Developing a Sustainable Marketing Strategy
Sustainable marketing is more than advertising and promotions. Your company needs to look at the long-term commitments it’s willing to make to uphold its mission. A sustainable strategy is essential to your customers, but also to the global community. This article offers background on what sustainability is, why it’s important to business and how to make it part of your marketing plan.
What is sustainability?
In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Or more simply, ensuring that today's development doesn't negatively affect future generations.
Why should businesses embrace it?
Over the last decade studies have repeatedly shown that consumers prefer to shop from brands with a purpose; they will even change their shopping habits to make that happen. In 2020, Business Partner Magazine reported that 54% of Gen Z and 48% of Millennials find a brand's sustainability efforts to be central to their purchasing decisions.
Putting sustainability marketing into practice
Your business will need a good marketing plan, but first you must create a solid strategy that takes into consideration the hundreds of ways to tackle environmental, economic and social issues and what your company can reasonably manage. Here are some tips for getting started:
Have a bigger purpose. Think beyond revenue and evaluate your brand by metrics that are bigger than profits. Look at your company's mission and how well your company is performing to meet those stated goals. If you don't have one yet, write one and think carefully about what measurements you'll use to assess your company.
Be customer focused. Understand your customers’ sustainability needs and tailor your plan to their expectations. Discover what matters most to customers and implement gradual changes that resonate with them.
Make it part of everything you do. Your brand's sustainability commitment needs to be part of everything you do from operations to packaging and customer service to promotions. In other words, you need to practice what you preach.
Avoid short-termism. Don't focus too heavily on what you will be able to do in the short term but consider your brand's long-term efforts. In a world that changes so quickly, there is comfort in brands whose values and commitments remain consistent. Ensure that every innovation or business development is consistent with your company's long-term mission.
Be adaptable. While long-term investment in your brand is essential, it would be foolish to ignore industry and environmental shifts. Integrated marketers have access to trending reports, industry insights and changes that could affect business. So while it is important that your organization remains reliable and steady, there will be times when it's necessary to reevaluate your positions and adapt to the changing environment.
Strategy is just the beginning
Once your company has established its strategy for sustainability-its beliefs and commitments-you will need to practice it every day. Be on the lookout for ways to incorporate more sustainable practices into your business as well as ways to help customers improve their own efforts.