking. All in all, the tobacco industry’s marketing strategies aim to create awareness about the serious health risks associated with tobacco use.
However, in the same category, we can also include alcohol consumption, high-fat fast foods, and sugar sodas. If we were to analyze a bit, I believe that we could also include the drug industry in the same category, based on the fact that more and more often, the use of pills is avoided for treatment of some symptoms, when these pills can easily be replaced by natural remedies.
Each country sees one election for the presidency every year or once in four years. These elections may be for the presidency, ministries, local governors, etc. Whenever the election period gets close, you are overwhelmed by a multitude of negative advertisements pointing toward the potential candidates, each one trying to overcome his opponent by spreading negative messages about him. This could be another example of counter-marketing techniques, in which political advertising targeted towards supporters of the opposite candidate uses it to reduce demand for that candidate.
To give a more business-based explanation, the counter-marketing tactic can be defined as an advertising strategy that takes a position contrary to an advertising message that preceded it. The purpose lies in permanently reducing demand for a product or service due to various reasons.
The frequency and concentration of counter-marketing tactics directly affect the business done by the product in the market. It may affect negatively the product itself and in the end, the product might be shunned by society or by the market altogether.
The counter-marketing strategy puts in close perspective explanations of the danger related to the use of a specific product/service. It communicates the social costs and it can use multiple voices and strategies. Generally, this strategy should work together with other tactics to alter social norms.
We are daily faced with strategies that are part of counter-marketing strategies such as excise taxes, taxes on exports, import taxes, or distribution restrictions.
Often used to take an opposing position on a controversial topic or to counter an impression that might be made by another party’s advertising, the counter-marketing strategy tends to introduce brand substitution. Therefore, the brand is an important key in connection to the effectiveness of such a tactic. If the brand is strong against which counter-marketing tactics are being used, then the brand-customer relationship becomes more resistant under this tactic.
Finally, to be effective, the counter-marketing programs must be evaluated and have explicit goals coupled with performance measures, while aspects such as time, money, and political context are important variables for the performance of the strategy.
Popular Counter-marketing Strategies in 2023
- Graphic Pack Warnings: Graphic Pack Warnings act as a powerful counter-marketing strategy, leveraging striking and disturbing images to convey the harmful effects of products such as tobacco. These images, often accompanied by explicit warnings, are designed to counter pro-substance influences and deter potential consumers, highlight the reality of the harm caused by the product, and spur users to consider cessation.
- Warnings on Tobacco Depictions in Media: Warnings on tobacco depictions in media form an essential part of counter-marketing, aiming to dispel the glamorized image of tobacco use often portrayed in movies, television, and online media. By incorporating clear, bold warnings alongside these depictions, the industry can counteract the potentially harmful influences of such portrayals.
- Plain Packaging: Plain packaging is a counter-marketing strategy that removes the allure of the product packaging design. It standardizes the appearance of product packs, removing logos, colors, and images, and leaving only the brand name in a mandated size, font, and position. This strategy has been particularly successful in the tobacco industry, making cigarette packs less attractive, especially to young people.
- Population-level Media Campaigns: Population-level media campaigns are broad-reaching counter-marketing initiatives that target a large segment of the population, often on a national or regional level. These campaigns leverage various media channels to increase pro-health messages typically emphasizing the harmful effects of a product or behavior. They aim to change public perceptions and behaviors and often support other counter-marketing strategies, such as graphic pack warnings and plain packaging.
Q. What is the main goal of counter-marketing?
It primarily aims to discourage the consumption of harmful products or behaviors by highlighting their negative impacts. It uses strategies like graphic warnings, plain packaging, and population-level media campaigns.
Q. What is an example of counter-marketing?
A common example of counter-marketing is the use of graphic warnings on cigarette packs. Such warnings serve to discourage smoking by showing images and text detailing the potential health risks associated with tobacco products.
Q. What is tobacco counter-marketing?
Tobacco counter-marketing is a strategic approach designed to curb the use of tobacco products. It leverages various tactics, such as graphic warnings, plain packaging, and large-scale media campaigns, to highlight the health risks associated with smoking, thereby influencing people’s perceptions and behaviors toward tobacco consumption.
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