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Building Sustainable Brands: The Key Role of Marketers In a Sustainable Economy

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

In this article, we explore the role of Marketers in building sustainable brands. Today, it is more than promoting, endorsing or selling sustainability; it is about reducing our impact on the planet and creating well-being rather than reinforcing identities.

Sustainable Marketing - What is it?

In recent years, sustainability has become an increasingly important issue for businesses, governments, and consumers in all sorts of sectors, including food and beverage, fashion, tourism and the health and beauty industry.

With the rising awareness that we are using up our finite resources rather quickly, it is clear that our consumption of ' stuff' is having a negative impact on the environment and, perhaps rather surprisingly to some, on the well-being of society and people. As a result, the call to create a sustainable economy, create value and move away from 'Business as Usual' is growing louder.

Role of Sustainable Marketing in a Sustainable Economy

Building sustainable and purpose-driven brands is a critical component of this transformation. Companies have the power to adopt new business models and can influence consumer behaviour - promoting sustainable products and services designed for longevity while helping to tackle global challenges.

On the face of it, building a sustainable brand should be easy. Do a product life cycle assessment, and report on key metrics such as GHG Emissions, the impact on a local community and whether the farmer, grower or miner was paid a living wage. This helps companies meet their conscious customers' needs and wants and supports ESG reporting back to investors. But is this enough? Is this getting to the heart of what a sustainable and circular economy needs to look like? Can we, in fact, do better?

In a sustainable economy, marketers have a critical role to play in helping reduce overconsumption and production. Not only by promoting the sustainable products and services they are responsible for, but also by encouraging responsible behaviour and helping to rewire the economy.

In the food sector, for instance, developing products with nutrient-dense ingredients which are traceable from field to fork, paddock to plate, packaged sustainably and have a verified health claim is imperative to being able to tell an authentic story which builds loyalty and trust in the brand. The knock-on effect is the impact of encouraging customers to make more sustainable choices.

Responsible consumption, why we need to try harder

In addition to promoting sustainable products, sustainable brands must encourage responsible consumption. This involves being accountable for their direct 'marketing footprint' and their indirect footprints' associated with their influence on supply and demand.

In practice, this means supporting the idea that consumers should buy only what they need and use products and services in a responsible manner. Sustainable brands can achieve this by encouraging customers to refuse extra packaging, refill existing containers, recycle, repurpose, or donate items they no longer need, or by promoting the sharing economy, where consumers can share products and services with others, take items back to the brand and repair.

Strategies for Building Sustainable Brands

To build sustainable brands and promote sustainability, Marketers can use several strategies, including:

  • Influence the Development of Sustainable Products and Services

Marketers can help break down silos and ensure cross-functional teams work on product development to reimagine products and services which are designed with the environment in mind, using materials and processes that are ideally circular and are long-lasting, repairable, and recyclable to minimize waste.

  • Live and Breath A Sustainable Brand

Creating a sustainable brand image is not enough; a company needs to commit to sustainability, embedding it across its operations and value chain. This takes time, but low-hanging fruit includes using sustainable packaging, adopting sustainable practices in advertising, and helping to shape and reinforce values aligned with a sustainable future.

  • Ensure marketing claims adhere to the latest legislation and regulations

For sustainable marketers, a key part of their work is to ensure their messaging, on-pack labelling and information and advertisements are transparent, meaningful and substantiated. From the Green Claims Directive under discussion in the EU to the advertising guidance issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) in the UK, authorities intend to stamp out greenwashing, and Marketers have an ethical and moral role to play in this.

Embedding sustainability at the heart of a business

Done right, sustainability can lead to prosperous, resilient companies that are purpose-driven and have content employees and loyal customers who are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products and services.

The question is, do you want to be part of the transformation?

Are you aware of the power you have to influence change?

Check out our subscription plans, and see if our support could help your journey.


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