One of the larges and most sought after goals by major brands in todays market is be know for using “Sustainable Materials.” In todays complex global business environment that is easier said than done. The idea of being label a sustainable brand is fluid in modern culture and few rules regulate the companies from using sustainable in their marketing campaigns. Sustainable practices in today’s business market can range from third-part certificates to training for suppliers. This leaves companies with a wide range of practices that can be deemed sustainable, but have limited positive environmental impacts.
A recent article published by Stanford University, Companies’ Contribution to Sustainability Through Global Supply Chains by Thorlakson, de Zegher and Lambin, ”researchers analyzed 449 publicly listed companies in the food, textile and wood-products sectors,” their conclusions were the following. A majority of sustainable sourcing practices cover only a subcategory of input materials for products. Companies have limited sourcing practices dedicated to health, energy, infrastructure, climate change, education, gender or poverty. Sustainability practice address one part of the supply chain and can neglect the remaining process. An example used in the article was textile factories that produce t-shirts, the remaining processes, from dying the cloth to growing the cotton, remain unchanged. Companies will due to the minimum necessary to use the label of sustainable sourcing, such as Fair Trade certification for only one type of chocolate bar among many that it sells.
What does this mean in the development of sustain business in the future?
The marketing for sustainable business practice must shift in the future. The average consumer is becoming more discerning with their education of a brands actually sustainability. The better sustainable brand will start to work hard in educating the consumer about the amount and quality of sustainability their products offer. The increase in education will result in a more refined and differentiated sustainable product marketing.
How will this effect international market communication?
The sustainable brands that are actively involved in marketing the sustainability of their brands to local markets will have to expand their message to international markets that are less familiar with sustainable brand practices. The other key areas of sustainability missed by major brands, health, energy, infrastructure, climate change, education, gender or poverty, will probably become a larger focus. Developing market or different cultures might prioritize aspects of sustainability differently than developed or western consumers. The major question for sustainable brands will be the decision between standardization or adaptation for its sustainable aspects of its products internationally.
Sustainability internationally will become a critical topic as the world battle effects of pollution, limited resources, and climate change. Brands on the cutting edge of these initiatives will see a larger acceptance into markets and consumers will start to demand more sustainable products from different industries.
Companies’ Contribution To Sustainability Through Global Supply Chains By: Tannis Thorlakson, Joann F. de Zegher and Eric F. Lambin