What is Sustainable Marketing? Definition & Principles

What is Sustainable Marketing? Definition & Principles

For any business, sustainability is always something that people aim for. In marketing, implementing a sustainable marketing strategy is not an easy thing. Marketers need to understand the essence of this strategy and why businesses should pursue sustainable marketing. Sustainable marketing is the “next big thing” in the marketing world. It’s not just about taking care of Mother Earth, it also has a significant impact on your bottom line. Above all, what sustainable marketing principles can help businesses grow quickly and attract customers? There are many ways to incorporate sustainable practices into businesses and this blog post will introduce you to some of them.

What is sustainable Marketing?

What is sustainable Marketing?

Sustainable marketing is the practice of thinking about the environmental and social implications of your business, in addition to financial aspects. It was born out of a realization that many companies were not considering the long-term effects they had on everything from their employees and customers to environmental resources like water, fuel, and even food ingredients. This insight led some companies to consider the eco-friendliness of their product and service choices. It also led them to implement sustainable practices in their business, such as recycling and energy-efficiency programs.

Understanding sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing does not just mean that your company invests in green products or organic materials; sustainable marketing means that you consider the impact your decisions have on the environment, employees, communities, and more. For example, if you are creating a marketing campaign for your company’s product or service, then you would need to consider not just the impact that it has on potential customers but also how it affects the supply chain (and by proxy your employees), any waste produced in manufacturing/distribution/sales, and the environment.

Sustainable marketing is about thinking long-term. You do not just think about what you will gain from your product or service in the next quarter, but also about its impact for years to come. It also means that you think beyond your own business - you want to consider the consequences of your decisions on the environment, communities, and even future generations.

Why is sustainable marketing important?

Currently, brands are making efforts to become more environmentally friendly and contribute more to social development through sustainable marketing activities. Here are a few reasons why sustainable marketing is increasingly important to your business:

1. Customers are increasingly interested in the sustainability of products

The sustainability of a product is the values, benefits or positive effects that the product brings to customers and the community in the long term. A study has shown that 47% of consumers leave brands that do not have a sustainability perspective, of which 17% of consumers never return. And 8 out of 10 consumers care about product sustainability. Not only in the country but all over the world, people are gradually paying attention to the effects of lifestyle on the community and the environment.

Customers are increasingly interested in the sustainability of products

In addition, the awareness of protecting the surrounding environment has been affecting the thinking and consumption behavior of customers. Therefore, a sustainable marketing method also becomes more important to the success of the business and plays a role in the development of the brand.

2. Sustainable Marketing helps to increase brand awareness

Sustainable Marketing helps to increase brand awareness

Usually, when choosing a product, customers will first associate the brands they like. If a brand is associated with a sustainable marketing strategy, that brand will easily be noticed and accepted by the community. Since then, customers also have sympathy for the brand and associate with the brand more. Besides, the frequency of customers mentioning the brand is also more and positive comments can help the brand be known and loved by many people.

3. Sustainable Marketing contributes to a more positive community change

Sustainable Marketing contributes to a more positive community change

In fact, Sustainable Marketing requires businesses to be responsible as citizens. Marketing activities must not only promote the image and communicate the brand, but also have a humane meaning, spread positive messages, protect the environment in the long term and minimize harm to the environment. For that reason, Sustainable Marketing helps each customer understand more about social responsibility and contribute to environmental protection.

4. Sustainable Marketing helps businesses reach new markets

Sustainable Marketing helps businesses reach new markets

Sustainable marketing helps businesses reach new markets - where there are customers who love environmentally friendly products. Thus, thanks to the increased number of customers and inherent loyal customers, the enterprise has an additional competitive advantage over its competitors.

Sustainable marketing can increase revenue and market share. Many businesses have found that people want to buy from companies who invest in things like recycling and green products, so they adopt sustainable practices as a form of marketing themselves.

5. Sustainable Marketing helps businesses develop long-term

Sustainable Marketing helps businesses develop long-term

Through well-thought-out, long-term strategies, solid marketing can lead to higher value products and increased customer loyalty. A sustainable marketing strategy will allow you time to establish your business and maintain sales without becoming a fad. This is also what Kevin Roberts, Former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, calls 'Lovemarks' - loyalty beyond reason. This concept involves long-term success built on principles: brand values combine consumer values.

Examples of sustainable marketing practices

There are countless ways to make your company more sustainable; here are just a few of them:

Examples of sustainable marketing practices

- Recycling programs: Many businesses have found that recycling not only cuts down on waste (and therefore costs), but can also boost company morale.

- Sustainability plans and policies: If you’re a business owner, then it’s important that your employees know what sustainability means to your company; for example, does it mean that they participate in recycling programs or try to use eco-friendly products and materials? You can even post environmental policies in public spaces like break rooms to make sure that everyone knows your commitments.

