Marketing is a vital part of every business strategy, no matter the industry.
When it comes to sustainable businesses, it’s very important that their marketing strategy is different from a regular marketing strategy and mirrors the companies’ values accordingly.
So what exactly is sustainable marketing?
Sustainable marketing describes the promotion of ethical brands’ products, practices and brand values in a socially responsible and conscious way. It isn’t just about what you’re selling but how you’re selling it.
It’s important to note that a brand can’t be ethical or sustainable if they’re working with unethical marketing techniques such as not paying your employees properly, not compensating influencers, sending out numerous marketing emails encouraging compulsive shopping behaviours etc.
What’s the difference between sustainable marketing and regular marketing?
Sustainable marketing has to be more mindful just like the business claims to be.
It cannot be all about consumerism if the very ethos of the brand is to be more conscious. The key here is transparency and finding ways to market the brand that ultimately match their values and distance themselves from greenwashing.
How sustainable are they really? Who makes the product, how is it made, where are those profits invested back into, what packaging is being used, etc.
The challenge for small and independent sustainable brands is that particularly bigger companies continuously have their own ‘sustainable’ campaigns and greenwashing is becoming more apparent.
What exactly is greenwashing and how do you spot it?
Greenwashing means a brand or company conveys a sustainable message or claim which gives the impression that they are more ‘sustainable’ than they actually are. This is usually done to make themselves look better and use the sustainability trend to generate more money. What greenwashing is actually doing is misleading consumers with one big deceitful marketing strategy.
Overall, the more information a brand is willing to share, the better. But be prepared to put some research in and also go beyond just looking at their website. Are there articles? What about their social media? Can you email them and demand more information?
Here are three tips on how to spot greenwashing:
- Be clear on the brand’s sustainability claims: Check out their FAQ section, make sure they are clear about their values and how they implement sustainability into their business. Pay attention to their marketing claims and social media presence.
- What are their prices like? If it’s too cheap, that should be suspicious. Ask yourself: Is it possible for everyone on the supply chain to have been paid fairly if the prices are incredibly low?
- What does the care label say? What types of materials do they use? Where is the garment made? Is the brand transparent about their factories and garment workers?
Responsibilities & accountability
When it comes to greenwashing and spotlighting conscious brands, the press have a massive influence on how these brands are being perceived.
But how much power do the press and influencers actually have when it comes to spreading the sustainability message?
The answer is simple: a lot. Yes, the press is in a difficult position as they’re massively dependent on advertising from fast fashion brands. Nevertheless, they still play a big role in dictating trends and leading customers’ consumption and therefore have a responsibility.
Influencers on the other hand (depending on their engagement) are a lot more flexible when it comes to choosing who they work with.
That raises the question of whether or not sustainable fashion is still a niche. Yes and no. Sustainable brands keep gaining momentum and with it, the important visibility, however fast fashion is still dominating the shopping galleries and pages of magazines and media.
Sustainability isn’t a trend and therefore it shouldn’t be treated as such. But what can brands do to get rid of the niche image? You definitely need to have an interesting story and challenge the status quo of the industry. Creating garments ethically and using natural fibres only isn’t enough anymore. What else are you doing? What makes you stand out from other brands? Why should customers care? And that’s where the storytelling of a brand comes in and how they involve their own community in the conversation.
Brands have a big responsibility towards their community.
Every single brand has the power to contribute to the conversation around sustainability and educate its audience further. Whether that’s talking about which fabrics they use, shedding some light on their garment workers, showing what’s going on behind the scenes etc. This doesn’t just benefit the consumer but also the brand as this type of content provides value and brings transparency.
To find out more, make sure you listen to the fourth episode of our podcast ‘Consciousness Beyond The Product’ featuring Florence van der Spek, Armelle Ferguson and Ruth MacGilp.
As well as find out more on our Instagram account @sabinna_com
Any questions? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a DM via Instagram.