What is Sustainable Marketing and Why is It Important in 2024

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Priya Naha

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green tickReading Time: 11 Minutes
green tickPublished : September 7, 2022

Summary: Sustainable marketing is the promotion of socially responsible products, environmental practices, and brand values. Adopting sustainable marketing is one of the most effective business strategies. Sustainability marketing works on the present and focuses on future generations. Read our guide to learn more about sustainable marketing and its importance.

“Looking at the world through a sustainability lens not only helps us future proof our supply chain, it also fuels innovation and drives brand growth.”

-Paul Polman

Today, the world needs us. The mess of pollution has already been made. But we can’t let that happen anymore. We need to act today! 

One such way to bring a change is to swap the polluting market scenario by practicing sustainable marketing. And companies have taken this seriously. Experts estimate that the sustainability market will reach $74.64 billion, growing at a CAGR of 21.9% from 2021 to 2030.

But before you practice sustainable marketing, this blog will help you understand sustainability marketing, its principles, and its importance. You’ll also learn about some top-notch companies that focus on market sustainability.

What is Sustainable Marketing?

What is Sustainable MarketingSource

Sustainable marketing is the promotion of socially responsible products and environmental practices, and brand values. Sustainable initiatives aim to promote a mission, not a service or product

Though used interchangeably, green marketing and sustainable marketing concepts are different. While green marketing focuses on strategies to promote environmental protection and awareness, sustainability marketing goes beyond the environment and incorporates economic and social issues. 

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Why is Sustainable Marketing Important?

Sustainable marketing is crucial because it promotes the core strengths your business and stakeholders value, like human health, environmental wellness, resource security, social equity, fair trade, and others. 

For any business, three functions are the crucial factors to success:

  1. Operations
  2. Marketing
  3. Finance

And market sustainability is the key to success for any company as it encompasses activities that generate revenue. The sustainable solutions communicate your commitment to sustainability to your customers, employees, and business partners.

By now, you know what is sustainable marketing! And to adopt a market sustainability strategy, companies need to take baby steps.

By looking at multiple examples of sustainable marketing, digital marketing and other companies can develop products with low environmental impact, advocate a healthy work-life balance for employees, and support local community groups and others.

By taking inspiration from sustainable marketing examples, your company’s advertising can stand out in a market dominated by the traditional monotonous style of marketing.

Sustainability marketing is essential because by engaging in market sustainability, your business will gain customers’ trust and, in turn, their loyalty. And a loyal C base is one of the biggest competitive advantages.

Evolution of Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing has evolved considerably. The evolution caught heat in the later part of the 20th century when awareness of the environmental and social aspects was rising. At that time, the aim was to innovate business operations to emit less waste and pollution.

With time consumers started demanding environmentally friendly products, and to fulfill those demands, companies adopted sustainability-induced manufacturing and packaging processes. Ultimately eco-labels and quality certifications were introduced that assist consumers in decision-making when purchasing a product.

Nowadays, the ambit of sustainable marketing has broadened extensively. Apart from the environment, companies also acknowledge the social and economical factors. This approach led the companies to elevate engagement with consumers and stakeholders, considering environmental and social challenges and developing innovative sustainable products in consonance with those challenges.

Digitalization has played a vital role in making this endeavor a success. As companies using social media and other online platforms for marketing showcase their initiatives toward developing sustainable products. On these grounds, they connect effectively with their consumers.

Hence sustainable marketing has extremely evolved, and it is constantly evolving as the trends are continuously changing, and day by day, awareness among people regarding these environmental and social challenges is increasing.

Top 4 Sustainable Marketing Strategies

The core sustainable marketing strategies include:

  1. Place value ahead of profit
  2. Have a larger purpose
  3. Be consumer-oriented
  4. Reflect sustainability in your brand

1. Place Value Ahead of Profit 

Place Value Ahead of ProfitSource

The long-term value is what sustainability marketing aims to achieve! Unfortunately, many times, brands focus on achieving immediate returns. For example, sustainable marketing strategies like blogging and Google ads are great lead generators. But what’ll happen after your lead makes a purchase and becomes your customer? How will you make them your loyal customers?

Sustainability marketing looks at ways to nurture customers throughout the buyer’s journey. Education is one primary way to build loyalty with your audience at the beginning. So, as examples of sustainable marketing work, let’s understand it.

If you are a food brand, you can educate your audience about the importance of ethical farming on social media and continue the process with package recycling tips post-purchase.  So, placing value ahead of profit is one practical, sustainable marketing strategy.

2. Have a Larger Purpose

Have a Larger PurposeSource

Every company judges its success by the numbers. The amount of revenue they have or they’ll generate in the given period is usually the most crucial indicator of success. 

But, sustainability marketing shifts such a perspective by making companies and brands reevaluate themselves by something bigger than profit. As a brand, you must promote something bigger than your services and products and transcend any specific industry.

