A sustainable society logic for marketing
Varey, R.J. (2011). A sustainable society logic for marketing. Social Business, 1(1), 69-83.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5479
Purpose: The purpose of this discussion is to raise consciousness on the purpose and form of marketing required for a sustainable society. Whilst acts of consumption avoidance and anti-brand boycotts and campaigns might seem to be clear signs of citizen concern for the environmental impact of consumption and a desire for products that are 'planet-friendly', 'green' products have been received with lukewarm interest, and even indifference and scepticism. Green marketing is met with anti-consumption behaviour. The rally cry for businesses to acknowledge that 'business is good for the environment, and the environment is good for business' grows louder, and there is also increasing acknowledgment that that there is necessary conflict of environmental goals and growth-based corporate profit motive. Approach: A necessary distinction of weak and strong sustainability explains this confusion. This is a reframing of marketing in relation to sustainable development that acknowledges that socio-political issues cannot be resolved exclusively in the technologised economic market. Findings: Marketing that radically transcends 'weak' 'green consumption' has the capacity to support transformations towards a sustainable society. Limitations: This is a conceptual (abstract) discussion intended to propose an alternative way of thinking about marketing. As such, the richness of citizens' life experiences are not recounted here. Much more can be learned from the stories of 'social marketers in action' in many diverse situations. Implications: A form of marketing in which consumption is brought into harmony with ecosystem carrying capacity is considered, and practical guidance in this direction is suggested. Sustainable marketing has a noble purpose: it sustains, instead of consumes, our world. Contribution: A form of marketing that isn't focused primarily on consuming natural capital for corporate profit is a central aspect of social business. Understood as a social process, rather than a managerial technology, marketing for sustainable society is not growth-driven, but rather a service-based means to realise well-being. This article highlights the inherent constructive and transformative power of a form of social organisation we can truly call 'social marketing' because it is at the heart of social business.
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