Marketing a sustainable future

Sustainability is defined as “involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources.” It is about meeting today’s needs without sacrificing the ability to meet those same needs in the future. The listed synonym for this word is maintainable, but the current consumption habits of consumers is the antonym of this.

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Humans’ regular purchasing patterns produce large amounts of waste, especially in grocery shopping and outside dining experiences. Almost everything that is purchased in the modern era is coated in plastic packaging. Only 9% of plastics ever manufactured have been recycled, while 79% of the plastics we have used end up in landfills or littering natural environments.

Scientists found consumer demand for sustainable products increased around $26 billion for the total Consumer Packaged Goods market from 2013 to 2018. It is projected to grow $140 billion by 2023. With the growth of the sustainable market comes new businesses attempting to sell such products to consumers. Bamboo, for example, has become a popular replacement for many plastic and paper products. One company, like this one, allows consumers to subscribe for shipments of bamboo toilet paper to reduce the number of trees harvested for traditional toilet paper.

Larger companies have also committed to providing new sustainable options; Amazon and Walmart implemented webpages dedicated to marketing environmentally friendly products. These retail giants demonstrate the importance of not only giving consumers options for making environmentally conscious purchases, but also the importance of successfully marketing these products. Now that sustainable products are becoming more widely available, marketers are focused on making them attractive to consumers.

The marketability of any product is always based on the consumers’ perceived value of a product.

People consider a multitude of value types – Functional, Conditional, Awareness, Emotional, and Social – when making purchases. With sustainable products, a marketer primarily focuses on Emotional and Social values. Bjorn Frank describes the positive attraction of some consumers to sustainable products as conforming with higher values to gain more societal acceptance and praise. In other words, some people want their consumption behaviors to reflect their values and signal to others that they are ethical and trustworthy. Therefore, sustainable products must include description of the product benefits to the planet and consumer. If those are unclear, consumers will be uninterested because their environmentally conscious purchase decision isn’t obvious. It isn’t only their personal agenda that they wish to reduce their waste, they want those around them to notice their commitment to being green, too.

Emma participated in the Annual Friends of Padre Big Shell Beach Clean-up. Photo by Alexi Hernandez.

I’ve been committed to reducing my personal consumption for many years, and through my undergraduate studies as a marketing major, I’ve come to understand just how much marketers investigate consumer emotions and values. Market research determines packaging, distribution, and advertising decisions. If marketers accurately analyze consumers’ wants and needs, they gain more awareness and can guide interest toward products.

Likewise, I’d like to better understand what consumers in my local area (Nueces County, TX) might want to gain from green products, so that producers can offer better options to their target audiences. By getting more sustainable products into the hands of consumers, we will all be able to make an impact on current consumption levels and preserve our planet for future generations to enjoy. And you can help!

To analyze local trends, I produced an online and voluntary survey. You must be over the age of 18 and a current resident of Nueces County, Texas to participate. Click here for more info and to take the survey, I will share my results in a future blog post as well. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions: Thank you!

Author: Emma Morrow

Emma Morrow is an undergraduate BBA student with a Marketing major with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Emma is invloved in a number of extracurricular activities; She is a member of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's Honor Program, Zeta Tau Alpha Fratentity, Order of Omega, and Panhellenic Council. Emma enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, finding her creative outlet through crafts and projects, and exploring nature and the beauty it has to offer. Emma moved from the small town of Flower Mound, Texas to Corpus Christi to pursue her college education. She fell in love with TAMUCC as soon as she stepped foot on campus and saw the brilliant blue ocean. Emma knew Corpus was destined to be her home away from home during her college years. Now that she's nearing the end of her college experience, she wishes to explore the world. While she hasn't been to many places, Emma has a passion for traveling. She looks forward to learning more about the world and its people through her future adventures; for now she's content exploring all Corpus Christi has to offer.

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