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Sustainable marketing is an aspect of the larger field of sustainable community development, a field that is defined by the Brundtland commission of the World Commission as:
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
This basic definition is expanded and clarified when understood to mean that sustainable development is the practice of maintaining productivity by replacing resources with equal or greater resource value while avoiding endangering or degrading systems supporting resources within functions of environmental/ecological, economic, social and political eco-environments. By this expanded explanation of the definition, sustainable marketing is a sub-category of sustainable development at the economic and social levels.
Sustainable marketing has three foundational principles:
- Waste reduction and social engagement: Waste can come in many forms depending upon the business or enterprise being marketed. Examples range from elimination of waste from product packaging, such as using no wrappings or simple biodegradable wrappings for packaging, to website linkage optimization.
- Bartering versus purchasing: Contemporary examples implementing the principle of bartering in place of buying are the utilization of social networking and the adoption of partnering to gather like-minded persons open to cross-promotion and information sharing.
- Longevity: Overcome the "tyranny of the urgent" by planning longevity into marketing efforts that will protect the brand from long-term fluctuations in advertising prices and that will launch campaigns targeting optimized long-term returns and long-term social engagement.
Sustainable marketing leads to better relationships with customers through greater efficiency of pricing of goods and services because of waste reduction; through accessible strong social networks and cooperative partnerships with other businesses lending credibility and common purpose; through campaigns and pricing that reflect longevity derived from long-term orientation, protection and enhancement.
Sustainable marketing is marketing practice predicated upon the commitment to avoiding depleting and degrading the environment, either the urban or ecological environments, while:
- reducing waste associated with marketing,
- employing networking and partnership opportunities that reduce energy consumption through shared or cross-promotional marketing activities,
- wprotecting the merchandise brand by anticipating needs based upon and arising from expectations of longevity in a market.
These practices reduce burden on the capital of urban and ecological environmental systems while reducing the waste and demand exerted on these environments. The end result of reduced burden and reduced demand is sustainability of environmental integrity without depletion and degradation of resources.
Sustainable marketing leads to betterment of relationships with customers because, as Yale University's Centers for Customer Insight and for Business and the Environment--which partnered with Interbrand (the brand consultancy division of Omnicom)--put it, customers in a globalized and democratized marketplace invest emotionally as well as economically (for example, rejecting child-labor sweatshops) and demand both transparency and ethical practice that includes protection of our globally shared environments.
Sustainable marketing refers to way of marketing which incorporates needs of the customer, the organisation and the society in general over a long term. It means designing and marketing products that can be used universally by all the consumers across the world over extended periods, without causing harm to either the consumers or the environment.
Some authors equate sustainable marketing with concepts like social responsibility marketing, humanistic marketing and ecological marketing. These concepts are based on the idea that the organization's task is to determine the needs, wants and interests of the target markets and to deliver the desired satisfaction more effectively and efficiently than competitors in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer's and society's well-being (Kotler and Keller, p.22). Such an approach leads to better relationship with customer by directly supplying goods and services needed by them, and by also preserving and enhancing the entire society's well being.
Kotler, P. and Keller, K.L. 2006, Marketing Management, 12th. Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Delhi.
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