Why You Should Drive Sustainable Marketing
Over the last decade, there has been a societal paradigm shift in the approach to sustainability. Whereas before, there was an emphasis on businesses to grow economically, it has become apparent that these values have switched to those set on sustainability and environmental preservation.
The initial counter intuitiveness of this comes apparent when the fundamental purpose of a marketer is to encourage profits and sales. However, a united approach can serve to both promote green business growth and customer buying behaviour. So, let’s take a look at why you should become a sustainable marketer.
What is a sustainable marketing mix?
Firstly, the marketing mix influences your strategy, but shifting your focus slightly in 4 of the 7Ps of marketing can make a difference. The key combination to consider for sustainability is product, price, place, and promotion.
With the product, you want to establish your core sustainability principles in a measurable and realistic manner. If your business sells tangible goods, is there a way you can make it fair trade, locally sourced or natural? Can you make simple changes to reduce your carbon footprint? Identifying alternative means of producing your products so that they are green is a good way to form the foundation on how to adjust your brand values.
Price is a crucial element to bear in mind as generally, green products tend to be more expensive due to higher costing ingredients or materials. This can cause problems when trying to appeal to a large market as although consumers like the idea of sustainable products, they may be unwilling or unable to spend that extra money. Ultimately, price comes down to what customers are willing to pay. If your product poses as a competition for other businesses, you are likely to have the edge due to the sustainable stance. Basically, you should ensure that you conduct thorough insight to understand what consumers will be willing to pay and where the barriers lie.
Your place of business may be putting off customers as more are becoming concerned with transportation environmental implications. Are you able to source your produce more locally? If you work with a local business, this could be a great selling point for sustainability. Can you implement sustainable energy methods such as solar panels to your business? If you can’t source locally, are there any routes that can save on carbon emissions? Likewise, an easy change you can introduce is reducing the amount of or using recyclable packaging on tangible products.
Lastly, you want to ensure you promote yourself in the correct way. If you are shifting to a more sustainable strategy, introduce this to your marketing messages. In fact, committed sustainable brands often have a strong image of the positive impact their services and products have on consumers and the environment.
What are the advantages of sustainable marketing?
Driving sustainability as a key business goal comes with a plethora of advantages. Firstly, as the marketer, driving sustainability can help you improve the brand image and subsequently gain an advantage over competitors. Sustainability has been a topical movement for some time, so it should be no surprise that according to the 2020 IBM Research Insights, nearly 60% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce the negative environmental impact. As sustainability is a priority cause politically and socially, it should be expected that businesses are feeling the pressure to adopt green methods. If you act sooner rather than later, you’ll be a step ahead by the time competitors start to make the change to a sustainable marketing strategy.
Adapting your brand to green can also have positive business implications. Enforcing simple strategies such as turning off lights or heating when not in use can be cost effective. You can take more advanced strategies such as implementing wall insulation or solar energy systems, which although short term may be expensive, they will have long term benefits. You can therefore save costs on previously wasted energy.
Along the same lines, reducing waste is the easiest way you can encourage sustainable workplace practices. Ensure you have a recycling waste system in place, saving paper and switching out your standard lights for energy efficient LED lights, are some of the simplest ways you can take the step to being a more sustainable workplace.
How can sustainability be used as a marketing tool?
As previously mentioned, your role as a marketer is to ultimately drive profits by fulfilling a service. But, you can still ensure financial growth whilst contributing to a good cause. In fact, as touched on, sustainability can be a marketing tool in itself.
Due to the shift in societal values, businesses have had to adapt their approaches to satisfy customer demands with regards to sustainability. The marketer’s job is to understand these values and use them to help form the basis of a strategy. Therefore, it is key that you understand what your customers expect from you, what they want to see and how you can use this information to inform your brand. When taking the step towards sustainability, you should conduct customer insight or brand perception research into your consumer base as this will establish a factual basis to clearly define your goals. If you are looking for support with customer insight, please see our customer research services.
A key aspect is to keep your message consistent, there’s no sense in pledging to a cause to only back away or change it shortly after. If you are consistent with your long-term strategy, customers are likely to have more faith in the goals you are trying to achieve. Generally, businesses should plan their goals ahead for 3-5 years, or sometimes even longer. That being said, you should avoid preaching to your customers too much about your change and allow your sustainable benefits to speak for themselves.
Tesla is perhaps one of the most popular examples of a vocally sustainable brand. They have outlined long-term plans which their customers are hoping to achieve. Regarding recycling, Tesla’s battery recycling scheme has become a talking point in the last year as the company takes back waste car batteries for free to be treated and then recycled. They also offer a free take back service of their vehicles to the last registered owner. Tesla’s clean energy and electric cars have been gaining momentum as the demand by customers for sustainability has grown.
Where Tesla have succeeded is by minimising how much customers would have to go out of their way to be sustainable, for example with the free recycling and take back services. The company have clearly put the green aspect of their brand at the forefront of their values, with their mission statement reading “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
It has been established that society have become increasingly passionate about the environmental sustainability cause. Therefore, the pressure on social responsibility has been progressively growing. Consumers want to know the ingredients and materials of products, how they are sourced, and the actions companies take. Taking a step in the direction of sustainable marketing can improve your brand perception and have additional business cost benefits.