Businesses are required to market their products and services with a view to create awareness within their target customers for the products and services as offered by them. But in relation to such marketing of products and services, an important concept that has emerged significantly is the sustainability concept. Sustainability in the marketing is defined as a process which involves the promotion of products and services in a manner that has favourable impact on the society and environment at large. Sustainability by itself is defined as a concept that suggests the conservation or utilisation of resources in a manner that has positive level of impact on the environment. The resources are utilised in a manner that accounts for their preservation for the future generation of people. It is therefore responsible way of undertaking business activities aimed at satisfying the needs and expectations of large number of stakeholders of the organisation (Sahay, 2006). In addition to this, the sustainability practice needs to be incorporated in respect to the marketing practice so that the best possible value can be provided to customers. The customers have the right to get accessibility to best possible information and this requires practising sustainability in the process.
This report is focused towards analysing the scope of sustainability with emphasis on the potential of sustainable marketing in particular. The analysis also focuses on the themes and principles of sustainable marketing including the risks and challenges of sustainable marketing. An analysis of the comparative advantage from sustainability marketing is also carried out, and the framework for sustainability marketing. The importance of sustainably pricing the products and services will also be assessed in this report. Finally, the role of ethical and social responsibilities in relation to sustainable marketing and the implication of social media would be discussed.
In respect to the scope of sustainability is concerned, an analysis indicates that sustainability has huge potential of scope in respect to all the fields. This is mainly because sustainability forces on responsible development of activities and this particular factor enhances its scope for acceptability with large stakeholders. Sustainability in marketing also has huge scope because the adaptation of sustainable business practices in marketing would lead to positive and favourable attitude of customers towards such business. The scope of sustainability especially in respect to marketing is available because there has been increasing number of fraudulent practices undertaken by marketers such as deceptive marketing with a view to target their customers efficiently. An analysis of the history of sustainability indicates that this concept was identified for the first time in a German forestry manual in 1700s. However, the concept has witnessed significant amount of development since then which resulted into the higher level of practice of this concept by modern day businesses (The complex history of sustainability timeline, 2009). The scope of sustainability in respect to the field of marketing is significantly higher. This is evident from the fact that companies are marketing their products and services in the 21st century by reflecting the negative features associated with it. This indicates that there has been positive level of approach being undertaken by companies in the 21st century because they have realised the importance of marketing in a sustainable way. The importance of disclosing true and complete information about the products and services is essential and this attitude and approach towards sustainable marketing shows that the focus has been clear that companies are aimed to remain sustainable. Thus, there has been significant level of scope available in respect to sustainable marketing.
This section of analysis is now aimed at evaluating the potential of sustainable marketing and there would be the consideration of relevant examples in analysing such potential. As sustainability is concerned with the responsible usage of resources, it is essential for businesses that they should focus on adapting responsible practices that are environmental friendly and results into the positive support of the welfare and development of community at large. Marketing in a sustainable way implies the undertaking of promotions of company’s products in a manner that is safe and aimed at educating the true aspects or values that the product delivers. Sustainable marketing is therefore the efforts placed by markers in marketing their products and services offerings with a view to educate the actual benefits of the products, and encouraging sustainable consumption of the same (Visser, Matten, Pohl and Tolhurst, 2010).
In respect to the future of such sustainability marketing concept, it can be regarded as highly positive because of its higher level of relevance within modern day organisations. There has been increasing number of organisations that have started considering the applicability of this concept in performing their business practices and processes. Marketing in a sustainable way is considered by businesses by way of even promoting their negative aspects of business performance. This has been a strategic move by businesses whereby they showcase their positive as well as negative aspects with a view to educate their customers for the same. The marketing is done for negative performances as well so that its stakeholders can be educated with respect to the company’s overall performance. This shows a positive future for the adaptation of sustainable practices by businesses in future, as their current marketing performances shows that they do not hesitate in showing their negative performance areas (Idowu and Filhom, 2008).
An analysis of businesses indicates that there is large number of businesses across the world that has already adopted this concept of sustainability in marketing their business practices. They have identified the importance of sustainability which has encouraged them in practising this concept to a higher level. As for example, there are businesses that have focused towards developing products that contributes towards sustainability brand image to their overall performance. Examples of such products include eco-friendly cars, passive houses, fair trade products, products supported on solar power and many more. The products itself are sustainable and their marketing is also considered in a sustainable way. The resulting impact is therefore the increasing acceptability within customers for such sustainable products and services and this is an indicator of their positive level of performance in future. A product by Toyota known as Toyota Prius is the most efficient example of marketing in a sustainable manner (Ottman, 2011).
Procter and Gamble (P&G) is also an important multinational company that has considered the adaptation of this approach to sustainable marketing. The company has adopted this approach by way of integrating the concept of sustainability across different faces of its product life cycle chain. In addition to this, practices such as packaging of products and services, supply chain management, and also the R&D practices as undertaken by the company are aimed at improving its sustainability performance, and they are aimed at creating an image that could lead to its favourable recognition as the green company. The products as developed by P&G are marketed as environmental friendly and they have minimal or no impact on the environment. The emphasis is completely placed on sustainable marketing by the company (Marketing Principles for Sustainable Businesses, 2010).