Do you have a social mission? If not, discover the mission and see how your brand plays a role in furthering and broadening the mission. Let’s understand this with one of the finest sustainable marketing examples. 

A fashion brand that sells accessories, clothing, and home décor items stated its mission on its website. Its mission is to impact women’s lives globally. And, living up to the mission, the company has female-owned production facilities and employs female artisans, among numerous other things.  Having a larger purpose is one effective, sustainable marketing strategy.

3. Be Customer-Oriented 

Be Customer OrientedSource

Being customer-oriented is always a yes in marketing and one best example of marketing sustainable practices. In typical marketing, a brand pushes customers towards a product or service. But, customer-oriented marketing is about understanding customers’ needs and tailoring your marketing to that.

For example, imagine your audience craves more transparency in your sourcing practices or wants you to be more vocal on specific social issues. Then, your company can use the information as your business strategy for the next campaign. 

Staying customer-oriented is the best option to stand amidst a sea of competitors! Innovations can be done with tiny steps-the key is to keep in touch with the audience’s needs. 

4. Reflect Sustainability in Your Brand

Reflect Sustainability in your BrandSource

Sustainability marketing will only work if it is genuine. If you are preaching about sustainability and using unsustainable practices to build and promote your brand, customers will distrust it, and it’ll be challenging to regain trust.

Ask the following questions and determine if your brand reflects the mission you want to achieve:

  1. Do you collaborate with brands that contradict your mission?
  2. Is your team representative of the future you want to promote?

Companies must identify the areas they need to focus on and figure out sustainable marketing campaigns that align with their mission.

Your target audience will value transparency, not perfection. So it’s okay to understand where you fall short and how you plan to remedy such problems. 

How to implement your sustainable marketing strategies?

Preparing an effective marketing strategy is vital for an organization, but ensuring its effective implementation is equally important because multiple aspects must be considered before implementing those strategies.

Let’s have an understanding of those aspects.

1. Keep Focus on the Bigger Picture

Generally, the majority of businesses around the world measure their success on the basis of numbers accumulated. What was the revenue for this financial year? How much profitability is achievable in the next quarter? This is all the businesses are concerned about.

A shift of perspective is gained by adopting sustainable marketing as the brands focus on environmental and social aspects other than profits. As a brand, you must market something larger than your products and services. While marketing your products or services, you must induce a social or environmental aspect that concerns a larger audience and will increase engagement and amplify your brand awareness. Whether they want to buy the product or not.

2. Be Innovative

Marketing trends are changing at warp speed. Every day there is a new marketing trend, so as a brand, constant innovations must be brought to expand the brand’s reach to existing and potential customers.

With the marketing of products and services, the sustainability initiative conducted by your brand is also to be conveyed in a crisp and apt manner. No one will spend more time reading large captions or posts.

So along with products and services, engaging and captivating wordplay or captions can be used to allure as many potential customers as possible. Here’s an example of a brand reminding people about climate change by posting on a social media platform:

Sustainable Marketing. source

3. Be Customer Oriented

Customers are the target audience of every brand, and all the brand work towards keeping the customers engaged with the brands as the competition is fierce. So in every post or any marketing campaign, the first priority of every brand is how to allure a maximum number of people and build a strong clientele.

In this age of digitalization, brands have to clearly understand what the customers want and not just want but what they want like to see, what they like to hear, the trending music, and trending color each and every minute detail have to be considered. 

Considering all these aspects will make them feel valued, which will prove successful for the brand.

Hence, these are some of the aspects to be kept in mind while implementing your sustainable marketing strategies to ensure the marketing campaign’s success and exponentially increase brand awareness and reputation.

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5 Principles of Sustainable Marketing

The 5 Key principles of sustainable marketing are:

  1. Consumer Oriented Marketing
  2. Customer Value Marketing
  3. Innovative Marketing
  4. Sense of Mission Marketing
  5. Societal Marketing

1. Consumer Oriented Marketing 

What is Consumer Oriented Marketing?Source

Consumer oriented marketing is one of the sustainable marketing key principle where a company or organization views its marketing strategy from the customers’ point of view.

 It prioritizes consumers using common sense, intuition, and factual data about customer behavior

2. Customer Value Marketing 

Customer Value Marketing

Customer value marketing is the marketing principle that puts more resources and efforts into improving the value of the offering. For marketers, customer value is what customers perceive your product or service to be worth. When the company creates value for the customer, they create value for the company. It’s a give-and-take relationship.

3. Innovative Marketing

Customer Value MarketingSource

Innovative marketing is one of the sustainable marketing principles that promote new services and products in the process of innovation. It ensures that a company never stops finding new ways to develop services, products, and better ways to market.

4. Sense of Mission Marketing 

Sense of Mission MarketingSource

Sense of mission marketing is the marketing principle that guides an organization’s broad mission to reach out to society rather than only the product. It focuses on the people’s emotional connection to the company’s objective. Having an overall mission gives a company a long-term direction serving the long interests of the customers and the brand.

