STRATEGY

Why You Need Sustainability in Your Business Strategy

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Written by Shelby Smithson
03/03/2022
               

It’s the year 2022, and sustainability has grown from a buzzword to a vocabulary staple in every sector of the business world. 

In fact, 90% of executives believe that sustainability is important. However, only 60% of companies actually have a sustainability strategy in their business models. 

Sustainability is such a broad and complex concept, with varying applications. How can we move from talking about sustainability to leading the pack in creating sustainable business models? First, let’s dive into the meaning and importance of sustainability in business. 

 

What is Sustainability?

 

 

The WCED defines sustainability as taking into account how to meet “the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” 

So the first definition that most people recognize is the consideration of one’s actions on the environment. A sustainable business strategy considers the effects of its actions on the environment and society in every step of its operations

A few global issues that may be considered include:

  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Trafficking
  • Racial injustice
  • Working conditions
  • Gender inequality

 

What is a Sustainable Business?

 

However, we shouldn’t overlook the intersectionality of sustainability and growth marketing. Sustainability is not confined to environmentalism. As mentioned earlier, sustainability is meeting needs without compromising future resources. 

This not only includes environmental but also social and economic resources. So businesses must question if they are set up for sustainable growth, both environmentally, socially, and economically. 

 

Why is Sustainability Important in Business?

 

Sustainability may be seen as solely altruistic, but businesses are starting to realise that sustainability also translates into profit. 

Sustainability not only promotes protecting the future of our planet, but it also can drive purpose driven companies’ success. Because when we look at sustainability from a holistic perspective, we can see that prioritising the sustainable growth of your business is also vital. 

McKinsey research found that companies prioritising sustainability consistently outperform companies that aren’t in the long term. Focusing on sustainability in your business can help your brand, increase profitability, and meet today’s consumer demands.

 

A More Valuable Brand 

 

Investing in sustainable growth can only create more value for your brand. By protecting not only the environment but also your workers, you can create a brand that is known for being on the right side of history. 

Let’s take this a step further, considering the sustainable growth of a business. Sustainability in a business goes much deeper than what we convey to the customers. The most valuable brands are ones that internalise sustainability. 

It’s companies that know exactly what their values are and why they are in the business. It’s the companies that have a firm grasp on how they are contributing to society as a whole and how they are representing their community and its values.

A sustainable business should equally prioritise responsibly sourcing their products, protecting the well-being of their workers, and delivering valuable products to their customers.

 

Increased Performance

 

Putting sustainability at the forefront of your business plan can increase your performance and opportunities to grow even more. For example, companies focusing on resource efficiency increased their profit by up to 60%

This provides limitless opportunities to have a competitive advantage over those not taking initiative in prioritising sustainability. Having a sustainable growth strategy may mean a lower return on investment in the short term. However, if executed right, long term rewards aren’t  confined to revenues, but the longevity of the business and wellness of the employees also benefit from sustainable practices. 

 

Meet Consumer Demands 

 

As millennials and Gen Z start to take over the consumer profile, consumer trends are changing and sustainability is much more essential. In the long run, having a sustainable supply chain and business plan is much more profitable based on what consumers are looking for. 

Now 66% of consumers claim they would spend more for a product if it was sustainably sourced. Customers are not just concerned with the product anymore. They are looking for a brand that has a point of view, a reason to be in business, and who can show that they are valuable to society as a whole. 

This is a huge opportunity to capitalise on, because companies can not only create a great name for themselves, but they can attract even more consumers by emphasising their social responsibility. 

 

Sustainable Marketing to the Rescue

 

Sustainable marketing holds the tools to create and promote brands’ commitment to sustainability in all aspects. Marketing is at the core of many important decisions when it comes to a company’s direction, so it can play a vital role in this process. 

In short, sustainable marketing is the process of creating, educating, and promoting sustainable strategies that are beneficial for the brand, customers, and society as a whole.

A great sustainability marketing strategy deeply analyses the issues that the brand is confronting, finds a way the brand fits as a solution, and promotes the brand as an active figure in representing its community’s values. 

 

We know sustainable growth in a company’s business strategy is essential for its brand and efficiency. But creating such a strategy can seem overwhelming. 

Here are 4 key steps to executing a successful growth marketing strategy loop:

1- Define your Personas: identify each persona’s goals and challenges based on the question: why does this persona need my solution(s)?

2- Build Growth Funnels: create a set of stages that a potential customer goes through when making a purchase that gives you the insights to adjust your marketing activities accordingly

3- Create Growth Tactics: generate tactics, where you need to associate each tactic with related growth funnels and personas

4- Monitor, Measure, Optimise, Repeat: iterate your activities according to the targeted metrics

Now that we have a firm grasp on what our growth strategy should look like, let’s discover how we can infuse sustainable growth into our marketing strategies. Below are three ways that sustainable marketing can place your company at the forefront of sustainable business.  

 

Transparency & Commitment

 

The first aspect consumers look for in a brand is transparency. This is where the marketer plays an important role in communicating the brand’s intentions and tangible steps towards their goal of sustainability. 

We are too used to the companies using hot topics and greenwashing to further profits, but audiences are not so easily fooled these days. Transparency is achieved through open communication not only with consumers but also with partners and stakeholders. 

Another important aspect that is needed to have successful sustainability initiatives is proven commitment. It is easy to change your logo’s colours for a month or post hashtags on social media, but how can you prove that you are taking actual steps towards sustainability? 

Business is increasingly becoming ethos driven, and businesses that can adapt and thrive in this will always have an edge. Because this is what customers are looking for these days: a sustainable brand with firm conviction and commitment.

Promote the simple changes that your company is making. Even the little things make a difference and are easily marketable. 

Sustainable marketing is all about showing how your brand represents the community’s best interests, and the best way is through showing full transparency and unwavering commitment. 

 

Education

 

One role of marketers that often gets overlooked is the role of educator. They are not only educating their audiences, but they are educating decision-makers within the company on sustainable practices. 

Marketers understand their consumers and what they are looking for more than anyone else, so it is important for their voices to be heard when making high-level decisions about sustainability strategies. 

This can also apply to collaboration with other departments and companies. Every opportunity should be taken to learn and educate others about sustainable practices. 

 

Promotion

 

Sustainable marketing is not only about showing what your company can do for society. It is also about harnessing the power of your platform and empowering change. 

How can you target customers in a sustainable way? It starts with understanding what your target persona really cares about. You can then create your position and marketing accordingly that includes your product or service, as well as how you run your business. 

With the right message, you can create a sustainable competitive advantage by eventually increasing the lifetime value of your customers.

Through marketing campaigns highlighting sustainable changes in a brand’s operations, marketers can motivate consumers as well as competitors to follow suit. Sustainable marketing can truly be a vehicle for systematic change for society, while also, of course, benefitting from the positive brand messaging. 

 

Use Sustainable Marketing to Your Advantage

 

There has never been a more crucial time to invest in the sustainability of your business practices. We have seen how sustainability is becoming the number one priority for customers, and hesitating to respond to this trend could be detrimental. 

Do not miss this opportunity to use sustainable marketing as a tool to create and promote sustainable strategies for your company before it’s too late. 

At NBT, we enable you to build and execute a holistic, sustainable growth strategy.

Our Growth Marketing as a Service provides a wide range of solutions according to your business scale or needs so that you can effectively transform your business.

 

Kick start your sustainable growth transformation today.

 

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