The important themes and principles of sustainability marketing are analysed in this particular section of analysis. The importance would also be given in analysing the surprising, inspirational and challenges factor associated with such concept of sustainable marketing in particular. The key theme in the entire concept of sustainability marketing as analysed is that the concept focuses highly on the performance of ecosystems. It emphasises on taking activities efficiently so that entire stakeholders of the organisation gets benefitted out of it. The marketing processes of businesses can be regarded as sustainable if the focus has been on educating customers fairly about the products of the company without the intention of deceiving them. Apart from this, the principle of sustainable marketing suggests that it is focused more on the green factor, as the businesses focuses on achieving green environmental performance. The inclusion of green practices not only allows the organisation in becoming sustainable, but it also allows them in remaining accountable to the community and society in which they operate. Apart from this, adaptation of green and sustainable practices also results into charging of fair prices by organisations from their customers. Overall, sustainability principles suggest that they are concerned with the development and welfare of society, community, environment and customers. An analysis of the important factors related to sustainability marketing is performed as follows (Chhabra, 2010).
Surprising Aspects of Sustainability Marketing: The surprising aspect in relation to the application of concept of sustainable marketing implies that it is mainly the disclosure of negative performances that companies have to perform. Although there is a requirement for disclosing the negative aspect associated with company’s performance, yet this practice ensures the positive attainment of organisational goals and allows the opportunity of attaining competitive advantage in particular. The surprising aspect from this concept is that it requires disclosure of practices such as green house gas emissions performed by the organisation, the vulnerabilities to their employees in performing their roles and responsibilities, and also the areas of negative performance. The importance of making disclosure of such of negative aspects is crucial in achieving sustainable marketing. As for example, tobacco selling companies clearly promotes that tobacco consumption is injurious to health, and this has been the most surprising aspect related to this concept of sustainability marketing (Brockett and Rezaee, 2012).
Inspirational Aspect of Sustainability Marketing: This concept of sustainable marketing is also inspirational from a number of perspectives. As for instance, the most inspirational aspect associated with this concept is that the companies that have adverse impact on the performance of environment are also considering the application of this particular concept in their business practices. As for example, oil and gas companies have adverse impact on the performance of environment because the performance of their business activities and processes has direct impact on the environment in terms of emission of hazardous gases. However, the most inspirational aspect associated with such practice is that these oil and gas companies also discloses their negative performance of emitting hazardous gases as a part of their sustainability marketing initiative (Dato-on, 2014).
Challenging Aspect of Sustainability Marketing: In terms of challenging aspect of sustainability marketing, the most challenging is to make every organisation in adapting this practice. Although there has been higher level of acceptance within businesses regarding this concept, yet it has been analysed that the concept of sustainability marketing requires the disclosure of performance activities that have direct impact on environment. Thus persuading businesses to adapt this approach of marketing has been a major challenging factor. These aspects are crucial and a detailed consideration would allow businesses in achieving competitiveness in respect to their performance (Blewitt, 2012).
In considering this practice of sustainability marketing, there are certain major risks and challenges that are also evident. As for instance, the major risk of sustainability marketing is that its inefficient consideration would result into the negative image to the organisation. The disclosure of negative performance areas to a higher level would also risk the performance of the organisation, and this could therefore impact the overall sustainability of the organisation in long run. Thirdly, the challenging aspect with sustainability marketing concept is that it requires huge costs to be incurred by the company in achieving sustainable performance so that it can be disclosed in their sustainability report. Thus, it becomes difficult for the smaller firms to achieve sustainability performance (Doppelt, 2003).
Comparative advantage is the advantage achieved by a firm over others. The consideration of this sustainability practice is likely to allow the organisation in achieving comparative advantage over others, and the most likely reason supporting this fact is that there has been higher preference within customers for the company’s products that ensures the performance of sustainable processes in their business practices (Dunphy, 2000).
Based on the analysis of the concept of sustainability marketing, a framework has been considered appropriate and a study as conduced by Crittenden, Ferrell and Pinney (2010) indicated an important framework as follows:
The above framework of the sustainability marketing is a market oriented model in achieving sustainability.
Ethical values are highly important to an organisation because they determined the morality in respect to the organisation’s approaches in performing activities. Ethical and social responsibilities of an organisation in relation to marketing of their products are that they should clearly provide the message about their products to their final consumers without deceiving the audience. They should introduce all the information with respect to their products and services to their consumers so that final decisions can be undertaken by them in an efficient manner. Sustainability marketing also emphasises businesses to act in a responsible manner not only towards their customers but it also emphasises ethics towards the society at large. It is therefore the ethical and social responsibility of an organisation to act in the interest of the public and sustainable marketing in an important way in achieving this (Gonzalez-Perez and Leonard, L. 2013).