5. Societal Marketing

Societal Marketing Source

Societal marketing is one of the sustainable marketing principles that states that a company should make marketing decisions not only by considering the company’s requirements and the consumer’s wants but also the society’s long-term interests. Furthermore, it aims to reframe the recommended behavior change so that the customer realizes that the benefits of change outweigh the costs or efforts. 

3 Sustainable Marketing Examples

Multiple companies have adopted sustainable marketing practices. And numerous such companies are top-notch options for examples of sustainable marketing.

Let’s try and understand their strategy.

1. Apple

AppleSource

Market sustainability works with smart tactics. For example, the logo of Apple® is the most recognizable in the world. Unlike most other abstract objects, the logo of apple is something we can relate to! It is a natural everyday object that our brains instantly recognize without effort.

Words have power and are symbols that create images in mind. Apple has a webpage dedicated to the environment that lets images tell their brand’s story. Images show the users that the company harnesses the power of nature to make their products. 

Apple ensures to choose each word wisely that features of their sustainability marketing page. For example, it connects the word “fight” to “every voice matters,” which speaks to the social fighter within us who wants to be heard and everyone else to be heard.

And the company, in the literal sense, allows us to be heard by making one of the most in-demand communication devices on the planet. The message is genuine and one of the best sustainable marketing examples. 

2. Patagonia

The apparel industry is infamous for poor working conditions and low wages. But for Patagonia®, it’s different! It has earned a reputation as a sustainability marketing brand and is one of the finest examples of sustainable marketing.

Let’s see how they focus on sustainability marketing:

  1. The brand donates a percentage of its sales to help the natural environment.
  2. The brand voluntarily submits to rigorous audits of its supply chain and publishes the information, even if it reflects poorly on the organization. After the audits are out, they try to work on the loopholes.
  3. The brand focuses on long-term impacts rather than short-term gains. 

Patagonia has always focused on doing good for the planet while making a profit. Let’s take a look at their carbon footprint page.

PatagoniaSource

The first thing you notice is their message, and that message has power.

“Everything we make has an impact on the planet.” 

The company is claiming responsibility for its actions while being true to its brand. It does not use abstract but relatively clear language to communicate with the audience. For example, by using the word “planet,” the brand makes it the unfortunate center of everyone’s irresponsible actions, including their own.

It’s not the end; the more you scroll down, you’ll see the brand talking about how they are claiming responsibility for their actions. And that’s one powerful way of sustainable marketing. For this reason, we have Patagonia on the list of our examples of sustainable marketing.

3. Lego

Lego is one the finest examples of sustainable marketing. When you land on Lego’s sustainability page, you’ll see the image of a treehouse made with Lego.

Yes, it’s fantastic. But there’s an underlying message that ties the idea of sustainability and Lego together clearly and inextricably.

LegoSource,

The brand’s mission statement appears just below the treehouse image:

“We want to play our part in building a sustainable future and making a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit.”

The mission statement is carefully crafted with words. Lego doesn’t stop at just helping the planet. It touches the audience’s core by mentioning children and makes you feel like a complete fool if you don’t care about the mess you’ll leave behind for them and their descendants.

As Lego is a toy manufacturer, it also reinforces the brand. It is one of the most well-crafted sustainable marketing examples. 

Wrapping Up 

Practice Sustainable MarketingSource

After analyzing the sustainability marketing examples of some of the world’s most popular brands, it’s time for you to take a look at your company’s stance on market sustainability. 

Business owners who care about market sustainability can enhance their connections with customers and drive sales and success.  If you are part of sustainability marketing, reevaluate your message to see whether it genuinely reflects your customers, company’s, and brand’s value. 

Strategic authenticity is the key ingredient of companies who carefully select the words and images that reflect their brand and mission and appeal to their customers. Regardless of your industry, you can commit to helping the planet and people with honesty and integrity through sustainability marketing practices. 

Do your part for the world, and take a step towards sustainable marketing!

Frequently Asked Questions

You need a sustainable marketing strategy to position your brand as an active participant in an environmental or societal issue. It can humanize your brand message and build a loyal customer base.

Sustainable marketing is more customer-centric and environmental-centric rather than product-centric.On the other hand, traditional marketing entices customers with products and services that appeal to a particular lifestyle.

The 5 steps for successful sustainable marketing are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Alignment
  3. Establishing Priorities
  4. Implementation
  5. Learning and Adapting

The key challenges to sustainability marketing are:

  1. Poor understanding of sustainability benefits
  2. Lack of understanding

You can implement sustainable marketing by:

  1. Placing value ahead of profit
  2. Having a larger purpose
  3. KBeing consumer-oriented
  4. Reflecting sustainability in every aspect of your brand

Updated : January 4, 2024

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