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Key Principles & How to Leverage It [+Examples]

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Key Principles & How to Leverage It [+Examples]

In 2020, IBM ran a study on consumer behavior and found that most consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to be more environmentally conscious. This is likely why consumers have noticed a big push for sustainable marketing from brands.

Fast forward to 2022 and not much has changed.

So, how does a brand leverage sustainable marketing to appeal to a growing, socially conscious audience? We’ll cover that and more below.

Green Marketing vs. Sustainable Marketing

While both terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between green marketing and sustainability marketing.

Green marketing focuses on strategies that promote environmental awareness and protection. Sustainable marketing, on the other hand, is a little broader.

It encompasses green marketing but it also includes practices that go beyond the environment, like social and economic issues.

Are Potential Customers Paying Attention to Sustainability? [Data]

Sustainability is a topic that has gained a lot of traction as of late. Many believe it only matters to Gen-Z but recent research suggests this is a cross-generational concern.

In 2022, we surveyed 1,034 consumers to learn about their shopping habits. Half of the respondents believe climate change is one of the most important social issues companies should take a stance on – with the highest response from Boomers (ages 55+) and Gen-X (ages 35 to 54).

This value is reflected in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

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Nearly half (46%) of respondents say they’re more likely to buy from a company actively trying to reduce its environmental impact.

In addition, roughly 28 percent of respondents say a brand’s environmental impact and the ethical production of its products are two of the most important factors influencing their purchasing decisions.

According to the data, Millennials (38%) care most the ethical products while Gen-X cares the most about the environmental impact. However, all groups show consideration for sustainable practices.

So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this question: Yes, consumers do care about sustainability and it’s not just the youngsters.

So, even if your brand isn’t rooted in this mission, you will still find value in investing time and resources in sustainable practices and marketing to attract more customers.

Learn more about consumers in our 2022 State of Consumer Report.

1. Have a larger purpose.

Brands typically judge their success by the numbers. How much revenue they have or will generate in any given period is usually the biggest indicator of success.

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Sustainability shifts this perspective by having brands evaluate themselves by something bigger than profit.

As a brand, you have to promote something that’s bigger than your products and services and transcends any particular industry.

Do you have a clear social mission? If not, spend time discovering what that is and how your brand plays a role in furthering that mission.

sustainable marketing example

For instance, fashion brand Autumn Adeigbo sells clothing, accessories, and home decor items. However, its mission, as stated on its website, is to impact the lives of women on a global scale.

They do so by using female-owned production facilities and employing female artisans, among other practices.

2. Think ahead.

Sustainability marketing is all about building long-term value.

Too often, brands focus on gaining immediate returns. For instance, many marketing tactics like running Google Ads and blogging are great lead generators.

However, what happens once your lead has made a purchase and turned into a customer? How will you build loyalty and create brand evangelists?

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Sustainable marketing looks at ways to nurture consumers during the entire buyer’s journey.

Education is one way to build loyalty with your audience early on. From when they first discover you on social media to after they’ve made a purpose.

For instance, a food brand could educate its audience on the importance of ethical farming on social media and continue this process post-purchase with package recycling tips.

3. Be customer-oriented.

You might be thinking, “Isn’t being consumer-oriented what all marketing is?

Ideally, yes but that’s not always the case.

In traditional marketing, a brand will often try to push a product or service to a customer. With consumer-oriented marketing, it’s more about understanding your customers’ needs and tailoring your marketing to that.

For instance, say your audience is craving more transparency in your sourcing practices or wants you to be more vocal on social issues. You could use that information for your next campaign.

With so much competition out there, one way to stay customer-oriented is by innovating.

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We’ve all heard the Blockbuster and Netflix cautionary tale. But that speaks to a huge societal shift that Blockbuster was unwilling to make.

But the truth is, innovation doesn’t always have to be so big. It can happen in small iterations – the key here is staying in touch with your audience’s needs.

4. Reflect sustainability in every aspect of your brand

Sustainability marketing doesn’t work if it’s not authentic.

