In the existing market scenario, numerous products fulfill the needs of the customers. Earlier products were made to fulfill the needs of customers now products are made and then marketers make the customers realize they need that product. It can be said that marketers generate need among the customers. Even if people do not require the product, they are convinced that they need that particular product (Lorek and Spangenberg 2014). It can be said that the marketers are doing excellent job when it comes to convincing or motivating them to buy their products or services. Important thing here is whether the role of the marketers is just to fulfill the needs of the customers or they have some other roles as well. Looking at the need and consumptions of customers with the lenses of sustainability would bring some concerning issues to light. The products used by customers might be beneficial for them as it fulfills their needs but they put a negative impact on environment. The way products are consumed is a matter of concern (Lorek and Spangenberg 2014).
Sustainable consumption is the need of the hour. Sustainable consumption can only be practiced when the consumers are aware about the concept sustainable consumption. Therefore, it is very important to know what exactly Sustainable Consumption is. According to Sahakian and Wilhite (2014) Sustainable consumption referred to responsible use of products and services so that the impact on the environment is minimal. The products used by consumers negatively affect the environment either during the process of its consumption or after the consumption (Lacoste 2016). Impacts of some of the products to the environment are evident like automobiles, refrigerators and air conditioners that pollute the environment with carbon emissions. These are not the only products that put a negative impact on the environment. Even small FMCG products are contributing to environmental pollution. The packets of eatables like biscuits, soaps, toiletries, tea packets, use and throw tea cups, plate and many more put contribute environmental pollution. Lack of awareness among the consumers is causing the problem to increase more (Sahakian and Wilhite 2014). Consumers are responsible for this but are they the only ones to be blamed. The marketers are also to be blamed.
The marketers have bigger role to play in directing the consumers to act responsibly. They should direct their customers regarding the sustainable consumption. The marketers play a role that might fulfill the needs of the customers for a while but they are contributing to a problem that might in future risk their lives and even they would not be able to prevent it. They are not acting sensibly. It is quite evident that profit making is their prime objective, which is not bad. Ignoring the environmental concerns is bad (Armstrong et al. 2014). The market is flooded with all sorts of products to fulfill every need of the people. They set their target market and promote their products. They never fail to provide all the required information about the products and guidelines to use should the products (Rettie, Burchell and Barnham 2014). Another most important information that they fail to convey to their customers is that the packets of the products like soaps, biscuits, cups and many others are made of plastics that is non-biodegradable does not decompose and contribute to polluting the environment. According to Oates, Alevizou and McDonald (2016) Marketers’ duty is to provide direct their target customers that the packets of the products used be disposed in garbage bins that are taken for waste management. Packets that are made of plastics should not be burned because plastics when burned produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide contributes to ozone layer depletion (Oates, Alevizou and McDonald 2016). If all the consumers all around the world burn the plastic packets then the impact is very destructive. It is often seen that the plastic packets of various products are thrown in water bodies and the areas surrounding it. Plastic packets keep floating in the water surfaces and pollute the water bodies which contributes to growth of mosquitoes causing harmful diseases. The marketers are required to address these issues. This can be done by simply putting the information on the packets of the products that the wrappers and packets should be disposed in the dustbins and not to thrown anywhere else (Charter 2017). They should also mention that plastics should not be burned.
According to else Charter (2017) the expected role of marketers does not restrict to this they can practice sustainable production as well. They should minimize the use of plastics and rather use other products that put minimal impact on the environment. Some of the plastics cannot be recycled so its use in production needs to be reduced. Biopolymers or casein bags can be used instead of plastics these substances are biodegradable. Marketers with the help of their research and development find such materials to replace the use of plastics (Charter 2017). According to Vergragt, Akenji and Dewick (2014) Marketers should apply innovative ideas not just for product development but also for sustainable consumption and production. This is how they can play a constructive role in the sustainable consumption. The automobile industry also needs innovation and innovative ideas to reduce the carbon emission through the vehicles. Petrol and diesel when burnt contribute to air pollution. Carbon emissions from automobiles are one of the biggest reasons behind severe environmental problems like global warming, climate change and ozone layer depletion. It is very much evident that the marketers are directly contributing towards environmental problems (Vergragt, Akenji and Dewick 2014). Most of them are not taking any initiative towards solving this problem. A simple awareness for sustainable consumption can help a lot. Sustainability in production and manufacturing might be very costly for the marketers because it would require scientific research for finding alternatives of harmful substances. Awareness videos or providing information on the plastic packet is enough to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment. It is not just plastics the aluminum bottles are also harmful for the environment.
However, it cannot be said that all the marketers completely ignore the sustainability aspect and environmental concerns. Automobile companies undertake advertising campaigns to address serious issues like climate change. Daimler Chrysler runs a campaign for Fresh air, Honda for safe and Environmental. Toyota campaigns for clean air, Volkswagen for save fuel. The name of the campaign run by Kia is “Think before you Drive”. Likewise, many petroleum companies are taking initiatives for preservation of the nature for coming generations. Companies like Pepsico and Coca-Cola instruct the consumers to crush and dispose the PET bottles (Reisch, Eberle and Lorek 2013). In many products recycle image is provided or image of packet being thrown in trash bins instructing the consumers to do the same. Levi Strauss is one such company that is working to transform the behavior of its customers. The company has strictly instructed in its supply chain regarding the sustainability. The clothing company promotes practices like reducing the water consumption during manufacturing of the textiles and interweaving of recycled glass and plastic into denim fabric (Hamari, Sjöklint and Ukkonen 2016). On the other hand, there are companies that use misleading advertisement to represent themselves as environmentally responsible. Government takes strict actions against these companies who make false concerns regarding environmental concerns.
Legal actions are taken against the advertisements related to environmental causes that are misleading the audience. One such example is of the suit filed by Belgium against Procter and Gamble for advertising phosphate free detergents but in reality it was false representation and misleading the audience, the detergent contributed to pollution (Kang, Liu and Kim 2013). Similarly, in Denmark those gardening products companies advertised their products as” environmentally green” but were not. Belgium, Finland and Sweden filed a suit against General motors for discontinuing their claims of “for a cleaner environment”. In Australia the trade practices Act 1974 (TPA) also prevents misleading, deceptive advertisements and misrepresentations. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have established guidelines on environmental advertising claims (Kang, Liu and Kim 2013).
Therefore, from the given discussion it can be concluded that the marketers have a greater role to play in maintaining sustainable in consumption. They should take the lead to create awareness amongst the customers. Just like the company Levi Strauss Co. they should change the behavior of their customers. Maintaining sustainability is very important so is sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption is responsibility of both producers and the customers. Customers do not have the awareness regarding the product and its impact on the environment but marketers do have the idea. All they need to act responsibly and share this important information with their target market and help them to take steps towards preventing them from creating pollution or contributing other severe environmental concerns. The marketers are required to stop practices like misrepresentation, misleading and deceptive advertisements. Rather they should practice and promote sustainable production as well thus reducing the negative impact on the environment. They need to be selfless and not just think about making profits but rather take a serious call towards sustainable consumption.
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