This short quote from a paper by Peattie & Peattie (2003:380) puts it brilliantly:
“…the emphasis in commerce is increasingly on products that we want, but don’t particularly need. Conversely in social marketing, the emphasis is on behaviours that we need, but don’t particularly want.”
Also noteworthy is Peattie & Peattie’s (2003:378) consideration that notwithstanding opposing ideas about if, how and to what extent social marketing borrowed concepts and ideas from conventional marketing, “the question remains as to whether this really matters”. My understanding of their claim is that this issue is a mere formality and of historical rather than practical relevance to the flourishing of the social marketing field.