Is sustainable marketing possible? Or is Marketing’s goal for healthy profits in conflict with our search for a healthy planet and a healthy society?
I attended a fantastic webinar by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in December – http://cim.co.uk. It explained how sustainable marketing is not in conflict with profitability and showed us the way forward. Sustainability is a very wide concept embracing the United Nations’ 17 goals for sustainable development. For example, they include a renewed focus on reducing our carbon footprint, but they also include the goals to make water clean for everyone and offer an education for every child. Therefore, a healthy society is a priority for the UN as much as a healthy planet. Moreover, every private sector organisation can play its part to achieve a sustainable future for us all.
Marketers and communicators understand the new conscious consumers. They rightly demand that the brands they buy are created in ethical ways without exploitation of people or resources. Yes, consumers do continue to buy products and services from brands who do not prioritise sustainable practices, but this will change, the webinar suggested. Consumers will continue to buy products if the price, availability and specification meet their needs for now, but they are ready to change and change quickly if a sustainable alternative becomes available.
Customers understand that profits are essential, but they want to know how those profits are used. And they want to know about the ethical standpoint of the organisation as it allocates the profits. Does the organisation properly reward its employees? Does the organisation use some of the profits to serve its community?
I loved one of the practical ideas suggested in the webinar, a remodeling of the BOGOF concept. Here, BOGOF stands for Buy One, Give One Free and means that for every item purchased, the brand will donate a free one to its community. A disadvantaged family can then benefit from the brand’s products or services.