What is sustainable marketing?

Written by Laura Brown
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What is sustainable marketing?

Sustainability is a popular word these days. You’d be forgiven if you think it just means being eco friendly by recycling and turning off lights, but it is so much more. It links economy, environment, and humankind – more commonly known as the three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit.

Business growth creates a unlevel playing field

The concept of sustainability is not a new woke word. Almost 40 years ago, the 1987 Brundtland Report (“Our Common Future”) by the World Commission on Environment and Development identified the connection between sustainable business practices and sustainable development for future generations.

…an economy is sustainable if it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs

Current rates of economic growth and consumption are unsustainable as the planet has limited resources to deliver growth and profit to company shareholders year on year.  In fact, we would need 1.5 planet Earths to support the current rate of consumption, and the exponential wealth hasn’t trickled down. Almost half of the world’s wealth is owned by just 1% of the population.

The business world must consider the environmental and social impacts it has and seek sustainable business practices to ensure future generations can thrive.

The business case for ethical capitalism

Consumer behaviour is changing as Millennials and Gen Z prefer to spend more on brands that prioritise sustainability and ethics. They are reported to prefer shopping at small and local businesses that support the local economy.  The younger generations are conscious about the impact of their consumerism.

This mindful consumerism influences the success of purpose led organisations, one study found sustainable brands grew at 91% over three year period, compared to 15% average company growth.

Sustainable marketing explained

The purpose of marketing is to generate profit by satisfying customer needs, which promotes consumerism. So how can marketing support sustainability?

As marketing is all about communication, it can influence:

  • internal and external stakeholders
  • consumer behaviour to more sustainable consumption patterns

Sustainable marketing can be defined as the practice of promoting products, services, and brands that embrace sustainable principles, minimise negative environmental impacts, and contribute to social well-being. It involves integrating sustainability into all aspects of marketing, from product development and sourcing to distribution, communication, and customer engagement.

The 3 Benefits of Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing serves as a powerful vehicle for businesses to align their marketing strategies with ethical and environmental considerations. By integrating sustainability into all aspects of their operations, organisations can not only drive positive change but also reap the benefits of a responsible and environmentally conscious business model. As consumers continue to seek out sustainable products and services, sustainable marketing will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of responsible business practices.

  • Competitive Advantage: Embracing sustainability can give businesses a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace. As consumers increasingly choose ethical and sustainable products, brands that demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainability are more likely to attract and retain customers.

  • Enhanced Brand Reputation: Sustainable marketing helps build a positive brand image by showcasing a company’s dedication to environmental and social responsibility. This can lead to increased trust, loyalty, and advocacy among consumers, as well as improved relationships with stakeholders, including investors and employees.

  • Cost Savings: Sustainable practices often result in cost savings for businesses in the long run. For instance, energy-efficient processes can reduce operational expenses, while waste reduction and recycling initiatives can reduce disposal costs. Sustainable marketing not only benefits the planet but also contributes to the financial well-being of organisations.

The challenges

While sustainable marketing offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges. Adapting to sustainable practices may require significant investments, changes in operational processes, and a shift in consumer perceptions. However, the long-term rewards and positive impact on the environment make these challenges worth overcoming.

Sustainable marketing is poised to gain further popularity as consumers become more aware and demanding of responsible business practices. Organisations that prioritise sustainability in their marketing efforts will be better equipped to navigate changing market dynamics, enhance their reputations, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Practise what you preach

It isn’t enough for organisations to say they prioritise sustainability, they will have to do the do by demonstrating their sustainability practices. Achieving B Corp status is one way to evidence your commitment to people, planet and profit. B Corps strive for an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.

Businesses can embed giving into every business activities via the micro-give platform B1G1. B1G1 donates to vetted charities and causes across the globe, making it easy for business leaders to align giving with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

These credentials are essential in today’s world, where consumers and stakeholders increasingly call for environmental and social responsibility. There are many more initiatives out there, find the ones that align more naturally to your business.

3 advantages of  having sustainability credentials

  1. Environmental Stewardship: Sustainability credentials showcase your company’s efforts to minimise its environmental impact. This includes adopting eco-friendly practices such as reducing carbon emissions, conserving resources, implementing recycling programs, and promoting renewable energy sources. Demonstrating a commitment to environmental stewardship not only helps mitigate climate change and protect natural resources, but also appeals to environmentally conscious consumers.
  2. Social Responsibility: Sustainability credentials encompass your business’ efforts to address social issues and contribute positively to society. This can involve initiatives like fair labour practices, promoting diversity and inclusion, supporting local communities, and engaging in philanthropic activities. By showcasing their commitment to social responsibility, businesses can enhance their reputation, attract socially conscious consumers, and foster positive relationships with stakeholders.
  3. Long-term Viability: Embracing sustainability credentials is crucial for ensuring the long-term viability of your business. By integrating sustainable practices into their operations, companies can reduce operational costs, enhance efficiency, and mitigate risks associated with environmental and social challenges. Additionally, sustainability credentials can attract investors who prioritise companies with robust environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, contributing to long-term financial stability.

If you want to grow your business as a force for good, then give Brevity a call to see how sustainable marketing can help. Call us on 01256 536 000 or email hello@brevity.marketing