Socially responsible marketing could change the world, says report

Leaders and sustainability champions in the marketing industry are being urged to take a lead in transforming their approach to marketing to make it a force for wellbeing, in a new report launched last week.

Written by Dr Victoria Hurth from Plymouth University and commissioned by Friends of the Earth’s Big Ideas Change the World project, Reforming marketing for sustainability: towards a framework for evolved marketing argues that the industry needs to change more rapidly, adopting a six point framework that puts understanding and satisfying real needs at its heart.

Drawing on discussions with a roundtable of experts in the field of marketing chaired by author and strategic marketing guru Mark Earls, the report says marketing in the 21st century must embrace the emerging “guide and co-create for sustainability” approach.

Rather than encouraging unsustainable levels of consumption, or simply going about marketing in a more sustainable way, “Sustainable Marketing” must build relationships with people as citizens, not just as consumers, guiding their choices and working with them to deliver products that meet primary needs.

Dr Victoria Hurth, the lead author of the report, said that “one of the key issues” in the industry “is that there is no shared language or goals for sustainable marketing to help guide marketers and organisations or to allow stakeholders to hold them to account. This report sets out what such a framework might look like.”

The report highlights examples of leaders in the field who have already started to shift to a longer-term approach, including the drinks industry and some parts of the financial services industry.

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