The Growing Importance of Sustainability in Marketing

In today’s world, sustainability has become a pressing issue that consumers are increasingly concerned about. As a result, marketers are under pressure to address sustainability in their strategies and communications. However, a recent report by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) reveals that there is a significant gap between consumer expectations and marketers’ current skill set when it comes to sustainability.

Consumers Demand More Sustainable Marketing

According to the CIM report, consumers expect brands to do more when it comes to sustainability. In fact, two-thirds of adults believe that brands should increase their communications around the sustainability of their products and services. However, only 41% of marketers report that their companies or clients have publicly available sustainability commitments. This indicates a clear discrepancy between what consumers expect and what marketers are currently delivering.

The report also highlights the need for authentic and meaningful marketing to build consumers’ trust. Consumers are becoming more skeptical of brands’ sustainability claims, with 63% of adults believing that many brands only get involved with sustainability for commercial reasons, rather than ethical ones. To overcome this perception, marketers need to communicate their sustainability efforts and follow through on the promises they make.

The Influence of Age on Sustainable Marketing

Interestingly, the report reveals that younger age groups are more receptive to sustainable marketing. Six in ten 18-34-year-olds say they are more likely to buy products or services from a brand that advertises its sustainability credentials. In contrast, only three in ten of those aged 55 and above share the same sentiment. This indicates that as younger generations become more influential in the consumer market, sustainability will play an increasingly important role in marketing strategies.

The Fear of ‘Greenwashing’

One barrier that marketers face when it comes to sustainability-focused campaigns is the fear of being accused of ‘greenwashing’. Greenwashing refers to the practice of making misleading claims about a company’s environmental efforts. The introduction of regulations in recent years has led to an increase in brands being held accountable for such misleading claims. As a result, half of marketers surveyed express wariness about working on sustainability campaigns due to this fear.

However, despite these concerns, over half of marketers recognize that sustainability is an increasing business priority. In fact, 51% of marketers believe that climate change could threaten their existence. This highlights the urgent need for businesses to address sustainability and take meaningful action to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis.

The Importance of Sustainability for Talent Acquisition and Retention

Businesses that demonstrate strong sustainability credentials not only retain top talent but also attract new talent. The CIM report reveals that both job seekers and current employees are more willing to work for companies with strong sustainability commitments. Nearly half of job seekers and current employees express a preference for working for a company that prioritizes sustainability. This emphasizes the importance of sustainability in talent acquisition and retention strategies.

Addressing the Sustainability Skills Gap

To meet the growing demand for sustainability in marketing, it is crucial for marketers to bridge the sustainability skills gap. The CIM report emphasizes the need for marketers to be proactive in implementing positive changes and embracing environmentally friendly working practices. This requires equipping marketers with the necessary skills to confidently work on environmental campaigns and drive responsible behavioral changes within society.

Chris Daly, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, urges marketers to use their unique skill sets to influence, change behaviors, drive innovation, and build communities where collective action makes a real difference. Ignoring the environmental crisis is not an option, and marketers who choose to do so risk falling behind in their careers and missing out on one of the biggest opportunities ahead.


As consumers’ expectations for sustainability increase, marketers need to adapt their strategies to meet these demands. Communicating sustainability efforts authentically and meaningfully is crucial for building trust and engaging consumers. Marketers must also address the fear of ‘greenwashing’ and take concrete actions to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis. By prioritizing sustainability, businesses not only attract and retain talent but also contribute to positive environmental change. It is time for marketers to embrace sustainability and drive the necessary changes to create a more sustainable future.

Interested in learning more about sustainable marketing and hearing from leading global brands? Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) offers conferences in Europe, London, North America, and Singapore. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage with industry experts and stay ahead of the latest trends in digital marketing.

About the Author

Duncan MacRae

Duncan MacRae is an award-winning editor with over 20 years of experience in journalism. He began his tech journalism career as the editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai and has since edited various tech and digital marketing publications. Duncan’s expertise and deep understanding of the industry make him a valuable source of insights and knowledge in the field of marketing and sustainability.

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