CSB Senior Scholar Randi Kronthal-Sacco Discusses the Future of Sustainability in Marketing

Supermarket aisle
An increasing number of brands are incorporating sustainability pledges into their corporate strategies. With the adverse effects of climate change being more prevalent and severe in recent years, pressure is mounting on the world’s biggest firms to rethink their impact on the environment. CSB Senior Scholar of Marketing & Corporate Outreach Randi Kronthal-Sacco was featured in Marketing Dive’s recent article “What's next for sustainability in marketing following a year of surprising resilience?” which cited CSB’s Sustainable Market Share Index™ research to understand the motivation behind ad campaigns and corporate pledges aimed at sustainability.

While the coronavirus pandemic seemed poised to threaten the progress sustainability in marketing had made before its onset, sustainability-marketed products outperformed traditional consumer-packaged goods (CPGs) in 2020. The article highlighted that sustainability-marketed products tend to be less sensitive to price fluctuations than fast-moving consumer goods. Younger consumers also view them similarly to luxury goods, willing to pay more to buy them in lower volumes in an effort to lower their own individual footprint. 

Many of the most well-known companies such as Pepsi and Procter & Gamble have leaned into the trend, understanding that young people who place more value on an organization’s environmental impact are the next generation of consumers. Pepsi's pep+ is an organization-wide initiative to “drive positive action for the planet and people” by creating shared value centered around sustainability and human capital. Procter & Gamble’s “cold callers” campaign for Tide encourages people to wash clothes in cold water, reducing the energy consumption associated with the use of Tide. Initiatives such as these highlight the shift to prioritizing sustainability as a key point in marketing. 

Excerpt: “Looking past the short-term obstacles, it's harder to ignore the business case for sustainability. Valuable young demographics care more deeply about fighting climate change, and will reject brands they view as out of line with their social values.”