T.L. Raghu Ram
Policy trends in sustainability: An analysis from strategic marketing perspective
Kotler and Armstrong (2003), proposed that “organizations determine the needs, wants, and interests of target markets and then strive to deliver superior value to customers in a way that maintains or improves the customers’ and the society’s wellbeing”. This proposition assumes that the marketing system operates in a broader social context and inherently works for the betterment of the society. In other research discourses sustainability and marketing are posed as unusual bedfellows in that they traditionally take opposite sides on the consumption continuum. In this proposition, marketing and societal wellbeing are opposites, as marketing encourages unbridled consumerism, whereas society’s wellbeing is dependent on judicious consumption and conservation of natural environment for the present and future generations. Reconciling this sustainability dilemma requires that both demand side (consumption) and supply side (production of goods and services) move towards a dynamic sustainability equilibrium, where all the demand is fulfilled by goods and services produced sustainably and vice versa. In this context, this paper proposes that strategic marketing can play an important mediation role in realizing the dynamic sustainability equilibrium and marketing can inherently be adapted to deliver sustainability. International policies have emerged in the recent past that aim to achieve this dynamic equilibrium through new policy instruments, regulatory interventions and awareness creation. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12, viz. Responsible Consumption and Production, and the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns are a good representation of such international policy. As a response to this global impetus, many countries and trade-blocks like European Union have come up with sustainable public procurement policies, and many corporates have put in place their own sustainable/responsible procurement guidelines/policies. This paper critiques the limitations of the conventional “green” marketing strategies through “eco-labels” which are primarily aimed at convincing retail customer (B2C) segment about the sustainability virtues of a product. It is proposed that the big strategic marketing opportunities exist beyond the B2C segment. It is suggested that marketers need to visualize the emerging opportunities in new spaces created by international, national and corporate policies which in turn influence the business to business (B2B) and business to government (B2G) segments. It is imperative that marketing strategies have to move beyond eco-labels and embrace multipronged approaches to cater to the needs/demands of a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Finally, this paper proposes a framework that will enable marketing professionals to strategically approach the new wave of sustainability driven business spaces and opportunities.