Imagine finding out a business that claims to be sustainable has failed to implement any practices to promote its mission. Consumers would distrust that brand and it would be difficult to earn it back.

Make sure your brand is looking at sustainability from a holistic lens.

Are you preaching about sustainability but using unsustainable resources to build your product? Are you collaborating with brands that conflict with your mission? Is your team representative of the future you want to promote?

These are the questions you should ask to determine if your brand reflects the mission you’ve set out to achieve. Identify the areas that need work and go to the drawing board to figure out strategies that align with your mission.

Audiences don’t expect perfection, they do, however, value transparency. It’s OK – and recommended – to share where you currently fall short and how you plan to remedy these issues.

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Sustainable Marketing Examples

1. Thinx

Thinx is an underwear brand whose mission is to provide sustainable solutions to menstruation and incontinence.

Everything the brand puts out marketing-wise is centered around this core value.

sustainable marketing example: thinx

The brand’s social media pages feature a mix of product promotion, educational content, and mission-focused announcements.

The key to sustainable marketing is doing it in an authentic way that feels embedded in the brand, as opposed to an add-on that’s leveraged when convenient. Thinx is a great example of how to do it right.

2. Kind Socks

This clothing company was started based on the founder’s desire to find a socks company with a sustainable and ethical vision.

While most brands focus on inviting its consumers to purchase, Kind Socks takes the exact opposite approach: Asking them to spend less and more thoughtfully.

This strategy may seem counterintuitive to many companies but emphasizing the brand’s mission can help build trust with its audience and increase their brand loyalty.

3. Pangiai

Materials science company, Pangiai, wants to save the environment.

Every piece of marketing the brand puts out is centered around this core mission, including this video campaign.

In it, the brand explains its mission to “reverse the cycle from the unnatural to natural, from plastic to plants […], from the new to the recycled.”

What’s effective about this ad is that Pangiai describes the future they want to see and outlines the strategies it will implement to get there.

Throughout the ad, you see Pangiai products but they’re not the focus. This tells viewers the mission drives the products, not the other way around — and that’s sustainable marketing done right.

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4. Nada Duele

In the previous section, we discussed the importance of having a holistic approach to sustainability marketing.

With Nada Duele, their mission is reflected in everything: from their name, which represents the idea that products should not cause harm, to the initiatives they take part in.

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When you visit their “How We Work” section, you learn about their collaboration with a Guatemalan institute dedicated to protecting the forestry sector.

It’s important that the partnerships your brand takes on align with your values. Otherwise, you risk losing credibility and trust.

5. Satya + Sage

Social media is one of the best and easiest ways to implement a sustainable marketing strategy.

You can share a range of content, from educating your followers on sustainable practices to sharing ways your brand is being sustainable.

In this example from candle company Satya + Sage, they share tips on how to use the seed paper that comes with every candle.

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sustainable marketing example

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On social media, in particular, pay attention to the questions your followers ask and the comments they make, as that can inform which marketing strategies you test in the future.

Sustainable marketing is becoming increasingly important for brands. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Oct. 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

Content Marketers Share Salaries, Career Paths, and More in 2023 [New Research]

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Content Marketers Share Salaries, Career Paths, and More in 2023 [New Research]

What’s it like to work in content marketing? Is it a rewarding career? Does it pay well? What’s the career trajectory?

You certainly know your answers to these questions. But, until now, little industry research has dived into content marketing careers.

We set out to find answers. Our goal is to help content marketers understand their opportunities and positions – and help companies develop meaningful roles and the resources and opportunities to retain them.

So, earlier this year, we asked content marketers about their work satisfaction, career development, and salary expectations.

More than 1,100 content professionals had their say. You can read the full story – including salary breakdowns by role, gender, and generation – in the Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook (gated).

New @CMIContent survey of #content pros gives a 2023 outlook on careers and salaries, says @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Let’s take a sneak peek at some of the intriguing findings.

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You (mostly) like your content marketing jobs

More than half of the content pros (56%) tell us they’re very or extremely satisfied with their current position.

