The Growing Importance of Sustainability, Purpose-Driven, and Impact Marketing

Consumer habits are changing to reflect the urgency for a more sustainable future, and companies are responding by pivoting to sustainability marketing. In addition, purpose-driven marketing and impact marketing are used to complement this strategy.

The Network for Business Sustainability is a leader in sustainable business development, and they define sustainability marketing to be “looking beyond profit”. In their podcast with David Hardisty, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, they emphasized the importance of impact marketing to nudge consumers into making more environmentally conscious choices. Impact marketing (also known as impact-based advertising) refers to making lasting psychological impacts on the viewer as they derive value from an advertisement, which is crucial to persuading consumers to form more sustainable purchasing habits.

Hardisty goes on to list many successful sustainability marketing stories that use impact marketing. Tesla popularized the electric car by branding it as an innovation when no other company had succeeded in promoting the product. Paper / on the Rocks, a Dutch paper company making paper with minimal resources and clean energy, showed that sustainability doesn’t need to compromise economics and efficiency. “If you can make sustainability products cool, that’s the Holy Grail,” Hardisty remarks.

The secret to successful sustainable marketing is purpose-driven marketing, referring to when a company aligns external values in communication with its internal beliefs. Sustainability marketing is delicate as consumers grow cynical of green-washing, a tactic used by companies who profit off of sustainability marketing without making any meaningful changes to their environmental malpractice. Purpose-driven marketing highlights a business’s integrity and bestows trust in the brand to establish a loyal clientele. 

Patagonia is a fantastic example of what purpose-driven marketing, impact marketing, and sustainability marketing can achieve. Its brand focuses on corporate social responsibility through fostering environmental and social activism, which is also reflected in its external brand image. They even placed an ad in the New York Times on Black Friday, urging consumers to not purchase their jacket as part of their message to discourage consumerism. Patagonia’s transparency and feel-good factor build a strong brand for its consumers, convincing the consumers to mindfully purchase its clothes even if it’s at a higher price point. 

Purpose-driven marketing, impact marketing, and sustainability marketing is no easy task, but it has launched some strongest brands we know and love. It is an important strategy to implement for any business that wants to thrive in today’s market. Luckily, Tiny Planet Digital has a team of versatile online marketing experts that you can rely on. We are a full-service digital marketing agency offering services such as digital marketing audit & assessment and social media strategy formulation to help your marketing plan transition in an era of conscious consumption. 

Have you checked out our page but are still not sure where to start? Book a Discovery Call with us today, and we will see how we can best help you!


This blog post was written by Celina Fu.