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Focus on sustainability has appeared on the face of the earth over the last ten years and a lot of books and articles are published on the topic of sustainability. Early on, John Elkington developed and promoted the concept of “Triple Bottom Line” in his book Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business which was published in late 1999 (Creating a Sustainable Organization: Approaches for Enhancing Corporate value through Sustainability By Peter A. Soyka, Pg. 1) The concept of sustainability is transformed to cover three basic components known as the Triple Bottom Line which are complexly linked to one another: profits-it is the economical part that balances financial growth with awareness and concern for the social good and environmental stewardship; planet-it is the environmental part that safeguards and preserves the natural qualities of our ecosystem for the benefit and health of future generations; people-it is the social equity part that safeguards the benefits of opportunity and equality for every individual.
The growing importance of sustainable development establishes a significant and developing challenge for environmental economics and natural resources. This challenge is such big that if it is not measured and controlled then it will ruin the life of the future generations that’s the reason why every field now a days strive to work hard to have Sustainable Value Creation (SVC). The question arises what is sustainability, a more relevant answer is provided by The Brundtland commission (1987) which says to be sustainable is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. While this looks clear but if we observe it thoroughly and closely there are some complications and difficulties in it (Smart Green: How to Implement Sustainable Business Practices in Any Industry-and Make Money By Jonathan Estes page 6-8). The first problem which is a marketing problem is in the needs of the present and no one today knows of what level of needs we are talking about.
The second difficulty is an ethical question that relates to the future and intergenerational justice, how we know what the needs of the future generations will be and how far do we look into the future? These two questions i.e. marketing and ethical must be explained much more clearly and precisely than the definition of the sustainability suggests. The world economies currently face many challenges in the domain of public and commercial policy and one of the most crucial challenges they are facing is sustainable development. According to the projections of United Nations (UN) on population growth, the population of the world will most likely reach nine (9) billion people by the year 2050 with most of the growth taking place in emerging and developing countries. It is the commitment of UN to improve environmental and social performance associated with sustainable development. It seems that it is highly unlikely to achieve the goals set by the UN with current unbalanced consumption, marketing and production practices.
KEY IDEAS OF SUSTAINABLE MARKETING:
SUSTAINABLE CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
Creating consumer demand for sustainable products and services is not an easy task because the consumers traditionally behave to maximize their own utility. Many consumers think that anything which is good for the entire society in the long term is always the best option for the individuals in the short term and unfortunately for most of the consumers the positive attitudes toward sustainable development is not shown in their actual consumer behavior and purchases.
There are differences in what people say and what they actually do. Sustainable consumer behavior can be enhanced by positioning sustainable behavior with consumers’ self-interest and by making sure that this self-interest is understood and recognized thoroughly and can be acted upon (Encouraging Sustainable Behavior: Psychology and the Environment edited by Hans C.M. van Trijp page 3, 4). Consumers when they consume sustainably also behave in a way that shows or signals there superiority over others. Marketing efforts should be made to enhance sustainable consumption that leads to reduction in the trait of signaling instinct i.e. our inclination to signal to others that we hold valued traits.
SUSTAINABLE MARKETING STRATEGY AND PRACTICE
The objective of sustainable marketing is to include and combine the environmental concerns in the marketing effort; this means that if the consumers are given better, more complete and more concise information on the sustainable products offered to them this will drive more and more companies to produce products and services that are good for the environment. Sustainable marketing can take the strategies of conventional marketing to promote sustainable products and services not only by labelling the green products but also from working with positioning strategies of product, promotion, price and placement and rigorously engaging in market creation by addressing a large number of customers. The company’s marketing strategy throughout the supply chain from product development to consumption should include sustainability in it.
Many companies are focusing on the implementation of sustainable consumption; they are finding the ways to direct the people’s thinking to forthcoming challenges and problems by using different marketing and communication strategies that lead to sustainable consumption. Sustainable communication and marketing strategies can make the companies think of their long-term socio-economic influence and the long-term perspective of it; this will help the companies to tell the public about their future program without diminishing their present less environmental performance.
EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MARKETING
Effective social marketing is a community and pragmatic based approach; it brings very operative behavioral change. This approach has five steps i.e. prudently pick the behaviors to be promoted; identify the benefits and barriers which come with the selected behavior; form a strategy that uses the behavioral-change tools to understand these benefits and barriers; test the strategy on a sample of certain community; and evaluate the effect of the strategy when it is tested on a large scale (Design for Environment as a Tool for the Development of a Sustainable Supply Chain by Bevilacqua, MaurizioCiarapica,Filippo Emanuele Giacchetta, Giancarlo, pg 147). Social marketing is different from commercial marketing it takes into account the changes in behavior that contributes social gains while commercial marketing’s objective is to produce financial gains by selling products and services. There are five important areas where social marketing focuses very heavily and they are; community involvement, health promotion, environmental protection, financial well-being and injury prevention (Social marketing: A pathway to consumption reduction? Ken Peattie, Sue Peattie. Pg. 262-264)
TRANSFORMATION OF TRADITIONAL MARKETING TO SUSTAINABLE MARKETING
Marketing has now changed itself it has a sustainability feature in nearly all of the marketing practices. It is now somewhat compulsory for the companies to consider sustainability in all of their strategic marketing practices and marketing mix. It is a very distinctive and objective task to integrate sustainability in the marketing strategy and at the same time it is not an easy task because marketing strategies are developed by taking into account the needs and wants of the costumers.
Previously the companies only tried to fulfill the consumer demand whether it has an adverse effect on nature or environment but now more companies are forming sustainable marketing strategies that makes relationships with customers better by fulfilling their demands and results in good profitability of the company and have good impact on nature and environment. Paettie and Belz (2010) after years of research came up with the idea of 4C’s i.e. (Cost, Communication, Costumer cost and Costumer Solution) and tried to mold traditional marketing Mix i.e. 4P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) into 4C’s (Evolution of sustainability as marketing strategy: Beginning of new era Vinod Kumar, Zillur Rahman, A. A. Kazmi and Praveen Goyal, pg 486-487). SUSTAINABLE MARKETING- CHALLENGES AND ISSUES
Developing a sustainable marketing strategy is not an easy task because there are some issues and challenges that should be dealt carefully and prudently before going on with the strategy. The issue is what sustainability principles demand is that we need to conserve the resources and consume less of it and at the same time marketing principles demands to sell or produce more which means consume more natural resources (jones et al 2008). The challenge is how to balance this discrepancy and which means that sustainable marketing strategies should be developed that still result in profits but not creating negative impact on the society or environment.
The process of arising of a problem and solving it is an ongoing process one may come up with an idea or solution to an issue but there would be some problems with that solution too (Charter et al 2006). A good thing of sustainable marketing is not only competitive advantage but it also gives rise to innovation and reduction in costs. CONCLUSION
The Marketing concept now has redefined which was acknowledged only as a functional concept and this concept is now dying and losing its grip on the world stage. Now the redefined concept of marketing is strategic business concept that is intended to attain sustainable satisfaction for the three main players or stakeholders i.e shareholders, the costumers and people in the organization. The concept of sustainability marketing strategy started from ecological issues has now come to discuss sustainability issues. A company may have a sustainable marketing strategy if it involves sustainability in its business practices especially the marketing practices. The companies have to resolve the traditional issues and challenges which come in the way of implementing sustainability in their marketing strategies and then it will be a win-win situation for both the costumer and company. It has now becoming an informal moral obligation for a company to be sustainable. In this new era marketing and in the future, the companies have to be sustainable to compete on the world stage.
Creating a Sustainable Organization: Approaches for Enhancing Corporate value through Sustainability by Peter A. Soyka, Pg. 1, Smart Green: How to Implement Sustainable Business Practices in Any Industry-and Make Money By Jonathan Estes page 6-8, Encouraging Sustainable Behavior: Psychology and the Environment edited by Hans C.M. van Trijp page 3-4, Design for Environment as a Tool for the Development of a Sustainable Supply Chain by Bevilacqua, MaurizioCiarapica,Filippo Emanuele Giacchetta, Giancarlo, pg 147, Social marketing: A pathway to consumption reduction? Ken Peattie, Sue Peattie. Pg. 262-264, Product, Price, Place and Promotion) into 4C’s (Evolution of sustainability as marketing strategy: Beginning of new era Vinod Kumar, Zillur Rahman, A. A. Kazmi and Praveen Goyal, pg 486-487, Jones et al 2008,