One content marketer explains: “I can be creative while being tied to business impact. Content marketing offers the fulfillment and growth of a creative career with the stability and compensation of a corporate career. It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s possible.”

Another offers this explanation: “I love seeing all the pieces come together; how great words and innovative designs can affect and influence consumers and audiences. And I love working behind the scenes, getting to turn the cogs of the content machine.”

Satisfaction rates stay roughly the same from millennials to Gen Xers to baby boomers. (We had too few Gen Z respondents to report on their segment with confidence.)

Of course, that’s not to say the job is easy. When asked about stress levels, 24% of content marketers say they are “very” or “extremely” stressed.

24% of #content marketers say they are very or extremely stressed, according to @CMIContent #research via @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

One survey taker explains, “The pace of work can be relentless. Just when you’ve completed one big project, another is right behind it.”

And some kudos go to employers. A significant majority (74%) said they feel their employers care about their stress levels and mental health.

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HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

You’re well educated – and eager to learn more

Among the surveyed group, one in three has a master’s, doctorate, or another advanced degree. As you probably know from your and your colleagues’ career pathways, people come into content marketing from many backgrounds (some come from multiple fields), including:

And content marketers are eager to expand their knowledge base:

  • Over 45% want to advance their skills in SEO, data analytics, audience development/segmentation, and integrating new technologies.
  • 40% show interest in honing their writing and editing skills.
  • One in three wants to hone their audio and video skills (filming, editing, and production).

Content Marketers Interested in Learning These Skills

Content marketers clearly rank high on the “digital dexterity” scale – the ability to learn new skills and adapt to new environments. That’s a sign of an adaptable, resilient workforce ready to meet whatever the future brings.

As Jean-Marc Laouchez, president of the Korn Ferry Institute, says in a Computerworld article: “Constant learning – driven by both workers and organizations – will be central to the future of work, extending far beyond the traditional definition of learning and development.”

And yet, many content marketers are looking for new positions

Content marketers like their jobs and are ready to learn. And yet, most (57%) say they plan to find another position within the next year or are unsure about their next steps.

Looking at it from another angle: Only 43% say they won’t be looking for a new job in the next year.

Only 43% of #content marketers say they won’t be looking for a new job in 2023, according to @CMIContent #research via @EditorStahl. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

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Will Content Marketing Turnover Remain High in 2023?

What’s driving this restlessness? Is it a persistent echo of the Great Resignation? Or a wave of “quiet quitting” in content marketing?

I don’t think so. Instead, the research points to something at the heart of content marketing careers.

Content marketing lacks a clear career path

The data highlights a troubling phenomenon: Only 23% of content marketers say they have a clear path for advancement inside their current company.

Nearly all the rest (69%) say they must leave their companies to advance or simply can’t visualize the path forward. (A small share – 8% – say they’ve reached the pinnacle of their careers and aren’t looking for advancement.)

Many Content Marketers See No Clear Career Path

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Robert Rose, our chief strategy advisor, has written about this problem: “Content marketing is growing exponentially. But the advancement ladder for content practitioners is missing most of its rungs.”

Companies that don’t address the content marketing career ladder will struggle to keep these highly educated, adaptable employees.

Where to?

Content marketers want better-defined career paths and are eager to advance their skills. So, where to begin nurturing their ambitions? With dialogue.

If you’re an individual contributor on a content team, speak up about your needs and wants.

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If you’re a team leader, involve your creative, results-driven professionals in open, honest conversations. Invite them to help shape their career paths based on their aspirations. Then partner with HR and executive leadership to provide what they need to achieve their goals.

After all, investing in their future also pays off for the brand.

Content Marketing Career & Salary 2023 Outlook offers more insights into:

  • Content marketers’ income
  • Unique career priorities by age and gender
  • Advice on how companies can recruit and retain the best content marketing talent

I hope you’ll download the e-book to learn more. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. How do these findings align with your experience? What would you tell the next generation about content marketing as a career? Let me know in the comments.

Get the latest Content Marketing Institute research reports while they’re hot – subscribe to the newsletter. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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