Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Management & Marketing

First Advisor

Maurice Murphy


Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland and worldwide. Skin cancer rates have been steadily rising in recent times. The high use of sunbeds in both Ireland and the UK is quite worrisome. Skin cancer is caused by over exposure to UV rays or through the use of sunbeds and as a result it is actually a highly preventable disease. It is estimated that 90-95% of all skin cancers are preventable. This thesis focuses on the use of social marketing in order to educate people on the dangers of skin cancer with the eventual aim of making recommendations to aid in the prevention of skin cancer. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten leading personnel from skin cancer and social marketing fields. All interviewees reached similar conclusions suggesting that one clear understandable message on the Vitamin D controversy is vital, as well as the importance of not only parental role models but role models in general in the gambit of altering faulty sun protective behaviours.

The study showed complete agreement on the dangers of sunbed use especially for adolescents whose bodies have not yet fully developed. All interviewees agreed on the dangers of mixed messaging within skin cancer and other health campaigns where there is a serious danger of campaign literature being completely disregarded due to inconsistent messaging. This necessitates the creation of cross functional campaigns where government agencies work in conjunction with each other and peddle consistent messages to the public.

The findings of this study advocate the creation of one Vitamin D message; this communique should mirror the existing directive from the WHO which states 10-15 minutes normal sun exposure two to three times a week is sufficient in terms of gaining adequate Vitamin D levels. The study also shows the importance of the creation of positive role models regarding behaviour change. Significant efforts must be made in order to succeed in finding suitable role models for each segment or target audience. Segmentation was also identified as a key contributor to successfully reaching each audience effectively; messages must be tailored for each specific audience. The study further argues the importance of working with the government so that the enactment of legislation banning sunbeds can be actualised. The importance of multiple messaging coupled with multifarious sun protective techniques such as the application of sun cream, hats, protective clothing and seeking shade are all viable options. Having a multitude of options is imperative when trying to alter faulty sun protective behaviours.

Access Level