Sustainable Marketing: Why It Matters and How to Implement It Effectively

Written by Alifia Rahari
October 23, 2023

With the alarming rate of the climate crisis, sustainable marketing has become a trend in the business world.

Presently, we cannot ignore the danger of climate change, as its implications extend beyond the environmental problem. It now also affects the world’s economic state. For instance, with extreme weather changes, it’s predicted that fisheries in Southeast Asia will fall by 30% by 2050. Unusual weather change prevents fisherfolks from going out to sea, depriving them of their livelihoods.

That’s why, in this case, adopting sustainable marketing methods is actually important for all kinds of organizations. Rachel Ooi, a DEI and Sustainability Thought Leader at Dentsu International emphasizes that the marketing industry has the power to shape people’s perceptions and behaviors. Thus, it’s important for marketing managers to steer their brands toward a more positive influence on society, including applying sustainable marketing. 

To know more about the importance of sustainable marketing for businesses and how to implement it effectively, keep reading.

What is Sustainable Marketing?

Sustainable marketing is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) responsibilities. It’s often used interchangeably with green marketing, yet both terms differ slightly. Green marketing is a branch of sustainable marketing that focuses more on environmental awareness and protection. On the other hand, sustainable marketing focuses not only on environmental issues but also the social and economic concerns. 

Why Opt for Sustainable Marketing

Consumers today care more about companies’ involvement in social and environmental issues. According to Statista, 6 out of 10 people worldwide expect brands to advocate for sustainability. This alone can be a good reason why brands should prioritize sustainability in their marketing strategies. However, there are further advantages to consider.

Improve Brand Reputation

Brand influence can reach far beyond the marketplace and the point of sale, Ooi continued in her article. By doing honest sustainable marketing, companies can show that they care about the issue as much as their consumers do. This sets them apart from similar brands, shaping an image of responsibility and thoughtfulness. Accordingly, this will attract and retain consumers.

Increase Customer Loyalty

Research from the Harvard Business Review indicates that Gen Z and Millennial customers are 27% more likely to purchase from brands that care about their impact on people and the planet. This shows that promoting genuine concern for sustainability can build customer trust, which then influences their buying habits. Of course, in terms of market value, trusted companies will perform really well.

Cost Effective

The incorporation of sustainable practices can help reduce business costs. For instance, in the manufacturing industry, using renewable energy sources like solar and wind power will reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Not only will it cut down carbon emissions, but it can also reduce fuel costs. Additionally, reusing recycled materials such as plastics and metals minimizes the time and resources required to create products.

How to Implement Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing is not as daunting as it may seem. The key is to focus on an issue, spread awareness about it, and present your brand as one of the solutions your customers could do to help. However, it’s important to avoid falling into the greenwashing trap, which can harm your organization rather than benefit it. 

Adapted from HubSpot, follow these steps to execute sustainable marketing effectively. 

Have a Greater Purpose

Infuse your brand with a clear social mission that extends beyond mere revenue. For example, a clothing brand from Thailand, MaeTeeta, is committed to preserving traditional indigo-dyed techniques from Thailand. They use no synthetic chemicals in their process and all of their products are handcrafted by local artisans.

Prioritize Value Over Profits

An environmental or social movement cannot be done overnight. It requires time and effort to gain customer trust as well. Recognize that sustainable marketing is a long-term project, so don’t focus on gaining immediate returns. Instead, build your consumers’ loyalty by familiarizing them with the issue you’re addressing.

Be Consumer-Oriented

Consumer-oriented in this case means understanding their needs and tailoring the marketing accordingly. For instance, people value transparency nowadays. It’s important to be honest about your brand’s sustainable efforts. This can be easily achieved through active engagement on social media platforms.

Reflect Sustainability Everywhere in Your Brand

It’s counterproductive if you promote an eco-friendly product, but still use single-used plastic as your packaging. Consumers will only see your marketing as greenwashing rather than genuine commitment. Try to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of your brand. In the process, it’s okay to still be lacking in certain aspects, as long as your company is transparent about it.

Final thoughts

Indeed, in the business world, perfect sustainability will be hard to achieve. However, given the escalating climate crisis, it has become essential for society to adopt sustainable practices in everyday life. Sustainable marketing enables companies and brands to help spread awareness about the climate crisis to a broader audience. In addition to benefiting the environment, it enhances brand reputation, which, in turn, boosts profitability.

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