Social Marketing of Anti-Drug Messages: Keeping the Parental Distribution Channel Open
Social marketing campaigns targeting parents of young people encourage parents to act as a social marketing distribution channel, providing messages about drug use to their children. For parents to be effective distribution channels they must be seen as a credible source of information on drug issues. Eight focus groups were conducted with male and female groups (18-24 years old) in four user levels: non-user, light-user, regular users, ex-user. Non-users reported open communication with parents and saw them as having high source credibility. However, users did not appear to have open communication channels with their parents, and source credibility was low. This paper suggests that reduced communication between users and their parents is, in part, a consequence of the child’s decision to use marijuana, and that asking parents to act as a distribution channel for prohibitive messages could be damaging family connectedness where marijuana use does occur. Damaging family connectedness increases young people’s exposure to a range of harmful behaviours (Resnick, et al., 1997). Given the failure of drug policies to dissuade the majority of young people from trying marijuana, this paper recommends that social marketing strategies focus on reinforcing family connectedness, regardless of drug use behaviour.