Over the years, “sustainability” has become more than just a buzzword. Now more than ever, consumers are highly aware of the environment and the steps they can take to sustain the globe for future generations. According to a study completed by IBM, 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative environmental impact.
So, how can your company adopt a sustainable business strategy to meet consumer needs? We’ll discuss this and more in this week’s blog.
What is Sustainability Marketing?
Sustainable marketing describes the practice and promotion of socially responsible values. Sustainable brands sell quality products and services that don’t harm the environment. In addition to changing consumer behavior, the concept is growing in popularity due to highly dynamic public policy and regulation demanding businesses to implement more environmentally friendly processes.
For example, the State of New York recently joined California in an initiative to phase out the sale of internal combustion engines over the next 3 decades. The US government has introduced a similar plan as well, laying out a multistep strategy to shift Americans from gasoline-powered vehicles to fully electric transportation – all in an effort to reduce pollution and the emission of harmful greenhouse gasses into the environment. This move has forced the automotive industry, as well as adjacent companies, to adopt sustainable operational and marketing standards to satisfy federal regulations while meeting the needs of their consumer base.
Principles of Sustainability Marketing
To create an effective sustainability marketing strategy, you must grasp the principles behind it:
- Innovative Marketing – Never stop finding ways to innovate, improve, and develop exciting products and services for your audience
- Consumer-oriented Marketing – Creating and executing your marketing strategy with your target consumer in mind
- Customer Value Marketing – Investing resources towards continuously improving the value you provide to your demographic
- Sense of Mission Marketing – Defining a broad mission for your company and ensuring your products and services align closely with this objective
- Societal Marketing – Balancing consumer wants and needs with your company’s requirements, as well as the long-term interests of society
Tips for Effective Sustainability Marketing
Turn off the Printer
In our highly digital world, this tip is likely the easiest for firms to implement.
Gone are the days of printing meeting agendas on paper or associates hand-delivering multi-page reports to managers. Tools such as Google Docs are vastly more efficient, as collaborators can make edits and see changes in real-time.
Inbound marketing has also been made simpler with technology. Companies should consider tossing out brochures and digitizing this information to save on printing costs. The rapid advancement in enterprise technology over the past decade has made it easy for businesses to drastically reduce the amount of internal paper waste they produce.
Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility
As its name suggests, corporate social responsibility is your business’ way of giving back to society. Consumers are no longer solely influenced by the quality of your products and services. They also want to know what your brand is doing to better the world we all live in. In fact, reports show that over 70% of buyers believe social responsibility to be one of the most important attributes of a company, compared to only 44% that cited a business’ pricing strategy as their top consideration.
Google is a great example of brands that thrive when it comes to CSR. The company was the first major company to become carbon neutral in its founding decade. Shortly after, they became the first to achieve 100% renewable energy. Their latest goal, established in 2020, involves moving towards operating on carbon-free energy by 2030 in addition to investing billions of dollars in environmentally friendly projects. Over the years, Google has established itself as a leader in the realm of corporate social responsibility and has outlined a winning blueprint for brands to follow.
Audit Your Suppliers
Believe it or not, your suppliers are an extension of your business. Who they are and what they do will reflect on your brand whether you like it or not. For the sake of your reputation, it’s best to get a clear understanding of their policies, procedures, and initiatives before signing multi-year contracts on behalf of your organization. Also, consider working with businesses in your area to reduce the number of greenhouse gasses your company is responsible for after transporting materials and people to your offices and back.
Your current suppliers shouldn’t be ignored either. Take a closer look at your vendors and determine if their mission aligns with yours. If it’s not clear from their website or recent press appearances, don’t be afraid to ask! It may take a lot of time, but this type of preventative work is absolutely necessary for an effective sustainability marketing strategy.
In business, certifications from credible organizations hold a lot of weight to future employees, competitors, and buyers alike. Sustainability marketing is no different. If your business offers products or services that have eco-friendly elements, it’s best to get them certified.
Oftentimes, consumers actively seek out companies with certain certifications before deciding which brand to engage with. Receiving relevant certifications from highly regarded organizations can open up a whole new audience for you. Here are a few of them:
- Rainforest Alliance
- Leaping Bunny
- USDA Organic
- Investors in the Environment
These days, having a great product or service is only part of the equation. Customers want to know that your brand is driving change for issues that are currently affecting our world. Sustainable marketing educates them about brands they can support that align with their own core values and principles. Businesses owners who care about creating a sustainable world have the power to both enhance their connections with progressive consumers and positively impact their bottom line. When done authentically, sustainable marketing unites businesses and their audience under a set of shared goals and missions that will lead to a brighter future for current and future generations.