Demand generation increases awareness of, and demand for, health products or services among a particular target audience through social and behavior change communication and social marketing techniques.
What is Demand Generation?
Demand generation increases awareness of and demand for health products or services among a particular intended audience through social and behavior change communication (SBCC) and social marketing techniques. Demand generation can occur in three ways:
- Creating new users - convincing members of the intended audience to adopt new behaviors, products or services;
- Increasing demand among existing users - convincing current users to increase or sustain the practice of the promoted behavior and/or to increase or sustain the use of promoted products and services;
- Taking market share from competing behaviors (e.g. convincing caregivers to seek health care immediately, instead of not seeking care until their health situation has severely deteriorated or has been compromised) and products or services (e.g. convincing caregivers to use oral rehydration solution (ORS) and zinc instead of other anti-diarrhea medicines).
Demand generation programs, when well-designed and implemented, can help countries reach the goal of increased utilization of the commodities by:
- Creating informed and voluntary demand for health commodities and services;
- Helping health care providers and clients interact with each other in an effective manner;
- Shifting social and cultural norms that can influence individual and collective behavior related to commodity uptake; and/or
- Encouraging correct and appropriate use of commodities by individuals and service providers alike.
In order to be most effective, demand generation efforts should be matched with efforts to improve logistics and expand services, increase access to commodities, and train and equip providers in order to meet increased demand for products and/or services. Without these simultaneous improvements, the intended audience may become discouraged and demand could then decrease. Therefore, it is highly advised to coordinate and collaborate with appropriate partners when forming demand generation communication strategies and programs.
Who are the Audiences of Demand Generation Programs for the 13 Life Saving Commodities?
Reducing maternal and child morbidity and mortality through increased demand for and use of RMNCH commodities depends on the collaboration of households, communities, and societies, including mothers, fathers and other family members, community and facility-based health workers, leaders, and policy makers. Some of the commodities are more provider-focused in terms of demand and utilization, but all depend on care-seeking by women and families.
Key Concepts and Definitions in Demand Generation
Behavior Change Theories
Why is theory important to demand generation?
Increasing evidence suggests that demand generation interventions that are based on social and behavioral science theories are more effective than those without a theoretical base, especially when multiple theories and concepts are considered. A strong theory can help design, implement and evaluate effective programs by providing an understanding of the influencing factors on behavior, the way in which behavior change occurs and potential entry points for behavior change interventions.
The key to using theory effectively is to identify one that seems to fit with the initial understanding of what currently influences behavior and social norms and to use that theory to explore in more detail the impetus for change.
A few of the theories and frameworks most often used in social and behavior change communication programming include:
- Relative advantage – Does the new behavior offer any advantage over the current behavior?
- Compatibility – Is the new behavior compatible with current behaviors, beliefs, and values?
- Complexity – How difficult is the new behavior to perform?
- Trialability – Can it be tried without too much risk before making a decision?
- Observability – Are there opportunities to see what happens to others who adopt this behavior?
For more information on theories used for social and behavior change communication refer to the additional resources provided.
 Glanz, K. & Bishop, D. (2010) . The Role of Behavioral Science Theory in Development and Implementation of Public Health Interventions. Annual Review of Public Health, 30:399-418. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103604.