- Green energy: Choosing to use green energy sources, such as solar power or wind energy, is another important step for sustainable marketing; not only will it reduce the impact your company has on the environment and create a positive and appealing image of your company, but it can also be cost-effective.

- Green product choices: If you are creating products or purchasing them from suppliers then consider using eco-friendly options that are sustainable in themselves (like recycled materials), rather than looking for ways to make less expensive choices sustainably.

- Ethical business practices: Sustainable marketing means that you consider more than just the environmental impact of your decisions; it’s also about choosing to do business with other companies who operate ethically. For example, if your company is planning on hiring a marketing firm for an upcoming campaign, then make sure to check them out first; not only will this ensure that they are trustworthy (and therefore won’t present a danger to your business), but it will make you look good as a company that cares about these things.

Sustainable Marketing Principles

Under the sustainable marketing concept, a company’s marketing should support the best long-run performance of the marketing system. It should be guided by five sustainable marketing principles: consumer-oriented marketing, customer value marketing, innovative marketing, sense-of-mission marketing, and societal marketing.

1. Consumer-oriented marketing

Consumer-oriented marketing

This principle is based on the idea that an organization should learn everything it can about consumers and do everything in its power to provide what they want and need. In other words, means that the company should view and organize its marketing activities from the consumer’s point of view. The firm doesn't just market its products, but also find out how and why people use them. For example: Nike, focus on consumer end-user experience. The company spends considerable money and effort to provide support for people who run or play sports. For example, Nike has free training programs online where you can submit instructional questions and get helpful tips in return. 

2. Customer value marketing

Customer value marketing

Customer value marketing principle is based on the idea that a company should understand and improve the quality of its products and services over time, so that they can provide customers with greater satisfaction rather than investing most of the marketing budget on advertising and selling. Enlightened marketing calls for building long-run consumer engagement, loyalty, and relationships by continually improving the value consumers receive from the firm’s market offering. By creating value for consumers, the company can capture value from consumers in return.

3. Innovative marketing

Innovative marketing

Innovative marketing calls for a firm to constantly innovate its products and services. The company should adapt by means including new product development, market segmentation, positioning strategies, product standards and specifications, customer satisfaction, customer value packaging and delivery of goods and services. Enlightened marketers believe that the best way to achieve growth is to offer consumers something they want. In addition, a company must have the ability to market new products successfully in order to achieve sustainable marketing success over time.

4. Sense-of-mission marketing

Sense-of-mission marketing

Sense-of-mission marketing defines that a company should set out a mission in broad social terms to follow during its years of operation. Enlightened marketers rely on this principle to guide their decisions about the company’s marketing content, brand image, business model, relationships with stakeholders and strategies for innovation. The sense of mission represents a company's culture or its social responsibility. Every firm has a social responsibility in one way or another whether they are aware of it or not, and this principle helps to ensure that the social responsibilities are positive ones.

For examples:

- Johnson & Johnson’s flagship Johnson’s Babybrand dedicates itself to a mission of understanding babies and the special nurturing they require, then uses that knowledge to provide parents with safe and effective baby-care products.

- Procter & Gamble’s Tide, one of the world’s leading laundry detergents, has a strong sense of mission and works to support Habitat for Humanity and other charities.

- Mattel’s philosophy is that Mattel should help people to be happy. Their goal is to bring happiness and develop the potential of children by being their first choice in terms of toys, quality, play value, design, safety and benefits.

5. Societal marketing

Societal marketing

Societal marketing is built on the idea that a company should make decisons under the consideration on consumers’ wants, the company’s requirements, consumers’ long-run interests, and society’s long-run interests. Companies should be aware that neglecting consumer and societal long-run interests is a disservice to consumers and society. Enlightened marketers believe that a firm should be engaged with all stakeholders and consider their rights and interests. They also believe that the company has an obligation to society at large.

For example:

- The Green Giant Vegetable Company is committed to protecting the environment, so it gave up using plastic bags for its most popular 10 vegetables, instead they use biodegradable bags.

- Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo formula is specially prepared to be mild and safe for babies, but the company never compromises on quality by using synthetic fragrances or harsh chemicals that could cause skin irritation. They are committed to providing customers with high-quality products at affordable prices.

- Mattel’s philosophy is that Mattel should help people to be happy. Their goal is to bring happiness and develop the potential of children by being their first choice in terms of toys, quality, play value, design, safety and benefits.


Sustainable marketing is a hot topic in the digital age. It’s about being innovative, responsible and engaging with all stakeholders to build positive relationships that drive long-term growth for your company. The insights we have provided should help you get started thinking about how you can apply sustainable principles like societal marketing to your own business goals or strategy as an enlightened marketer.


Subscribe to be notified when new posts are publised!