Sustainable marketing strategies: Unlocking business growth with sustainability

Sustainable marketing strategies Unlocking business growth with sustainability

The environmental crisis continues to accelerate, and with that, sustainable marketing strategies should be implemented in any sustainability strategy. According to Forbes, 88 percent of consumers remain loyal to businesses that support social and environmental causes. 

Beyond the apparent advantages to the environment, sustainable marketing can enable businesses to boost profits and appeal to a new market. Keep reading as we dive further into sustainable marketing and how to use sustainability as a lever to unlock business growth.

What is sustainable marketing? 

Sustainable marketing refers to the promotion of socially and environmentally responsible products, practices, and brand values. Businesses that leverage sustainable marketing may source eco-friendly materials and packaging, create products that contribute to sustainable living, and donate profits to environmental causes.

The rise of the conscious consumer

While consumerism has been growing substantially over the past 50 years, times are changing. Consumer behaviour changes rapidly and frequently in ways we do not expect. To make successful business decisions, enterprises must anticipate and respond to shifts in customer preferences and needs. 

This will be required with the latest trend, conscious consumerism. Although it is labelled as a trend, many believe it is not a passing one. Conscious consumerism refers to the rising number of consumers making informed and conscious decisions regarding what, why, and how to purchase products and services. 

In addition, which brands and businesses to support with time and money. There is a body of research to show consumers are increasingly transitioning from complacent overconsumption to conscious consumerism. For instance, a Deloitte food and retail survey published in 2022 found that health and sustainability matter increasingly more to European consumers, alongside affordability and convenience. 

Despite some businesses viewing sustainability as a deal breaker, Deloitte’s research finds 76 percent of consumers would pay more for sustainable products. Moreover, research commissioned by Bord Bia The Thinking House throughout 2017 and 2018 also highlighted a significant increase in individuals considered to be ‘conscious consumers’ in Ireland. The influx brings the consumers deemed ‘conscious’ or ‘concerned’ to almost half of the adult population in Ireland. 

Why is sustainable marketing important?

Sustainable marketing helps businesses take credible climate action as they connect eco-conscious consumers with environmentally friendly offerings. Businesses that follow through on their promises can help significantly slow climate change and protect the environment. 

This should be the primary focus of green marketing practices because it is why consumers’ preferences and attitudes have altered in the first place. In other words, they want businesses to practise accountability and use their enterprise as a force for good. 

However, sustainable marketing strategies offer more advantages than environmental conservation. Businesses that engage in sustainable marketing strategies can avail of a range of benefits. These include increased brand loyalty and profitability, the ability to appeal to new markets, and lower overhead costs. 

For example, it was recently announced that the jewellery giant, Pandora, switched to 100 percent recycled silver and gold. They successfully ended their use of virgin gold and silver a year ahead of their prior commitment. 

Pandora’s move to sustainable sourcing has resulted in a considerable increase in sales. This shows the profitability of green marketing as the brand continues to outperform the market in revenue against a backdrop of a globally declining jewellery market. 

Sustainable marketing best practices

Below are some best practices to enable you to harness the power of sustainability to drive business growth.

Authenticity 

Authenticity in marketing happens when businesses engage deeply with their audiences and build connections with them that feel personal. These steps make customers feel heard and understood. 

Brand authenticity is a key factor in purchasing decisions. Moreover, it is likely to be even more important with sustainable products as consumers are often sceptical about sustainability claims. For sustainable marketing to be effective, it must be authentic. 

Transparency

Businesses must be clear about their sustainability practices and show a real commitment to continuous improvement. This means they must provide detailed information concerning the materials used in their products and explain how they are made. 

Moreover, businesses incorporating sustainable marketing strategies should feature any evidence or certifications on their website to support environmental claims about their products. For example, material certifications, information about how the products are made, or B-corp certifications. All of this demonstrates to customers that you are serious about protecting the environment. 

Engagement

Given that one of the main pillars of sustainable marketing is education, integrating it is an excellent opportunity to engage your customers, employees, and partners. Businesses can share detailed information about the environmental impact of a service or product throughout its life cycle.

They can feature this information on their website and social media pages so consumers can easily discover the brand is committed to sustainability. For employees and partners, brands should consider hosting educational events like workshops that allow individuals to dive deeper into how they can be part of the solution.

Innovation

At its core, innovation emphasises original thinking and the dissemination of new ideas. This philosophy is vital to accomplishing sustainability objectives and ensuring you are never left behind. 

To address the greatest challenge of our time, climate change requires new ideas and leveraging new technology. Through innovation, brands can work to add value and improve customer experiences, which is exactly what today’s consumers are always looking for. 

Collaboration

Collaboration is a vital ingredient of successful sustainable marketing. Environmental issues demand collective responsibility. Leveraging collaboration in sustainable marketing strategies allows businesses to achieve more. 

This is because they can set common goals and pool resources with the individuals or businesses they partner with. In other words, they are combining their resources and efforts, which ultimately boosts their reach and impact.

Challenges in green marketing

Businesses are turning their attention to green marketing due to the number of benefits it brings, but some remain hesitant to fully embrace it. Green marketing remains a new concept and comes with several challenges for organisations. For instance, there is a lack of standardisation to certify a product as green. 

Moreover, some consumers only want to satisfy their buying needs and remain indifferent to their environmental impact. This means they are likely to be unwilling to pay more for sustainable products. Meeting and remaining compliant with evolving regulations can also be difficult, particularly, when these requirements vary across regions. 

The greatest challenge of green marketing is unsurprisingly, greenwashing. This phrase describes the practice of brands using green marketing techniques to mislead consumers into believing that they and their goods or services are more ecologically friendly than they are. Greenwashing could involve advertising select “green” attributes of a service or product that is not wholly environmentally friendly. 

It could also include marketing products as eco-friendly based on vague measures or unsubstantiated claims. The practice of greenwashing can not only minimise the effectiveness of green marketing as a whole but also threaten reputation. Greenwashing can also include making sustainability claims in corporate policies and not seeing them through.

Implementing your green marketing strategy

Before you devise your sustainability marketing strategy, it is a good idea to assess your company’s current environmental impact. Understanding your carbon footprint across operations, supply chains, and products enables you to identify potential areas where you can improve. 

Once you have assessed your environmental impact, you can set clear and measurable objectives. These goals should align with your business values and your target audience’s expectations. All team members should work towards these goals. 

With this in mind, an important next step for some team members may be completing business sustainability training that focuses substantially on green marketing. This training will help them in their roles and better position them to achieve the company’s green goals.

Measuring the impact of green marketing

The final stage of your sustainable marketing journey entails monitoring and measuring your progress. Implementing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor the impact of your green marketing campaigns is a great place to start. Remember that continuous improvement is essential, so let the results guide you. 

Assessing the impact of your green marketing campaigns can be difficult since it is a relatively new form of marketing. However, you can get a sense of your impact by looking at your product or service sales statistics. It can also be beneficial to look at social media metrics to see how many people were converted to sustainability-focused content.

Looking ahead: The future of green marketing

Sustainable marketing can no longer be considered a trend but a type of marketing that is here to stay. Not only that but it is set to dominate as consumers increasingly want to align their purchases with their values and demonstrate a preference for brands committed to sustainability. 

Businesses that embed sustainable marketing strategies open themselves up to new opportunities, enhance brand reputation, and curb costs, all while driving positive change. The bottom line is sustainable marketing should be reflective of company values and show a clear passion and dedication to the cause. 

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