Supply chain is another important consideration that needs be made in performing the sustainable marketing of products and services. It is highly essential that supply chain should be sustainable enough so that the real value of sustainable marketing can be achieved. In addition to this, sustainable pricing is also an important factor that must be considered in marketing the products and services into a sustainable manner. The prices should be reasonable for the products and services so that they accounts for offering value to the final consumers and thereby maintains a sustainable image of the entire organisation. In respect to the existence of relationship between supply chain and sustainable marketing, it can be analysed that there exists positive relationship. This is mainly because the parties involved in the supply chain are crucial in achieving operational efficiency. Sustainable marketing is all about providing true and fair view of the performance of an organisation and also its products and services. In this relation, it is essential that the supply chain partners should also adapt a sustainable approach so that the overall image of the products as offered by the company can be improved. The resulting impact would be better possibility of marketing it in a sustainable manner.
Apart from the above, supply chain and sustainable pricing of product also involves positive level of relationship. As for instance, the efficiency in the supply chain allows effectiveness, and the benefit of which can be utilised by companies in improving their offerings to customers. Such efficiency would enhance organisation’s processes and they in turn would enable them to market in a sustainable manner. The attainment of cost efficiency in the process and positive level of contribution by all the members in the supply chain would reduce the potential that the company would charge higher prices for its offerings. The reasonable pricing for its products also allows them in meeting out their customer needs positively through encouraging sustainable marketing practice.
Technology has a crucial role to play in every major domains and in respect to sustainability marketing, the implication of this technological factor is crucial. The marketing functions can be positively carried out by way of making use of technology. Technological application can be possible in marketing by way of digital media as this digital medial allows for reaching wide range of target audiences effectively. The significance of digital media is therefore higher in performing the marketing process. This digital media is available in the form of social media such as the use of Facebook, Twitter etc and these could be utilised in promoting the use of sustainability in the marketing practices by businesses. As the digital media allows for easy accessibility to wide audience, the promotion of sustainable marketing could be performed efficiently across target audiences (Hawkes, 2001).
In this report, a critical assessment has been carried out in respect to the concept of sustainability marketing and its principles and themes associated with it. The performance of analysis revealed findings that sustainability marketing is a process of marketing organisation’s activities with a view to ensure fair education of customers regarding the products and services that are offered by the company. The analysis indicated about different important themes of sustainability marketing, and also highlighted about the inspirational and challenging aspects associated with such concept. On the basis of analysis as carried out, it is also evaluated that there are risks and challenges associated with the concept of sustainable marketing, and the possibility of attaining comparative advantage is higher. Finally, the role of social media has been identified as significant in promoting sustainable marketing practices within businesses.
Brockett, A. and Rezaee, Z. (2012), ‘ Corporate Sustainability: Integrating Performance and Reporting’, John Wiley & Sons.
Blewitt, J. (2012), ‘Understanding Sustainable Development’, Routledge.
Crittenden, V.L., Crittenden, W.F., Ferrell, L. and Pinney, C.C. (2011), ‘Market-oriented sustainability: a conceptual framework and propositions’, International Journal of Academic Marketing Science, Vol. 39, pp. 71-85.
Chhabra, D. (2010), ‘Sustainable Marketing of Cultural and Heritage Tourism’, Routledge.
Doppelt, B. (2003). Leading Change Towards Sustainability: A Change Management Guide. Greenleaf Publishing. Pp. 169.
Dunphy, D. C. (2000). Sustainability: The Corporate Challenge of the 21st Century. Allen & Unwin. Pp. 19.
Dato-on, M.C. (2014), ‘The Sustainable Global Marketplace: Proceedings of the 2011 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference’, Springer.
Gonzalez-Perez, M. and Leonard, L. (2013), ‘International Business, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility’, Emerald Group Publishing.
Hawkes, J. (2001). The fourth pillar of sustainability: culture's essential role in public planning. Common Ground. Pp. 25.
Idowu, S.O. and Filhom, W.L. (2008), ‘Global Practices of Corporate Social Responsibility’, Springer.
Marketing Principles for Sustainable Businesses, (2010) [Online]. Available at: https://www.sus-bus.com/green-marketing-in-sustainable-business/ [Accessed: 20 March 2015].
Ottman, J. (2011). Toyota’s Prius: Different Strokes for Different Folks [Online]. Available at: https://www.greenmarketing.com/blog/comments/toyotas-prius-different-strokes-for-different-folks/ [Accessed: 20 March 2015].
Sahay, B.S. (2006), Green Business, Allied Publishers.
The complex history of sustainability timeline, (2009) [Online]. Available at: https://sustainabilityreloaded.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/the-complex-history-of-sustainability-timeline/ [Accessed: 20 March 2015].
Visser, W., Matten, D., Pohl, M. and Tolhurst, N. (2010), The A to Z of Corporate Social Responsibility, 2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons.
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