The second age was the 1980s environmental marketing which focused on using clean technology, understanding and targeting the ‘green consumer’, viewing good socio-environmental performance as a potential basis of competitive advantage, and encouraging marketers to have a physical systems view of businesses.

And the third age is sustainable marketing, with a focus on the goal of creating sustainable development and a sustainable economy.

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Sustainable marketing “is marketing within, and supportive of, sustainable economic development.”

Sustainable marketing takes us back to the roots of marketing by discovering and understanding people’s needs and then developing a marketing mix to satisfy these needs, while generating prosperity and restoring the environment.

Sustainable marketing is marketing for the triple bottom line:

Empower communities by enriching their social capital (People or social)

Protect and restore the environment (Planet or environment)

Generate prosperity for the organization and its stakeholders (Prosperity or financial)

Sustainable marketing doesn’t promote an organization’s sustainable practices the way green marketing promotes supposedly green products. Sustainable marketing stands at the core of a triple bottom line business; it’s its core business strategy. Its triple goals are its triple values.

Sustainability is a major concern for marketers in the 21st century since marketing strategies and activities are inextricably linked to the future of natural environment that sustains all life.

As recently as five years ago, while companies used to market themselves for efficiency, cost competitiveness and product quality, now the USP of a number of products is ‘sustainability’. The scope of sustainability is broad and companies worldwide are being held responsible for issues such as reducing consumption of scarce resources, not harming the natural environment, ensuring sustainable supply chain management, reducing climate change/impact, sensing consumer concerns about sustainability, increasing global economic stability through sustainability, and proactively managing business processes to protect the natural environment.

A good example is the Kansai Nerolac paints that have now moved their branding proposition from ‘better texture and sheen’ to being an ‘eco-friendly and healthy’ paint.

The general perception is that the Indian consumers do not care much about product sustainability unlike their US and European counterparts, and hence green marketing could not quite take off. But the latest green marketing techniques convey otherwise – so does this mean the consumer mindset is changing now?