Open Access Open Badges Research

Qualitative developmental research among low income African American adults to inform a social marketing campaign for walking

Dawn K Wilson1*, Sara M St George1, Nevelyn N Trumpeter1, Sandra M Coulon1, Sarah F Griffin2, Abe Wandersman1, Melinda Forthofer3, Barney Gadson4 and Porschia V Brown1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, 29208, USA

2 Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Heath, Education, and Human Development, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, 29634, USA

3 Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, 29208, USA

4 M.H. Newton Family Life Enrichment Center, Sumter, SC, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:33  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-33

Published: 5 March 2013



This study describes the development of a social marketing campaign for increasing walking in a low income, high crime community as part of the Positive Action for Today’s Health (PATH) trial.


Focus groups were conducted with 52 African American adults (ages 18 to 65 yrs), from two underserved communities to develop themes for a social marketing campaign to promote walking. Participants responded to questions concerning social marketing principles related to product, price, place, promotion, and positioning for increasing neighbourhood walking.


Focus group data informed the development of the campaign objectives that were derived from the “5 Ps” to promote physical and mental health, social connectedness, safety, and confidence in walking regularly. Focus group themes indicated that physical and mental health benefits of walking were important motivators. Walking for social reasons was also important for overcoming barriers to walking. Police support from trusted officers while walking was also essential to promoting safety for walking. Print materials were developed by the steering committee, with a 12-month calendar and door hangers delivered to residents’ homes to invite them to walk. Pride Stride walks empowered community walkers to serve as peer leaders for special walking events to engage new walkers.


Essential elements for developing culturally tailored social marketing interventions for promoting walking in underserved communities are outlined for future researchers.

Social marketing; African American; Walking; Physical activity; Health promotion