Sustainable Marketing: Is It Right For You?
If you are like me, you are hearing more and more about consumer preference to shop from purpose-driven brands. Yet, many don’t know how to identify them. If a brand is green is it sustainable? Is this word used interchangeably? How do I know if a brand is truly sustainable?
According to GreenPrint, an Atlanta-based global environmental technology company, “most Americans (74%) don’t know how to identify eco-friendly products, and nearly two-thirds (64%) are willing to pay more for sustainable products. The study found that if a product is clearly labeled as environmentally friendly, 78% of people are more likely to purchase the product.”
The study also found a large degree of mistrust about companies’ environmental claims.
But before we continue, let’s answer those three questions above. There’s a difference between green marketing and sustainable marketing
Green Marketing is the practice of developing and advertising products based on their real or perceived environmental sustainability.
Sustainable Marketing combines a company’s economic success with environmental and social added value for employees, customers and all of society.
Sustainability is about continuity, adopting behaviors and practices to ensure that the planet is inhabitable, and resources are available for further generations.
In much of the same way, sustainable marketing is a way to build relationships with consumers while letting them know they are important and so are the future generations. It’s about longevity, swapping short-term gain for long-term success. Sustainable marketing is not just about your product, but about your brands image and strategy as well.
Now, back to the main conversation…
Sustainable marketing should be guided by five key principles:
Consumer-Oriented Marketing – the company should view and organize its marketing activities from the consumer’s point of view
Customer-Value Marketing – the company should put most of its resources into customer-value-building marketing investments
Innovative Marketing – requires that the company continuously seek real product and marketing improvements
Sense-of-Mission Marketing – the company should define its mission in broad social terms rather than narrow product terms.
Societal Marketing – the company should make good marketing decisions by considering consumers’ wants, the company’s requirements, and the society’s long-term interests.
Here’s another way of looking at these key principles. Sustainable marketing principles and strategies should:
Have A Larger Purpose: Brands typically gage their success by numbers, ROI. How much revenue they have or will generate is normally the biggest indicator of success. Sustainability shifts this by making brands evaluate their success by something bigger than profit, your social mission, and how the brand plays a role in furthering that mission.
Nike, Dove and The Body Shop are examples of brands that live their purpose which has allowed them to capture a meaningful place in their customer’s minds and catapult their growth.
Think Ahead: Sustainable marketing is all about building long-term value. Forget about the immediate returns and prioritize nurturing consumers during your entire buyer’s journey.
Be Customer-Oriented: We are not talking about pushing a product or service to a customer as done in traditional marketing. It’s more about understanding your customers’ needs and tailoring your marketing to that.
Reflect Sustainability In Ever Aspect Of Your Brand: Sustainable marketing does not work if it is not authentic. This means, look at it from a holistic lens. Ask the questions needed to ensure your brand is reflecting the mission you set out to achieve. If not, don’t do it. Go back and figure out a strategy that aligns with your mission.
TOMS, Patagonia, Beyond Meat, Lush Cosmetics, Yes Straws and Numi Tea are all examples of brands that are focused on their brand mission while positively affecting the planet and finding huge commercial success in the process.
Bottom line, sustainable marketing is not only a long-term commitment, but also a dedication to your mission and staying true to it in everything internal and external manners. If you do this, you will win the most loyal customers who support the value of your product and the environment.
Additional findings from GreenPrint’s Business of Sustainability Index include:
75% of Millennials are willing to pay more for an environmentally sustainable product, compared to 63% of Gen Z, 64% of Gen X and 57% of Boomers.
77% of Americans are concerned about the environmental impact of products they buy.
More than half (56%) of Americans would use a credit card that could calculate and offset the environmental footprint of products purchased.
There’s a noticeable break between generations, with 71% and 66% of Millennials and Gen Z willing to do so, compared to only 50% Gen X, 46% of Boomers and 39% Silent Generation.
76% of Americans would switch their preferred packaged goods brands if they were offsetting carbon emission. 74% would switch gasoline brands in the same situation.
Comparing sectors, 78% of respondents say food/groceries are doing well in terms of demonstrating their commitment to environmentally friendliness. Tech is close behind at 74%, while gas stations and convenience stores rank lower at 51% and 54% respectively.
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