We are the Institute for Consumer and Social Well-being (ICSW), a research team seeking to advance the well-being of consumers and society. Our work is focused on social change marketing, social responsibility/sustainability and not-for-profit marketing.
We will be the premier Canadian institute for generating and disseminating knowledge regarding social marketing, nonprofit marketing, sustainability and social responsibility.
What we do
We conduct research and teach classes on topics of social change, conduct community training seminars, and host an international social change marketing conference (the SMART Conference).
Our research touches on many different consumer and social well-being issues, including workplace safety, water use, recycling, volunteering, and company/NPO partnerships.
University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Campus
To create and share knowledge through our research, to educate students, to benefit consumers and to empower nonprofit personnel in the areas of social marketing, nonprofit marketing and management, and social and environmental sustainability.
Social Marketing applies the principles of commercial marketing to encourage individuals to voluntarily change their behavior to benefit themselves and society.
Social responsibility and sustainability
Business, government, and individuals must work together harmoniously for the long-term welfare of society.
We conduct research to help nonprofit organizations navigate their challenges, and we bring this research to nonprofits through training seminars, conferences, articles, and books.
The Institute for Consumer and Social Well-being (ICSW), formerly the Centre for Socially Responsible Marketing, was established in 2001. It began as the dream of three University of Lethbridge marketing professors, who focused their efforts on issues relevant to social well-being. Since then, new colleagues with a shared interest in these issues have joined the ICSW.
Social Marketing applies the principles of commercial marketing to encourage individuals to voluntarily change their behaviour to benefit themselves and society. Societal campaigns, such as “don’t text and drive” or “needle safety” all too often rely on high levels of fear and simply telling people of their high risk, assuming this will be enough to encourage people to change their behaviour. Social Marketing recognizes that education and fear do not change behaviour. Barriers to the desired behaviour must be identified and removed, and incentives for the desired behaviour must be offered.
Our social marketing research creates new knowledge addressing how best to encourage voluntary behaviour change by conducting primary research in areas of great importance to society. Specific examples of our work include research regarding workplace safety for young men in high injury industries, how to increase recycling behaviour, and AIDS prevention.
Our social marketing research has helped government and nonprofit organizations improve the effectiveness of their campaigns. Examples include improving fear appeals for workplace safety, helping organizations define the role of communication in social marketing campaigns, and developing new offerings to reduce the incidence of driving after drinking.
We have published dozens of articles in both academic and practitioner journals, as well as books and book chapters on the topic of social marketing. We share knowledge with nonprofit, nongovernmental and governmental organizations through training seminars, conferences and workshops. We share knowledge with students through our Master of Science program, wherein students conduct original research in the field of social marketing and through undergraduate classes such as Social Marketing, Non-profit Marketing, and Marketing & Society. We share knowledge with the academic community through our periodic Social Marketing Advances in Research and Theory (SMART) conference, a well-known and well-respected conference bringing together social marketing researchers from around the world.
Business, government, and individuals must work together harmoniously for the long-term welfare of society. When this triadic relationship is out of balance, society suffers. Companies must be allowed to provide products and services to individuals and other companies at a profit to their shareholders, but their efforts must minimize harmful impacts on communities, workers and the environment.
We conduct research relating to corporate social responsibility, company-nonprofit partnerships, and company operations that benefit the environment. We have received major government grants to research water management and use issues, cause-related marketing (a company/non-profit marketing alliance) and company support for employee volunteerism. We have examined diverse issues in the realm of social and environmental sustainability, such as how to encourage hotel guests to reduce their towel usage and thus reduce water use, how to encourage individuals to bring reusable bags when grocery shopping, and how companies and nonprofits can effectively partner to benefit both.
We seek to make our research accessible and actionable. For example, our research on company support for volunteerism has helped both companies and nonprofits to understand what can be gained from such efforts, and what the risks are as well. In this case, we shared our research with the community by way of a collaborative seminar, bringing together companies and nonprofits for the benefit of both.
Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) face unique challenges, including shrinking budgets, donor fatigue, a proliferation of competing organizations, and increased donor skepticism. We conduct research to help nonprofit organizations navigate these troubled waters, and we bring this research to nonprofits through training seminars, conferences, articles, and books.
We have conducted numerous community workshops in the past three years, helping NPOs address their unique challenges. Some of the seminars we have conducted include “Creating Connections”, helping nonprofits to establish rewarding partnerships with companies, and “Encouraging Corporate Volunteerism”, helping nonprofits understand what motivates companies to offer their employees as volunteers, and how their organizations can position themselves to gain this benefit.
We address nonprofit needs through publication as well. We have conducted dozens of studies that resulted in actionable articles on nonprofit issues. Additionally, our research has resulted in one of the field’s most important textbooks on nonprofit marketing as well as a book providing valuable guidance on internet marketing for nonprofit organizations.
Our current research regarding the impact of company/nonprofit marketing alliances on nonprofit organizations has already proven useful to nonprofits seeking to understand what they can and cannot expect to gain from such alliances. Community focus groups gave local nonprofits the opportunity to discuss their alliances, exploring both the positive and negative outcomes. Our research seeks to benefit nonprofits as they turn to companies for support in the face of increasingly scarce funding.
These objectives are accomplished through a variety of avenues, including conferences, community workshops, internal research support and invited speakers.