Marketing should do a lot more about sustainability than painting the logo green

#EnelFocusOn New York City

As well as business is a relationship between people, sustainability is a relationship between people and the environment. Companies have, so far, taking advantage of the environment.

I was invited by Enel Group to speak in New York City for one of their #EnelFocusOn events. “Embracing Consumer Demand for Sustainable Products” was the topic of discussion. With me also Cyrus Wadia – Former Nike VP & White House Director – Jodi Harris – Vice President, Marketing Culture & Learning at Anheuser-Busch – and other experts and influencers from 6 different countries.

Here the video of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=42&v=A2RgmWSYZ7s

Marketing is often seen as leverage to sell more products and too often confused with a synonym of promotion or advertising. Sustainability is, instead, often perceived about consuming less. The common conclusion is that marketing and sustainability are poles apart.

I like the definition of marketing by The Chartered Institute of Marketing: ‘Marketing is the management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’.

I also like the definition of sustainability by Werther and Chandler: ‘Business operations that can be continued over the long term without degrading the ecological environment’.

Reading these two definitions I don’t see any troubles between marketing and sustainability.

Also, as Antonio Cammisecra – CEO of Enel Green Power – pointed out during the event, renewable energy is now (also) an economical choice, because is becoming cheaper.

Thanks to the progress and innovation companies are now modifying their business and marketing strategies to embrace sustainability. Not only big companies, such as Nike, Adidas or Anheuser-Busch, but also small companies have now the opportunity to start meeting customer needs without compromising the environment. Tenuta Gorghi Tondi, for example, is a winery located in a WWF nature reserve in Sicily. Their relationship with the environment started four generations ago, growing 130 hectares of vineyards with clean energy, no chemicals and no OGM.

It is clear that sustainability is a strategic business decision that has to be made at C-level and it takes time, and leadership. Modifying the core of business means changing the company’s culture, this is why Cyrus Wadia’s speech was mostly about sustainability leadership. Only leaders can set sustainability company goals 20 or 30 years in the future.  

As well as business is a relationship between people, sustainability is a relationship between people and the environment. Companies have, so far, taking advantage of the environment.

It is time to stop exploiting the environment and start building a relationship with it.
And sorry if you did it, but painting your logo green is not how marketing should take care of sustainability. What also emerged from the discussion is that companies are not communicating enough about their sustainable choices. Something that Anheuser-Busch, instead, is doing great, especially with their last Superbowl spot for Budweiser (take a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrJytdNXWfQ ).


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Defined by Going Global UK: "LEADING EXPERT IN INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES". Coordinator of the Networking Club of Philip Kotler at the Italian Marketing Foundation. The only Italian who accomplished the MIT Digital Business Strategy Executive Program about Digital Transformation (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Co-founder of Weevo, co-publisher of Il Giornale delle PMI, author of "Strategie web per i mercati esteri", Hoepli 2016 (Digital Strategies for International Markets).

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