Sustainability is an issue that is gaining more and more strength considering the great relevance of sustainability in our current reality. Therefore, the principles of sustainable marketing become a mandatory topic in today's organizations.
For example, an investigation of Retail Industry Leaders Association identified that 93% of consumers expect the brands they consume to support social and environmental issues.
As a result of this, many companies, which cannot necessarily be defined as sustainable, are realizing that they can take advantage of any type of sustainability action to add value to their brands and sell more.
Taking into account the above, in this article we are going to address the principles of sustainable marketing and the way in which companies, regardless of their size, can adapt it with various actions that are easy to implement, but with great results in the future.
What do we understand by sustainable marketing?
Quoting Diane Martin's definition in her book sustainablemarketing, “Sustainable marketing is the process of creating, communicating and delivering value to customers in such a way that both natural and human capital are preserved or enhanced at all times.
In fact, the above definition is a combination of two elements, what we understand as marketing (creating and communicating the value of the business) and the concept of sustainability (the actions we carry out without compromising the ability of future generations, with economic balance, environmental and social).
More pragmatically, the company Smart Insights defines sustainable marketing as the promotion of environmentally and socially responsible products, practices and brand values.
For example, if you've ever spent a little more on something because you know it was made with environmentally friendly or recyclable 100% materials, you've experienced sustainable marketing.
We can synthesize sustainable marketing as the way to communicate the sustainable essence of the business, attracting potential customers and creating value for society.
The 5 principles of sustainable marketing
Next, we will review in detail the principles of sustainable marketing from the perspective of business strategy.
Principle 1: Consumer Oriented Marketing
Consumer-oriented marketing means that the company or organization views its marketing strategy from the point of view of the consumer.
This means that the company must prioritize satisfying customer needs by delivering the value they want, rather than creating a need for a product in the market based on its offering.
This approach will lead to attraction marketing rather than simply driving sales.
It is not about addressing the common belief that the customer is always right, but about implementing a real system to listen to the customer's needs, interpret them in the best way and, based on this, generate products, services and processes that deliver genuine value to the customer.
By doing this, the company will realize that many of its customers have a high awareness of preserving their environment and these will provide valuable insights that will facilitate the development of more valuable and sustainable products.
Principle 2: Customer Value Marketing
Customer value marketing involves putting the majority of efforts and resources into continually improving the value added to the offering.
One example of this is Starbucks custom name cups. A detail that may seem simple, but that meant an increase in value for the company and customers felt represented in the brand, increasing their loyalty.
This strategy can be understood as a spiral in which as the company creates value for the customer, the customer in turn creates value for the company.
Principle 3: Innovative Marketing
The principle of innovative marketing ensures that the company never stops finding different and better ways to develop processes, products, services and marketing models.
This is so because customers increasingly demand more innovative products that can meet new needs or in new contexts (for example, the new normality after COVID).
Consequently, the company must have a system that allows it to generate and manage ideas to turn them into innovative products and services of great value to customers.
Principle 4: Marketing with a sense of mission
Marketing with a sense of mission is the principle that allows the company to link its purpose to a long-term sustainable approach.
The company's mission should not be focused on simply generating more profits, expanding the business, or increasing value for shareholders, but should have a scope of social and environmental transcendence where value is delivered to all parties involved (customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and society in general).
Adopting a broader mission gives a company a clear, long-term direction and serves the best interests of consumers and the brand.
Principle 5: Social Marketing
Using the principle of social marketing, the company balances decisions based on customer wishes, company requirements, and the long-term interests of the customer and society.
Sustainable marketing goes beyond concern for the needs and wants of today's society, but instead focuses on the well-being of all stakeholders and the world at large.
Keep in mind to implement the principles of sustainable marketing
If you want to see results after the implementation of sustainable marketing actions, you must start the implementation as soon as possible.
Sustainable marketing requires long-term planning because it depends on the sustainability actions that are implemented in the company, which do not have immediate results.
For example, the LEGO company has a mission that its bricks are sustainable by 2030 and for this, carry out annual actions which give small victories that you can transmit to your clients and support several of your marketing strategies.
Finally, keep in mind that sustainable marketing is highly linked to the triple bottom line concept.
This concept defines that, contrary to the approach that the company should only pursue profitability, it should focus on finding opportunities in three important areas of an organization: Financial, environmental and social.