The Complete Guide to Sustainable Marketing

Is sustainable marketing just BS? Get your guide to sustainable marketing to see why consumers say it’s a top priority.

Guide to Sustainable Marketing

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Studies have found that consumers are actively prioritizing sustainability when shopping.

Sustainability is much more than the latest buzzword, it is a trend that’s here to stay. The pressure on businesses to become more sustainable is not only coming from consumers, but from governments, too. As sustainability is becoming an ever more important value for brands across almost every industry, sustainable marketing is also becoming a top priority.


Having a sustainable brand is great, but in order to receive all potential value from your ethical company values, you need to be able to share your sustainable vision with your customers. Sustainable marketing is an essential practice to ensure you are able to receive all possible benefits from your environmentally friendly efforts.


What Is Sustainable Marketing?


Many brands are making a concerted effort to reduce the environmental impact of their operations and to create more sustainable products. This effort to become more sustainable is, of course, hugely commendable, but in order to receive the potential benefit from these efforts, you need to be able to communicate your sustainable endeavors with your target market.


Sustainable marketing is the effective communication of the environmentally friendly and socially conscious choices that a brand is making. This effort can both be at an individual product level, to illustrate the reduced environmental impact of a product, and on a brand identity level, to recast the brand in a more sustainable light.


Sustainability has never been a more important priority for businesses than it is today.

In fact, one recent study that surveyed people from five different countries, including the UK and USA, found that one-third of consumers are actively seeking brands that are sustainable.


As consumers are waking up to the power of where they choose to spend their money, it is vital that brands embrace sustainability, both as a core value and a key marketing priority, in order to avoid being left behind.


Understanding the History of Green Marketing


The term green marketing has been around since the 1980s, although it was not seen to be utilized by familiar brands until the end of the decade. One of the most famous brands that first prioritized green marketing was the ice-cream company, Ben and Jerry’s. Their commitment to ‘sell a lot of ice cream while building on a better world’ is reflected in their history of fighting for climate justice.

Green is so relevant today that it is affecting all aspects of business from packaging to logistics.

The reality is that there are many things that companies can do to change their behavior and be kinder to the environment. Sustainable packaging is at the forefront of this. Customers prefer products that come in sustainable packaging, and there are now many trends that companies are adopting to meet that demand.

What are Green Logistics?

Green logistics means minimizing the environmental impact usually associated with the shipping process. Green logistics practices manage everything from waste disposal, packing and recycling, to reduction of energy output and fuel consumption – making them more eco-friendly at every step of the process.  There are a few practical ways businesses have been investing in green logistics, all easy to implement and inexpensive, letting you pass the savings on to the customer.

While some famous brands, like Ben and Jerry’s, took up green marketing early, it did not become a mainstream focus until more recently.

The Difference Between Green Marketing and Green Washing

It is very important that you understand the difference between sustainable, green marketing and greenwashing.

While the terms sustainable marketing and green marketing refer to the efforts of marketing to illustrate the environmental and sustainable efforts a company is making, greenwashing is much less authentic.


The term greenwashing refers to the use of misleading information about a company’s operations or products to create a false impression of its environmental impact. Sometimes referred to as a ‘green sheen,’ the practice is an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for sustainable products, without making any attempts to become more environmentally friendly.


Not only is greenwashing unethical, but it can also result in a great deal of reputational damage and customer backlash, as many large brands that participated in greenwashing have found. Those examples illustrate the need for companies to back up all the claims they make in sustainable marketing with easily verifiable information.


What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Marketing?


The benefits of sustainable marketing are numerous and will differ slightly depending on your industry and individual brand identity. However, the list below outlines just a few of the most common benefits of sustainable marketing.


Increases Brand Desirability


As consumers are actively seeking out the most sustainable option, sustainable marketing is one of the most effective ways of making your brand more desirable to the modern-day consumer. This, in turn, will increase the return on your marketing spend, as consumers are more susceptible to your marketing efforts.


Stand Out From the Competition


If you are operating in an industry with a high level of competition, sustainable marketing is one of the best ways to help your brand stand out. Showcasing your sustainable efforts will define your brand as environmentally and socially conscious.


Increase Brand Visibility


Sustainable marketing is one of the easiest ways to effectively communicate your brand values and identity with potential customers. This can help you to stand out in a crowded marketplace and increase your brand awareness.


Boost Brand Loyalty


Everyone in business knows that it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Sustainable marketing can be used to increase brand loyalty, like shopping with your brand allows customers to themselves feel more socially and environmentally conscious, increasing the positive feedback loop of your sales. As Eleven Marketing explains, sustainable marketing can also increase customer trust, which in turn, boost brand loyalty. 


Make More Premium Products


Studies have found that 66% of consumers would be happy to make more for sustainable products. This means that embracing sustainable marketing is a great way to rebrand yourself to offer a premium product line.


Attract the Top Talent


It is not just consumers that are actively seeking out sustainable brands, but employees, too. Marketing yourself as a sustainable business is a great way to win the top talent in your industry, as many people would prefer to work with sustainable brands.


If you are a sustainable business you need to be using sustainable marketing. While having environmentally and socially conscious brand values is all well and good, in order to take your business to the next level you should be looking to benefit from these conscious priorities.


The trend for sustainability is not going anywhere, in fact, as the biggest proponents of sustainability seem to be Millennials and Generation Z, as these groups begin to have more buying power, there will be a big push in businesses embracing sustainability. Using sustainable marketing allows you to get in, slightly, ahead of the rush, increasing the possible value you will receive from sustainable marketing practices.