Green marketing and sustainable marketing


Green and sustainable marketing center around corporate responsibility, but they differ in scope. As consumers show increased interest in organizations’ environmental and social practices, such as efforts to reduce carbon emissions and labor exploitation, many organizations have begun to change how they conduct business and market themselves. Some companies have adopted green marketing, which focuses on environmental protection. Other businesses have adopted sustainable marketing, which promotes an organization’s support for both social and environmental causes. Green and sustainable marketing can help organizations appeal to a growing base of environmentally and socially conscious consumers, employees and investors.

What is green marketing?

Green marketing is the promotion of brands and products based on their perceived level of environmental sustainability. Organizations that use green marketing aim to link their products and services with a larger environmental mission, such as climate change, to improve brand loyalty with environmentally conscious consumers. This type of marketing often focuses on specific steps organizations have taken to reduce their negative effects on the environment.

What is sustainable marketing?

Sustainable marketing is the promotion of brands and products based on their perceived level of environmental, social and governance (ESG) sustainability. This strategy focuses on social issues, such as discrimination and workplace conditions, in addition to environmental issues. Sustainable marketing also focuses on organizations’ corporate governance policies, such as the disparity between CEO compensation and median employee pay. Organizations that engage in sustainable marketing use initiatives, promotions and advertisements to connect their products and brands to larger environmental and social missions.

Green marketing can use strategies like the following:

  • Environmentally sustainable sourcing methods. Organizations that use green marketing often implement eco-friendly practices across the business to avoid greenwashing. For instance, people may accuse a toy company that spreads climate change awareness on social media of greenwashing if it sources plastics from manufacturers that significantly pollute the environment. Effective green marketing often requires organizations to source materials from environmentally conscious manufacturers.
  • Reduction of energy consumption. Organizations can reduce their carbon footprints if they reduce the amount of energy they consume. To lower energy consumption, organizations may install Energy Star appliances .

Sustainable marketing can use strategies like the following:

  • Partnerships with socially conscious manufacturers. International trade can involve issues like labor exploitation and poor working conditions. To avoid involvement with human rights issues, organizations may choose to only source products and materials from manufacturers that meet certain ethical standards, such as those with fair trade certifications.
  • Alignments with human right organizations. For example, a human rights organization dedicated to reducing labor exploitation may call for increased supply chain transparency in the fashion industry to help consumers choose more socially conscious brands. To show customers and investors that it shares the same values as the human rights organization, a fashion company may publish the names and addresses of its factories.

As consumers and investors increasingly support organizations that share their moral values, green and sustainable marketing have become more critical to organizations’ success. However, business leaders may not know how to effectively implement or measure sustainability initiatives. To do so, they should meet with sustainability consultants to ensure their efforts can make a difference.

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