Marketing Bullying Prevention: A Case for Segmenting by Unmet Needs

Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Place of Publication



Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure




Brown, D. E., Henley, N. R., Donovan, R., & Cross, D. S. (2005). Marketing bullying prevention: A case for segmenting by unmet needs. Proceedings of Australia & New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference. Fremantle, Australia. UWA. Conference website available here.


This paper reports an action research finding that was identified through the process evaluation of a social marketing anti-bullying intervention, the Mandurah Bullying Prevention Project (MBPP): early consideration of market segmentation by ‘unmet needs’ is advisable when designing social marketing campaigns that focus on highly sensitive issues, such as bullying. The MBPP campaign was designed to appeal directly to parents of young children. Early parenting strategies were recommended that can help to create a home environment in which children are less likely to adopt bullying behaviour, and more likely to be able to cope with experiences of bullying in later life. We anticipated that parents of older children might take out the message that they were to blame if their child was bullying others, or severely affected by being bullied. Pretesting showed that the message content was not likely to evoke this response from the target audience. The campaign ran in two phases. Ongoing monitoring of Phase 1 indicated that the response was positive and there was raised salience and discussion in the community about bullying prevention and the negative long term consequences of bullying. Additional feedback indicated that the campaign may have exacerbated frustration in a group of parents whose children were currently suffering from bullying in the local high schools. These parents perceived that school and community solutions for bullying were inadequate and their complaints were being ignored. The MBPP researchers responded to the unmet needs of this unintended target market with a number of timely strategies that successfully averted potential damage to the main objectives of the campaign.