Marketing for a Better World: Authentic Sustainability Marketing Strategies

Saturday (April 22) is the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day and marketing plays a key role in the celebration. 

Green marketing and sustainable marketing are often used interchangeably to describe this work. But there are nuances. “Green marketing” describes strategies that promote environmental awareness, while “sustainable marketing strategies” typically refer to environmentally conscious business practices.  

Sustainable business practices make good sense (and cents), so long as your commitment to these practices is authentic. If you want to promote sustainability practices as part of your marketing, you must understand how your customers perceive your commitment to those practices. Try using a “Three A’s” approach to develop this understanding. And what are the Three A’s? Glad you asked.

The Three “A’s” of Effective Sustainability Marketing

Actions: Ensure that your company has a written policy to reduce, reuse and recycle, and that you’re living that policy.

Audience: Research and test whether sustainable business practices are in fact a priority for your customers, both current and potential.

Announce: If your customers are all in on sustainable business efforts, ensure your audience understands that you share that commitment.

Authenticity Is Vital in Sustainability Marketing

Sustainable marketing risks a bad reputation if companies talk green” but don’t “walk green.”  Misleading the public about your commitment to sustainability – a practice known as “greenwashing”– will leave a permanent stain on your reputation. 

Most Gen Z customers, those born between 1996 and 2012, rank sustainable business practices as a priority when making purchasing decisions. And for Gen Alpha, up-and-coming consumers born after 2012, sustainability is an even greater consideration.  If you choose to market sustainability to these groups, be certain your business practices align with your marketing message. 

The Rise of Sustainability Consumerism Among Gen Z and Gen Alpha

Gen Alpha and Gen Z purchase criteria stand in stark contrast with the mass market consumerism more typically embraced by those born before 1996, for whom “more and cheaper” is a more typical approach. 

To tap Gen Z’s growing purchasing power, you must share their appreciation for goods and services produced ethically and sustainably, and you must be sure your business practices genuinely align with this philosophy. Nearly 75% of Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they know it comes from a company that practices sustainability. 

Gen Alpha will soon number more than two billion globally, the single largest generation in world history. These consumers are even more environmentally conscious than their older siblings, and committed to purchasing goods and services from companies that are committed to sustainability.

Sustainable business practices that have been redefined by Gen Z will be further refined by Gen Alpha customers, many of whom seek out companies committed to the “ESG Trifecta,” or environmental, social and governance practices that align with their own commitment to the environment.

Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Green Marketing Flag Fly 

As you create eco friendly marketing strategies to reach these two groups, your communications should:

  • Be authentic about your company’s commitment to sustainability
  • Educate consumers about how your brand aligns with sustainability practices 
  • Ensure that consumers see their purchase as proof their commitment to sustainability
  • Find ways to reward customers for their commitment to living green

A growing number of consumers make purchase decisions in part based on your commitment to the environment and sustainable business practices. So long as your business practices embrace this reality authentically…don’t be afraid to let your green marketing flag fly.

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