What happened to sustainable marketing?

Sustainable Marketing

Why is sustainability back on the marketing agenda?

It seems like just a few years ago, sustainable marketing was a hot topic. Then things went very quiet for a while. I found this curious, as sustainability was increasingly being considered as a pillar of corporate social responsibility.

It appeared that while the boardroom was making progress, marketing had stalled somewhat and had other priorities. One CMO suggested to me that the problem might lie with the consumer. That there was not enough customer benefit in sustainability, when economic pressures were growing

So, have things changed? Well, many commentators believe so.

Ethics, sustainability, trust and transparency have been flagged up by Mintel as key themes set to impact consumer trends in 2018.

Plastic pollution seem to have attracted public attention in contrast to the, ‘What’s in it for me?’ principle.

Consumers are putting their money where their mouths are – literally.

Ethical food and drink enjoyed a 9.7% growth last year while conventional foods struggled. According to Ethical Consumer’s Markets Report 2017.

Vegitarianism and veganism are on the rise for ethical regions, according to a YouGov survey.

Unilever – making it work

Amongst most persuasive data comes from Unilever. They suggest that brands are missing out on £820 billion by not pushing sustainability. This goes beyond research. Unilever’s 10-year sustainable living project is turning research and theory into strategic action.

Sustainable Living brands were in Unilever’s top 40 selling brands in 2016. They enjoyed 50% faster growth compared to the rest of business and delivered 60% of Unilever’s growth in the same period.

The Five ‘E’s

So, what do we understand by sustainable marketing and what can we do?  We should begin by addressing five principles – I define them by the Five ‘E’s.

  1. Environment – impact upon the environment in which the brand operates
  2. Ecology – impact upon the planet and its resources
  3. Economy – impact upon both the local and global economy
  4. Ethnography – impact upon peoples and their cultures
  5. Ethics – sustainable ethical and moral practices


Ian West

CEO One Marketing Ltd.

Ian West