In today’s business landscape, sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a necessity. As consumers become more environmentally and socially conscious, sustainability in marketing is increasingly essential for businesses to meet their demands.
March is B Corp month, and what better way to celebrate it than by highlighting how important B Corps are for business, people, and the planet? As a B Corp marketing agency focusing on sustainable marketing every day, we’re constantly impressed by how this model generates excellent profits while protecting the earth and those living there.
In this blog post, we will discuss sustainability in marketing, why it matters, its benefits, and the concept of B Corps. We’ll also highlight some incredible B Corps that excel in sustainable marketing. You’ll be amazed at how much can be done when you align profit with the planet.
What is Sustainable Marketing?
Sustainable marketing is the practice of promoting products or services to address social and environmental concerns while meeting the target audience’s needs. It involves incorporating sustainable practices throughout the entire marketing process, from product design and development to marketing communications and promotions. This holistic approach considers the long-term impact on the environment and society, aiming to create a better world for future generations.
Why Does Sustainable Marketing Matter?
Sustainable marketing enormously impacts how you market products and services while supporting communities and being mindful of how your actions affect the world around you. Here are some of the reasons why it’s so powerful.
Consumers are increasingly seeking sustainable products and companies that align with their values.
New Harris Poll research commissioned by Google Cloud revealed that:
- 82% of shoppers want a consumer brand’s values to align with their own
- Most of today’s consumers (52%) are especially interested in supporting sustainable brands. They want to know how companies manage their resources, specifically whether they are sourcing responsibly.
- 66% of shoppers are now seeking out eco-friendly brands, with 55% saying they would pay more for more sustainable products.
By adopting sustainable marketing practices, businesses can attract and retain these environmentally and socially conscious consumers.
Sustainability in marketing helps reduce the negative impact of business operations on the environment, including pollution, waste, and depletion of natural resources. This approach is crucial for the long-term health of our planet.
According to The Guardian, only 100 companies contribute 71% of global emissions. Businesses can contribute to creating a livable planet by cutting emissions and waste; now is the time to become part of the solution! And, as per the Paris Climate Accord, businesses can generate a significant impact by cutting 60% of emissions by 2030.
As governments around the world introduce stricter environmental and social regulations, sustainable marketing can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and avoid potential fines or legal issues.
These stricter regulations were already seen in 2022 with new regulations like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Environmental Justice program. Still, we can expect it to be another busy year for EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and state regulators in 2023, especially since EPA’s enforcement and compliance program is committed to increasing the percentage of annual on-site inspections in underserved and overburdened communities from 30 to 55 percent by FY 2026. More surprisingly, it surpassed its goal in 2022, achieving 56% of on-site inspections.
Consumers increasingly seek companies prioritizing sustainability as they become more aware of environmental and social issues. A McKinsey study shows that:
- Almost all consumers say yes when asked if they care about environmentally and ethically sustainable products, with more than 60% of the respondents saying they would be willing to pay more for a product packaged sustainably.
- Over the past five years, products making ESG-related claims averaged 28 percent cumulative growth, while those not making such claims averaged 20 percent.
Sustainability in marketing can help businesses meet these evolving consumer demands by ensuring ethical business practices throughout the entire process.
Companies that adopt sustainable marketing practices often experience long-term cost savings due to reduced resource consumption and waste management expenses. Moreover, according to Harvard Business Review, sustainable business practices are associated with more effective risk management, innovation, higher profits, lower costs, and better logistics.
The more efficiently a company manages its natural resources, such as water and energy, and the less waste it produces, the more cost savings we can achieve. One study estimated that companies experience an average internal rate of return of 27% to 80% on their low-carbon investments.
Enhanced brand reputation
People are more committed than ever to assuming sustainable lifestyles. A business’s triple-bottom-line approach can improve its image and reputation, making it more attractive to consumers, investors, and potential employees.
Why is that? Connecting with a brand through shared values transcends beyond a positive association. Instead, these shared values build emotional loyalty, creating a personal and action-oriented relationship. This case applies to people who purchase, those who invest, and the people on a team because it means everyone is working toward the same goal and a shared purpose that connects them to a brand’s story. Still, the only way to truly achieve this is by being transparent about the processes and impact of the brand through honest reporting and results. That’s what will genuinely show credibility and build trust.
The Benefits of Sustainable Marketing
Sustainable marketing can have many benefits for the world, as well as for business owners, investors, and employees. The truth is that with sustainable brands, everybody wins, which makes them so attractive! But what exactly are those benefits? Here we list some of them:
Increased brand loyalty
By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, companies can build strong relationships with customers, leading to increased brand loyalty and long-term profitability. It’s not just about building loyalty through values and shared goals but about rewarding them for sustainable-centric actions. You’ll amplify your mission through loyalty!
Offer valued customers a personalized, relevant experience that makes them feel valued and aligns them with a larger mission. You’ll be able to generate engagement and customer retention while driving positive change.
Sustainable marketing can help businesses differentiate themselves from competitors, allowing them to stand out in the marketplace and gain market share.
