New marketing and sustainability framework revealed to practitioners

A new framework developed in partnership with Plymouth University and Friends of the Earth will enable marketers to build sustainability into their day-to-day activities.

The Sustainable Earth Institute, working with Friends of the Earth, marketing experts and members of CIM (The Chartered Institute of Marketing), is proposing six new foundations that form the basis of a Framework of Evolved Marketing.

They aim to place sustainability at the centre of day-to-day marketing tasks, highlight organisational barriers to change and illuminate what ‘good’ looks like in practice.

The framework was in focus at an event in Bristol on Tuesday 17 November – titled ‘Marketing as a force for sustainability’ – organised by CIM and supported by Go Green.

Its lead author Dr Victoria Hurth, Associate Professor in Marketing at Plymouth University, works on solutions to environmental and social issues across academia, business and the third sector and her research includes advancing sustainable marketing and organisational purpose. Victoria explains:

“We are lacking a common language and vision of the role marketing can play in creating a sustainable society. This allows greenwashing to be rife and undermines the business case for sustainable business models – and the critical role of marketing in this. Attendees will be given insight into the academic and practitioner thinking behind the framework and why it adds something new. They will be given a maturity matrix template for use in their organisations – attendee’s experience of using this will be actively used to shape the future of the framework.”

The six foundations which form the basis of the proposed framework are:

  • pursue a relentless focus on understanding and satisfying real primary needs
  • acknowledge the critical leadership role marketing plays
  • recognise and build upon relationships
  • adopt a long-term sustainability mindset
  • take a rigorous approach to measuring the sustainability of all marketing decisions
  • put marketing at the heart of all organisational strategic decisions.

Dr Hurth addressed delegates at the event, which provided an opportunity for marketing practitioners to contribute to the latest thinking in reforming marketing, and attendees were encouraged to discuss and comment on the emerging framework and bring their own experience to bear.

Chartered marketer Carole Bond, CIM South West sustainability ambassador, adds:

“Sustainability is no longer just a marginal concern, as increasing numbers of companies, including the world's largest corporations, embrace sustainability as a strategic theme. For marketers this requires a shift in the way we will do things in the future. This event provided a very exciting opportunity for local marketers to be involved in the evolution of this new framework – there aren’t many management models available that re-think strategically how marketing functions within the business can operate to deliver a sustainable future.”

Research expertise

The Sustainable Earth Institute is about promoting a new way of thinking about the future of our world. It's about the science of the planet, its health and well-being and what that means for us.

Discover more about sustainability research at University of Plymouth

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