By Linda Irwin and Abigail B. Schneider –
As businesses adjust management practices to reflect a world where resources are finite and continued growth is unsustainable, what is the role and responsibility of marketing? The practice of marketing traditionally benefits organizations by delivering revenue and profit through the promotion and selling of products. And it leverages customer data to more efficiently reach and communicate with customer segments. But what is the role of marketing when people, by choice or necessity, reduce consumption of new goods? How does marketing provide sustainable returns for an organization without depleting natural resources or creating waste? Can marketing create value while also reducing the proliferation of products and promotion?
The purpose of this article is to transcend existing definitions of marketing and provide a new marketing paradigm where marketing delivers sustained value to customers, business, and society in the context of a rapidly changing economy and environment. While a significant body of extant research and case studies focus on sustainable business management practices, few directly connect marketing strategies and practices to those initiatives. This article builds on sustainability research and demonstrates how the marketing function can be a key leverage point for achieving success measures within an organization, solving problems for customers, and proactively contributing to society by reducing the consumption of resources and intentionally striving for zero environmental impact.
Overproduction, overconsumption, and overpromotion, often the result of traditional marketing practices, are major contributors to environmental degradation and waste.
Marketing strategies and practices, if redefined, serve as key leverage points for the development of a regenerative economy.
Marketers can create sustained value for an organization by using an integrated systems approach to intentionally incorporate benefits to society when solving customer problems.
Marketers can create value for society and the environment by implementing a marketing paradigm that incorporates the UN Ten Principles of sustainability.
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