Sustainable marketing is socially and environmentally responsible marketing that meets the present needs of consumers and business while also preserving or enhancing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Only satisfying consumers’ immediate needs, does not always serve the future best interest of either customers or the business. The sustainable marketing concepts considers both strategic planning and societal marketing.
Marketing receives much criticism. Many critics say that marketing causes prices to be higher, because of three reasons. The high costs of intermediaries in the distribution channel lead to price increases, as well as high advertising and promotion costs and excessive mark-ups. There is also criticism of deceptive practices. These can be because of deceptive pricing, deceptive promotion and deceptive packaging. Deceptive practices have led to legislation and other consumer protection actions.
Salespeople are sometimes accused of high-pressure selling, because they persuade people to buy goods these consumers did not really wanted before. Another criticism concerns poor product quality or function. Some companies have been accused of planned obsolescence, causing their products to become obsolete on purpose, so that they need replacement. A final piece of criticism is that of poor service to disadvantaged consumers.
Marketing also has an impact on society as a whole. Critics state that marketing is the cause of creating false wants and materialism, of which the industry benefits but not so much the customers. Businesses have also been accused of overselling private goods at the expense of public goods. Marketing also supposedly led to the creation of cultural pollution. Because of constant advertising, people’s minds are polluted with these messages.
Marketing also has an impact on other businesses. There are three big problems involved: acquisition of competitors, marketing practices that create barriers to entry and unfair competitive marketing practices.
Consumerism is an organised movement of citizens and government agencies to improve the rights and power of buyers in relation to sellers. Traditional seller rights include:
- The right to introduce any product.
- The right to charge any price for a product, provided there is no discrimination.
- The right to send any amount on promotion, if it is not unfair.
- The right to use any product message, provided it is not misleading.
- The right to use buying incentive programmes, if they are not misleading.
Traditional buyers rights include:
- The right not buy a product that is offered for sale.
- The right to expect the product to be safe.
- The right to expect the product to perform as claimed.
Consumer advocates also call for additional consumer rights:
- The right to be well informed.
- The right to be protected against questionable products.
- The right to influence products and marketing practices in ways that improve quality of life.
- The right to consume in a way that will preserve the world for future generations.
Environmentalism is an organised movement of concerned citizens and government agencies to protect and improve people’s current and future living environment. Modern environmentalists are not against marketing, but just want people and organisations to operate with more care for the environment.
Environmental sustainability is a management approach that involves developing strategies that both sustain the environment and produce profits for the company. Environmental sustainability involves preserving the natural environment, while marketing sustainability involves both the natural and social environments. There are generally four forms of environmental sustainability.
- Pollution prevention: eliminating or reducing waste before creation.
- Product stewardship: minimising environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle process.
- New clean technology: developing new sets of environmental skills and capabilities.
- Sustainability vision: creating a strategic framework for future sustainability.
In today’s world, environmental issues are high on the awareness list, but environmental policies still vary widely from country to country. Marketers must take responsibility for sustainable marketing.
There are five sustainable marketing principles:
- Consumer-oriented marketing: a principle of sustainable marketing that holds a company should view and organise its marketing activities from the consumer’s point of view.
- Customer value marketing: a principle of sustainable marketing that holds a company should put most of its resources into consumer value building marketing investments.
- Innovative marketing: a principle of sustainable marketing that requires a company to seek real product and marketing improvements.
- Sense–of-mission marketing: a principle of sustainable that holds a company should define its mission in broad social terms rather than narrow products terms.
- Societal marketing: a principle of sustainable marketing that holds a company should make marketing decisions by considering consumers’ wants, the company’s requirements, consumer’s long-term interests and society’s long term interests.
Sustainable marketing calls for products that are not only pleasing, but also beneficial. Products can be classified according to their degree of satisfaction and long term benefit. Deficient products are products that have neither immediate appeal, nor long term benefits. Pleasing products are products that give high immediate satisfaction, but may damage the consumer in the long term. Salutary products are products that have low appeal but may benefit the consumers in the long term. Desirable products are products that give both high immediate satisfaction and high long-term benefits.
Good ethics are important in sustainable marketing. Increasingly, companies are responding to need for guidelines of marketing ethics. Guidelines can’t resolve all the ethical decisions that firms must make, but there are some general principles that can be applied. Ethical norms for marketers include “do not harm”, “foster trust in the marketing system” and “embrace ethical values”. Ethical values include honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect, transparency and citizenship.
The core of marketing is that firms will fulfil the needs of their customers. Sustainability goes beyond the needs of today’s customers, but means having concern for tomorrow’s customers as well.