The McKinsey study pointed out that over the past five years, products making ESG-related claims averaged 28 percent cumulative growth, while those not making such claims averaged 20 percent. This growth also aligns with the fact that shoppers and consumers are more inclined to purchase products that stand by values and focus on eco-friendly practices. If they had both options in hand, 60% or more would likely be inclined to choose the eco-friendly alternative.
Pursuing sustainability often drives businesses to develop new products, services, and processes, fostering a culture of innovation. New business opportunities can be created by redesigning products to meet environmental standards or social needs.
Many businesses have gone through this process of redefining who they are and what they offer by listening to and understanding consumer needs. Recognizing the growing consumer interest in sustainable products and looking to solve consumer challenges such as energy consumption, minimizing waste, and avoiding pollution, can lead businesses to develop new alternatives people didn’t imagine possible before.
Employees are more likely to be motivated and committed to a company that shares their values and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability. A report by NEEF (National Environmental Education Foundation) uncovered that “nearly 90% of employees engaged in their company’s sustainability work say it enhances their job satisfaction and overall feelings about the company”.
When you share a common goal with employees, you provide a more profound sense of purpose and make them feel like they can do good through their daily work. This inspires them to be more creative, engaged, and proactive while it motivates them to be ambassadors for sustainability in the process.
What is a B Corp?
A B Corp, or Benefit Corporation, is a type of for-profit company with a triple bottom line approach that balances the interests of shareholders with those of society and the environment. To become a certified B Corp, a company must meet rigorous social and environmental performance standards, transparency, and accountability.
B Corps aim to redefine success in business by using its profits and growth as a means to create a positive impact on the world.
B Corps Embracing Sustainability In Marketing
Now that you know what’s a B Corp, you’re probably wondering if there are any brands you’ve used in the past that belong to this type of business. You’ll be amazed to find that some incredible brands you already love are B Corps. Regardless of the size of the company o how well-known they are, B Corps of all shapes and sizes are doing incredible things to make this world a more beautiful, just, and sustainable place to live in. These are just some of the thousands of examples that inspire business as a force for good.
Outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia is a pioneer in sustainable marketing. They prioritize using recycled materials, promote fair labor practices, donate a portion of their profits to environmental causes, and fund grassroots environmental groups. Their marketing campaigns often raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage sustainable living.
One notable campaign was their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” advertisement, which urged consumers to think twice about their purchases and consider the environmental impact during one of the most overconsuming and unsustainable days of the year, Black Friday. Patagonia also actively encourages customers to repair, recycle, and resell their products through the “Worn Wear” program.
Ben & Jerry’s
This iconic ice cream company uses sustainability in marketing to promote its commitment to social and environmental responsibility. They source fair trade ingredients, support local communities, and advocate for climate justice. Their marketing campaigns often feature partnerships with nonprofits and social justice organizations.
For example, the “Save Our Swirled” campaign focused on climate change, while the “Empower Mint” flavor promoted voting rights. By integrating these causes into their marketing, Ben & Jerry’s creates a strong connection between their products and the issues they care most about.
This women’s clothing brand has embraced sustainable marketing by promoting its commitment to ethical manufacturing, responsible sourcing, and waste reduction. Eileen Fisher’s “Renew” program encourages customers to return used clothing for recycling or resale, further solidifying its position as a sustainable fashion leader.
Their “Waste No More” initiative aims to repurpose used garments, while the “Tiny Factory” focuses on local, small-batch production. By highlighting these efforts in their marketing, Eileen Fisher attracts eco-conscious consumers and sparks a larger conversation about sustainable fashion.
Seventh Generation, a household and personal care products company, is committed to creating a healthier planet through its products and marketing. They transparently share their sustainability goals, ingredient sourcing, and product impact.
In 2016, they launched the “Come Clean” campaign, which pushed for greater transparency in the cleaning products industry. Seventh Generation educates consumers about the importance of environmentally friendly choices using sustainable marketing initiatives and supports and encourages customer support related to climate justice activism.
Method, a cleaning products company, is another B Corp using sustainable marketing to make a difference. They create non-toxic, biodegradable, and cruelty-free products packaged in recycled plastic. Their eye-catching designs and bold marketing campaigns reflect their commitment to sustainability and their fun, creative personality.
For example, the “Ocean Plastic” campaign showcased bottles made from plastic waste collected from the ocean, raising awareness about plastic pollution and the need for a circular economy.
Sustainability in marketing is not only good for the planet, but it also makes good business sense. As these B Corps demonstrate, embracing sustainable marketing can help companies connect with consumers, foster brand loyalty, and differentiate themselves in the marketplace. By integrating environmental and social values into marketing strategies and web development, businesses can drive positive change and inspire others to do the same.
As consumers become increasingly aware of their choices’ impact on the environment, they will continue seeking brands that align with their values. B Corps are leading the way in this regard, proving that companies can be profitable and responsible. We can all contribute to a more sustainable future by supporting and learning from these mission-aligned businesses. Join the movement!
Interested in discovering how sustainable marketing could change your business? Schedule a session with our team!