When did you last shout your Marketing Director a (Fair Trade) coffee?

24 March 2015

In this blog, Kath Dewar, Owner of GoodSense, explains why marketing is key if your business is to realise the commercial potential of its environmental or social investment. Plus find out more about sustainable marketing in a video from the Marketi

For every company, like Kokako or Lewis Road Creamery, that put sustainability principles at the heart of their brand, there are a hundred more that see it as a bolt-on at best.  If your marketing department thinks sustainability was something they ran a campaign on once, or worse think it’s nothing to do with them, its overdue time to shout them a Fair Trade organic coffee.

Please like me!

Marketers are always  striving to make their products, services or brands more relevant to potential  customers, chasing social ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ as hard as sales.  Any marketer trying to increase relevance is going to pay attention if you ask them “What, according to Colmar Brunton research, do 90% of New Zealanders want, but only 37% are able to name a brand leader in?*”

The answer of course is the preference New Zealanders have to buy from brands that avoid damaging people and our environment.  While almost all of us want that, 63% of us can’t name a single brand leading on sustainability*. 

That unmet demand should be like a 50m billboard screaming ‘enormous market gap’ to any marketer.  The brands doing and promoting sustainability well are more likeable, and increasingly more successful as this sales data shows.

A great big market gap

As NZ Marketing Association CEO, Michael Pryor says, “When almost two-thirds of NZ consumers can’t name a brand leading in sustainability, there is a major opportunity for business to gain competitive advantage.” 

Find out more in this video:

MA video

 The market gap is big and waiting for your business, whatever your category.  In 2014, between 50% and 70% of consumers buying in every category, except financial services, were influenced by sustainability in some way. For insurance it’s 37% and banking 45%, so the demand for sustainability matters in every category*.

But to move into a gap in the market, businesses need to not only ‘do’ sustainability, they need to promote their sustainability. So your marketing department is key if your business is to realise the commercial potential of its environmental or social investment.  It’s essential for the health of the brand and the business that they get the skills and confidence to do Sustainable Marketing right, and avoid greenwash.

Make it easy for your marketers

Locally and internationally there are abundant case studies charting the way to success and the potholes along the way.  In the last few years a consensus of Sustainable Marketing best-practice has emerged:

  • There are thriving events like those organised by Sustainable Brands in the US and the UK attracting thousands of delegates, from Fortune 500 companies to emerging upstarts, to share their experiences.
  • There are sustainable marketing books to guide marketers
  • Sustainable marketing thought leaders to follow on Twitter
  • and now an online course in Sustainable Marketing, perfect for marketers or business / sustainability managers. The course is offered by the Sustainable Business Network in association with the NZ Marketing Association and my company GoodSense Learning.

Whichever option works best for your marketing colleagues, the important thing is to engage your marketing team in your work. Help them take the first step and upskill so they can work with you on your own brand’s Sustainable Marketing opportunity, and risk. 

Marketing and sustainability, people and nature, can only gain.

* Source: http://www.colmarbrunton.co.nz/images/articles/Better_Business_FINALpptx.pdf

Kath Dewar, CEO and Course Director, GoodSense Learning

Kath has worked at the sharp-end of marketing for 25 years, has held senior roles in the UK and NZ and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She is CEO and Course Director at GoodSense Learning and Managing Director of GoodSense which provides marketing expertise to progressive organisations. GoodSense provides planning, brand development and web strategy for green brands, weightless exporters and not-for-profits, alongside outsource marketing management and special projects such as reviewing NZ’s environmental advertising code for the Advertising Standards Authority. Kath speaks, writes and teaches on the future of marketing in these more ethical and environmentally responsible times. She’s been a member of the Sustainable Business Network for ten years, helped judge the National Sustainable Business Network Awards 2010-2012 and was a finalist in 2013.