Sustainable Marketing

A Win for Business > A Win for the Customer > A Win for our Planet


If you’re committed to sustainable marketing practices, there is good news. Not only are they good for the health of our planet and our people, they are what customers now demand – and they are good for the long term profitability of business.

Here’s a sample of some up-to-date research on sustainable marketing and customer demands.

What is sustainable marketing?

Sustainable marketing is marketing that is focused on improving environmental wellness, social inclusion and equity, and economic responsibility, while delivering profit to the business. It’s about ensuring businesses are driven by a purpose that goes beyond simply making money.


Is sustainable marketing a costly exercise for business?

It is true that sustainable marketing MAY come at a cost in the short term, but in the longer term, it can be highly profitable.

A Deloitte study from 2019 showed that purpose-driven companies achieved higher market share gains and grew on average three times faster than their competitors, while at the same time achieving higher staff and customer satisfaction.


Why is having a ‘purpose beyond profit’ good for business?

Extensive research tells us that today’s consumer wants to buy from companies that stand for more than the products they sell. They want their brands to have a purpose.

An Accenture study in 2018 found:

  • 63% of consumers prefer to buy from companies whose purpose reflects their own values and beliefs.
  • 62% want companies to take a stand on matters they care about in relation to the environment, social and cultural issues and politics.


What attracts a consumer to a brand other than price and quality?

The 2018 Accenture study found:

  • 66% said brand culture – how a brand delivers on its promises
  • 66% said transparency
  • 65% said they were attracted by brands that treat their employees well
  • 62% said they supported companies that believe in reducing plastics and improving the environment
  • 62% also said they look for ethical values and brands that are authentic.


How important is authenticity in sustainable marketing?

Today’s consumer is highly informed, highly demanding and driven by more than just price, product quality and convenience. They will not accept greenwashing and require claims to be able to be substantiated.

  • 53% of consumers who are disappointed by a brand’s words or actions on a social issue will complain.
  • 47% will walk away from the brand in frustration
  • 17% will never return.


Do today’s consumers take sustainability into account when buying a product?

An IBM study on consumer behaviour in 2020 revealed:

  • Nearly 57% of consumers would be willing to change their shopping habits to reduce the impact on the environment.
  • Nearly 80% said that sustainability was important to them.


But are consumers willing to pay a premium for sustainable products?

For those who say sustainability is very or extremely important to them, over 70% said they would be willing to pay a premium of 35%.


What sustainable attributes are they willing to pay a premium for?

  • Greater health and wellness benefits
  • Simplifying their lives (getting back to basics)
  • Organic ingredients
  • Supporting recycling
  • Authenticity of the products
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Full transparency such as on sourcing materials, ingredients and information on the supply chain.


Are all generations willing to pay a premium for sustainable products?

A Global Sustainability Study in July 2021 found:

  • 42% of Gen Y would accept a premium of around 31%
  • 39% of Gen Z would accept a premium of 32%
  • 31% of Gen X were willing to pay a premium of 21%
  • 26% of Baby Boomers would pay up to 14%.


Are people actually taking action to become more sustainable?

A Deloitte study in March 2021 in the UK showed that:

  • 61% of consumers had cut back on the use of single use plastics
  • 45% were buying local
  • 39% were buying less new goods
  • 34% were choosing brands that were committed to environmentally sustainable practices.


What are the reasons for people not adopting a more sustainable lifestyle?

  • 22% were not interested
  • 16% thought it would be too expensive
  • 15% did not have enough information
  • 10% believed that their actions would not make any difference.


Is this research relevant to Australia?

According to a Finders Green Report in 2021, Australians seem to adopting sustainable practices even more readily than in the UK. The research showed:

  • Only 14% of our population are doing nothing to reduce their carbon footprint
  • Of these, 9% aren’t interested and 5% think it’s too expensive.


How do businesses implement sustainable marketing practices?

Whatever sector you are in, consider these general guidelines:

  • Work with your customers, employees and other stakeholders to deliver on your shared values. Collaborate to make a difference and communicate your joint achievements.
  • Be authentic. Communicate your measurable goals and where you are on your journey. It’s okay not to be perfect now.
  • Be transparent in your messaging. Consumers often feel they don’t have the information they need to make sustainable purchasing decisions so clearly explain environmental benefits on product labels or websites. Don’t use broad terms such as ‘natural’, ‘recyclable’ or ‘low carbon’ without explaining facts behind the claim.
  • Apologise when you get it wrong. With all good intentions, brands will get things wrong when aiming to be sustainable so be upfront and you will be forgiven.
  • Be vocal about issues that matter to your customers. Be authentic in standing up for issues, even if that means collaborating with your competition.
  • Take action on issues that matter to your customers. Show your customers that you do more than simply ‘talk’ by sharing information on your actions.
  • Educate your customers. ‘Lack of knowledge’ is a key reason why consumers don’t buy sustainable products so don’t assume they understand why they should buy from you. Inspire them with real facts on how their adoption of sustainable practices and purchases will actually have a beneficial impact on the world.
  • Make your customer the centre-point of your storytelling about your sustainability efforts. Talk about how your customer is changing the world by their sustainable purchasing decisions and make them feel good about the choices they have made.

If you’d like to discuss your marketing strategy and communication needs, please contact us for a free initial consultation.