Many businesses attempt to navigate today's economic landscape using the same old marketing gimmicks. It just won't work. Today's organizations need to understand marketing sustainability and how to utilize it.
Frank-Martin Belz and Ken Peattie, authors of Sustainability Marketing, note, "Conventional marketing thought and practice have struggled to adapt to a world that we now realize could be destroyed (or at least impaired to the impoverishment of us all) by unconstrained consumption as we strive to satisfy an ever-longer list of wants for an ever-growing global consumer class." Given these perimeters, the average individual would argue that marketing sustainability must be an oxymoron. Marketing is about meeting customers' needs and wants.
Phillip Kotler and Kevin Keller, authors of Marketing Management, suggest the importance of marketing to buyers: "Many people want a Mercedes; only a few are able to buy one. Companies must measure not only how many people want their product, but also how many are willing and able to buy it... Therefore, businesses must connect with customers in other to convince them to purchase."
However, some people would suggest marketing involves the mass consumptions of goods and services at any cost.
With the depletion of natural resources and the ever growing population demands from such countries as China and India, many experts worry that the world is headed for a train wreck unless something changes. Governments race to find new energy sources while businesses search the world for cheaper labor and lesser costs for producing their products.
Consequently, more and more organizations recognize that sustainability is more than keeping the environment clean. Yet, the concept of sustainability is often difficult to define. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is defined as "everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment." Consequently, one person may view sustainability simply as the ability to use resources continuously without any long-term depletion. Andres Edwards, author of The Sustainability Revolution, breaks down sustainability into several key components, which are: ecology/environment, economy/employment, equity/equality, and education.
Marketing sustainability focuses on the triple factors of ecological, social, and economical in harmony. The managerial approach of sustainability marketing encompasses several key elements, which include (a) socio-ecological problems, (b) consumer behavior, (c) sustainability marketing values and objectives, (d) sustainability marketing strategies, (e) sustainability marketing mix, and (f) sustainability marketing transformations.
Belz and Peattie further maintain, "The point of departure in sustainability marketing is an understanding of social and environmental problems in general (macro level) and an analysis of the social and ecological impact of corporate products in particular (micro level)... To implement sustainability marketing strategies, a comprehensive marketing mix has to be developed." In fact, marketing sustainability then relates to an organization's ability to balance environmental, social, and economic factors in order to be successful over the long-run.
However, some business executives quietly argue that profitability supercedes many other priorities, such as the environment. Edwards disagrees: "Creating a healthy environment, free of pollution and toxic waste, and simultaneously providing the basic for a dynamic economy that will endure for an extended period are viewed as complementary rather than conflicting endeavors."