If you’ve ever spent a little more on a product because it was locally sourced or supported a disadvantaged community, you have experienced sustainable marketing. And you wouldn’t be alone – according to research, 79% of consumers change their purchase preference based on a service or product’s social or environmental impact. This has caused marketing professionals to race to re-evaluate their organisations’ sustainability messaging.

We take a closer look at what sustainable marketing is, why it is important, and how you can implement it as part of your overall marketing strategy.

What is Sustainable Marketing?

The textbook definition of sustainable marketing is described in Diane Martin and John Schouten’s tome, Sustainable Marketing:

“Sustainable marketing is the process of creating, communicating and delivering value to customers in such a way that both natural (resources nature provides) and human (resources people provide) capital are preserved or enhanced throughout.”

In other words, sustainable marketing focuses on the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of a company’s products or services. The goal is to create long-term value for both the company and its employees, customers, and the wider community by considering the environmental and social impacts of their marketing activities.

Sustainable marketing is similar to green marketing or eco-marketing but broader in scope. Whereas green marketing focuses on the environmental impact of a company’s products or services, sustainable marketing also considers the social and economic impacts.

To be effective, a sustainable marketing strategy must include the “triple bottom line”, as described by John Elkington, a founder of the Global Sustainability Movement. This triple bottom line is made up of environmental protection, social responsibility, and economic growth and is aimed at both meeting customer needs and creating long-term shareholder value. This sets it apart from the traditional bottom line, which is profit.

What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Marketing?

Sustainable marketing practices benefit companies, their products and their services in a number of ways. For instance:

  • Companies that positively impact the world are seen in a better light by consumers, which can lead to increased sales and improved brand reputation.
  • It helps create long-term shareholder value by ensuring that a company’s products or services will still be in demand in the future.
  • Studies show millennials and Gen Z consumers, in particular, prefer sustainable brands and are willing to spend more on sustainable products. 
  • Younger workers want to work for companies that share their concern for environmental and social justice.

Sustainability-linked consumer products can grow nearly six times faster than their unsustainable counterparts.

5 Sustainable Marketing Principles

According to hocMarketing, there are five core principles and strategies that each play an important role in creating a sustainable marketing mix. 

Consumer-Oriented Marketing: This is when a company markets its products and services in ways that align with the consumer’s perspectives. It places consumers at the centre of a company’s marketing strategy and shows how the company’s products or services can benefit them.

Customer-Value Marketing: This marketing strategy builds maximum value with its customers. Companies research what product qualities and attributes their customers value and create marketing campaigns that focus on those. 

Innovative Marketing: When a company markets its ability to continually provide innovative products or services while updating and improving existing products or services with new technology. 

Sense-of-Mission Marketing: Here, a company refocuses its broader mission in terms of society instead of maintaining a central focus on an individual product or brand. 

Societal Marketing: This kind of marketing is when a company takes a societal or environmental problem (e.g. pollution) and markets how the company is contributing to a solution. 

Get a Head Start in Sustainable Marketing

The bottom line is this: conventional marketing thinking cannot cope with the ecological, social and commercial realities that we are faced with today. As expert cognitive influencers, marketers have a unique and essential part to play in driving behaviour change and shaping and implementing effective corporate sustainability strategies. 

Through our Digital Marketing Course, students explore the key aspects of marketing and sustainability and are able to identify those that create long-term value for their company and its customers. Sign up today and start the new year with a sustainable advantage