Sustainable marketing is no longer just one of the marketing strategies you can adopt in your company, but a mandatory part of the agenda. The consumers’ environmental awareness and their social concern are growing, and so is the competition. If you want your company to succeed, you need to put sustainable marketing on your list of priorities. Read on to find out more.
Sustainable marketing – table of contents:
- What is sustainable development?
- What is sustainable marketing?
- Marketing transformation
- Is sustainable development important to consumers?
- How to implement sustainable marketing?
- Not just a buzzword
- Examples of sustainable marketing
What is sustainable development?
Balance and development. Until now, these two concepts have been somewhat at odds with each other, especially when it comes to marketing. Companies want to work their way up, grow at all costs and tick more and more items off their bucket list. Why, then, there has been so much talk about sustainable development recently? Is it just a fad or a new way to operate that is somewhat reversing how organizations function?
Now, in this whole rat race, it is not only the here and now that counts, but also what the future holds. This is a change from the carefree approach that was merely about using the planet’s resources, without thinking about what future generations will do. Now it’s time for reflection and a rational approach to development that doesn’t compromise the needs of future generations.
Acting for the benefit of the future requires long-term planning, and it’s certainly not a change that comes at the snap of a finger. And that’s not the point at all. Many large companies operate this way.
As an example, take the Danish company LEGO, whose CEO Niels B. Christiansen, at a conference, outlined a long-term strategy they are currently working on. The idea is to source raw materials for the production of bricks in a responsible manner. The organization wants to carry out this plan by 2030, and they announced it back in 2018. This means that they have given themselves 12 years to implement it.
This example shows that a change does not have to be drastic and immediate. The company produces bricks made of plastic and does not intend to give it up. It just wants to become more conscious of its use and ensure the quality of its products so that they will last for years.
What is sustainable marketing?
If we were to give one word that would best describe the motto of sustainable marketing, it would be “responsibility”.
Sustainable marketing is a relatively new concept in marketing and business, which is strictly connected with sustainable development. After all, marketing must follow and even anticipate new trends. Nowadays, it is social responsibility that is considered a brand value. It should also be kept in mind that the main goal of marketing is to increase profit. So how to combine these two, relatively extreme values?
Sustainable marketing is about skillfully designing the entire marketing process so that it is:
- Satisfying to customers and meeting their needs,
- A way to achieve the company’s goals,
- Compatible with the needs of the ecosystem.
The question of sustainability in relation to marketing is not only hard work, but also an opportunity for the organization. It is an added value that is especially important to the customer and can be the foundation for building a lasting relationship. As a result, it can benefit both the company, society and the environment.
This novel approach requires new practices and tools. The 4Ps of marketing (product, price, place, promotion) don’t seem to meet today’s needs. Therefore, the model has been modified and we now have the 4Cs of digital marketing (customer solution, customer cost, convenience, communication).
This change best demonstrates that marketing is no longer considered solely in terms of profit and growth. It is a tool for managing the relationship between the organization and consumers. It becomes a kind of bridge whose main task is to build valuable relationships.
Is sustainable development important to consumers?
According to research, new generations of shoppers have become more rational and are carefully reviewing their needs. They are willing to pay more for brands whose mission and vision coincide with their worldview and values. Not only the environment is important, but also ethics or the use of sustainable practices.
How to implement sustainable marketing?
As you already know, sustainable marketing is not a choice, but a necessity today. So how to put this strategy into practice and where to start? Below, we’ve outlined some guidelines to help you implement it in the workplace.
Help a good cause
Here we want to emphasize that sustainable marketing is not at odds with generating revenue at all. It is more about introducing an additional criterion and promoting a good cause. It is up to you what that mission will be. However, make sure it is in line with your brand strategy.
Put your clients first
The customer has always played an important role in marketing, but consumer-oriented marketing is about following the customers’ needs and adjusting your strategies accordingly.
Sustainable marketing does not bring benefits right away. Here you need to be persistent and consistent. When using sustainable marketing, you have to forget about an immediate ROI.
Not just a buzzword
Being transparent is as important as the company’s mission and vision in line with sustainable development. Customer relations can’t be based on a lie. Some brands, however, engage in “greenwashing,” that is, they deceive customers into believing that they care about the environment. In fact, it is just an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally sound products.
Examples of sustainable marketing
Here we could present many companies that embrace sustainability. Not only due to the fact that they understand the problem, but also because they want to promote a positive brand image. Huge campaigns such as “we’ll plant 1,000 trees” or “exchange electro-waste for seedlings” are interesting examples.
Another example may be Patagonia, an American retailer of outdoor clothing. The company has been involved in environmental protection for years. Of course, this is a well-established company with a stable financial situation. Not every brand can afford to do this, but we must admit that such a pro-environmental attitude, especially in the clothing industry, is quite rare.
In 2018, the company launched an online second hand, and some time later the CEO himself admitted that pursuing the shareholders’ interests was not the main goal of the brand, and deliberately halted its growth. However, this did not mean stopping production, as this would have prevented the company from acquiring resources to further help the planet.
In 2022, the brand’s founder went a step further. He announced that he would be giving away his company, which is worth $3 billion, to two organizations: Patagonia Purpose Trust and Holdfast Collective.
The second one is a nonprofit organization that helps solve the climate crisis. Interestingly, 98% of the profits are to go there, i.e. everything that won’t be reinvested in the brand. This is not just an empty promise, but a real revolution and a completely innovative approach.
Changing the approach is necessary, but not always easy. The best strategy is to take small steps, even if at first individual actions seem insignificant in global terms. Self-education and a thorough understanding of sustainability are also important.
If you want to follow the trends, you need to ensure that your brand is associated with environmental and social activism. These issues are very important nowadays when it comes to customers’ purchasing decisions, which is why it’s worth fighting for your position and standing out from the competition.Remember, however, that it’s not all about trendy slogans or buzzwords. It’s about changing your approach and being actively engaged.