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Marketing : Sustainable Marketing

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"Sustainability" has the same meaning as "long-term", "durability", "systematic" (Filho, 1999). Marketing refer to activities between buyers and sellers in conducting transaction or exchange that benefit them mutually in a marketplace (Blythe, 2010). Even though marketing and sustainability are different as "chalk and cheese", increasing proof shows that both of the concepts can offer benefit to each other (Jones, Clarke-Hill, Comfort and Hilier, 2007). In an ideal world sustainable marketing is a form of marketing that arrange firm's internal processes and resources that generate value for stakeholders while improving the external natural and social environments ( Arnould and Press, n.d ). There are three ways in achieving a sustainable marketing; Green Marketing, Social Marketing and Critical Marketing.

Green Marketing

As stated by (Polonsky 1994, 2) green marketing is a form of marketing that being structured to accommodate changes in consumer's attitude towards its product and aim to fulfil their needs under a condition that it has minimal harmful impact on the environment. The spread of 'Ecological Marketing' idea started in 1970s when people start to be environmentally concern (Hennison and Kinnear, 1976). At times of crisis, people are aware of their negative effect on the environment. Due to this reason (Mintel, 1991) findings demonstrated a rise in green product's demand and customers were also inclined to pay extra costs for the product. According to an article by (Ward, n.d) there are three way of succeeding in green marketing; authenticity, sufficient 'green' knowledge given to customers and creating opportunity for customer to participate in the process.

One of the companies that realistically practice green marketing is Ben & Jerry's. (Rottkamp, 2010) pointed out that Ben & Jerry's "Lick Global Warming" campaign on their ice cream pints and homepage aim to tell their customers that they have a stand on carbon emissions effect on the environment and they only collaborate with responsible and sustainable oriented paper company for their pints production. These actions aim to promote their environmental awareness nature. Green marketing development depends on the dynamic system of four strengths; enterprise, consumers, government and non-government organization (NGO). The diagram below illustrates this idea (Li, n.d.).


Enterprise have to decide to be "green" and then come the entire decision making process on their production process to accommodate this choice. The benefits that it brings for the enterprise are obviously their environmental benefits such as waste reduction, non usage of harsh chemicals and dyes, and the recyclable materials they use. A drawback to this is higher cost of production that could be a disadvantage for the enterprise to compete in the market. While (Ward, 1994) says that expensive and risky implementation of environmental-friendly systems can affect their profit making but in the long run it will be very profitable for them.


(Coddington, 1993; Meffert and Kirchgeorg, 1995; Ottman, 1992) as cited by (Stead and Stead, 2000) says green consumer's demand are different in term of their motives, ecological level and how committed they are. Thus, all process of the production is significantly influenced by the consumer. Consumer benefits a better lifestyle such as healthy food consumption, clean and healthy environment to live in and others. The main disadvantage is that the product tends to be costly itself.

Government and NGO

Due to existence of legal laws and public opinion, it's inevitable that green marketing implementation will be criticised either in a good or bad light. Thus it is important that government and NGO should work hand in hand in monitoring the operation of green marketing to ensure that it is being implemented according to the law.


A working paper from (Linder, 2010) stated that marketing in green comes with high risk in greenwashing. It basically means green marketing being practise wrongly where firm purposely be "green" to achieve their ulterior motives such as to obtain market share. An example of greenwashing is the recent introduction of eco-fashion where bamboo is one of the elements of textile making. (Binkley,2009) wrote an article about four small bamboo clothing factories being sued by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for falsely label their clothes without following the 1958 Textile Fibre Products Identification Act.

Social Marketing

Even though green marketing shows high capability, but by itself alone is insufficient to create a sustainable marketing and this is because of its lack in targeting individual behaviour. Therefore, implementation of green marketing and social marketing at the same time will encourage sustainable marketing more. (French and Blair-Steven, 2006) as cited by (Gordon et al., 2011) stated that UK National Social Marketing Centre defined social marketing as "systematic application of marketing concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioural goals for a social or public good". It concern lies on consumer's welfare even if the consumers themselves are oblivious of the harmful effect of the product they consume. One of the current examples of social marketing is Walmart and Treasure Coast Food Bank charitable collaboration. Walmart Foundation donated $100,000 to Treasure Coast Food to help them establish a Senior Health and Nutrition Outreach Initiative that provide nutritious meals to old folks with low-income and their families (, 2011). This clearly shows that the society is at advantage and in this particular case, senior citizens are the benefiters. The obvious strength of social marketing is their goal of focusing on society welfare as a whole instead of individuality compared to normal commercial marketing which choose to fulfil consumers wants regardless of the effect on the society. It could be inexpensive if the company use internet as their medium for social marketing and this is called social media marketing. (Wikipedia, 2011) quoted that "social media marketing programs usually focus on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it with their social networks". The main challenge of social marketing face is that the fine line between it and social propaganda. Social marketing could be irresponsibly used to create propaganda which could be disregarding the society's welfare.




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