In 2015, 196 countries signed a treaty on climate change to limit global temperature increase (compared to pre-industrial times) to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This was the famous Paris Agreement.
Unfortunately, according to the UN, we are rapidly inching closer to that mark, with the rise at 1.1 degrees Celsius in 2021. At this stage, 30% of the world’s population is now experiencing deadly heat waves for about 20 days a year.
What causes climate crises such as this?
Significant contributors include greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, pollution, overpopulation, etc. But the situation isn’t yet a problem we can’t win. We will need to act while we still have time. Conservation.org even says this is the price tag attached to it – $140 billion per year or below 0.2% of the global GDP.
Moves encouraging sustainable practices by businesses and governments can be game-changing here, as it drives a collective effect. Many companies and individuals are already engaged in the fight against the climate crisis.
Here is where sustainability marketing can help.
Humans use resources from the earth to function in a social and economic environment. Sustainable living is the balanced way to carry this out without exploitation or depletion on either side. Therefore, it goes beyond environmental concerns alone (a subset of sustainability marketing called green marketing focuses exclusively on such matters). This way of life also promotes socio-economic balance for people in the world.
Sustainability marketing encourages such practices by promoting products and services that can help improve the situation further. For example, a soft-drink company can use recycled bottles to advertise this aspect of their work. For eco-friendly brands, it appears like an easy and obvious route. But other businesses can also adopt it by supporting the mission rather than placing importance on the commercial side. But why should they do this? The main reason is the alarming state of our environment and social conditions.
Other motives can be obvious from these findings:
In 2020, IBM studied 18,980 consumers in 28 countries to learn how their personal values affect brand choice. 40-45% of the participants marked sustainability, recycling, and using organic material as important attributes they look for while deciding what to buy. Another study by an environment tech company called GreenPrint was conducted in 2021 by surveying a nationally representative sample of over 1000 individuals in America. The findings reported that 77% of Americans are concerned about the environmental impact of the products bought and that 75% of Millennials are willing to pay extra for an eco-friendly product.
These studies show the significant importance consumers place on sustainable practices. Companies can leverage this information to incorporate the sustainability element into their products and services. But to achieve this, they must embrace helpful activities and consider implementing sustainability marketing strategies on various channels such as social media.
Here are some strategies to adopt in sustainability marketing:
According to a 2022 report by the Sustainability Institute by ERM, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations now have a prominent place in investment decisions. The report says that “One in every three dollars of global assets under management is already invested in a fund or strategy that in some way integrates ESG considerations”. It shows that the economic impact of sustainable practices is not one to undermine. Changing the perception of these practices held by companies can help – do not view them as extra or noble efforts but as competitive advantages and responsibilities.
Here are some more positive effects to make a case for sustainability marketing:
Why Sustainability Marketing Is Good For Your Business
Greenwashing is a phenomenon businesses must be cautioned about, as it can adversely affect the brands. It occurs when the projection of sustainability is far more than the actions taken for the positive practices. But in the current demographic, where Gen Z is the largest group of consumers, organizations should be careful not to make blown-up or false claims, as they are tech-savvy customers who can call out companies for not being ethical. Many big names like Starbucks have fallen prey to this.
In 2018, they launched a straw-less lid, claiming to reduce the use of plastic. But as it turned out, the new lid had more plastic than the old straw+lid combination. When the company responded that the material used was a recyclable variety called polypropylene, critics dismissed the claim by saying that only 9% of the world’s plastic is ever recycled. Moreover, the US passes on 33% of its recycling to third-world countries, putting the responsibility on developing nations. Therefore, this was a bad move by Starbucks, which the people called out quickly. Other brands such as Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, and Nestle have faced similar challenges.
You can avoid greenwashing by following these principles:
The advantages of sustainability marketing can inspire organizations to adopt good practices. Implementing such actions on a mass scale will benefit the planet. As explained in the article, the competitors will eventually follow the same path when it becomes a competitive edge for one brand. This creates a win-win situation for both the businesses and the environment.
Companies can benefit well into the future and have a healthier planet for sustainable growth. It will be the way to avoid the scary predictions released by bodies such as the UN every year. Only our actions right now have the power to prevent them from becoming a reality.