By Rohit Jaiswal, COO, Dabur International Ltd
If you prefer a brand because it is ethically sourced, locally produced or it contains components made from recycled material, then you are a consumer that values sustainable solutions. Sustainable marketing enables a company to build relationships with consumers, by letting them know they are important to the brand and so is the environment and future generations.
However, to have a successful sustainable marketing plan, the sustainability plans of a company must encompass the entire business chain, requiring accountability for implementing sustainable practices from the top management level, through to the suppliers, all the way down to the retailers.
Modern consumers are increasingly becoming environmentally conscious, want a better quality of life, wish to make the world a better place and they want to buy from businesses that have similar values. They are keen to support companies that demonstrate strong ethics and stewardship of human beings and the planet. Thus, sustainable marketing is important for businesses that want to retain or attract consumers that support humanity (The human angle), social issues (social), environment, and economic. These can be the four lenses [through which] we can look at sustainable marketing [plans that are] relevant for today’s consumers.
Human factor in sustainable marketing
A company committed to sustainability must put all its efforts and resources into continuously improving value for its customers. It is a win-win situation where the company creates value for the customer and the customer in turn creates value for the company by being loyal. In short, a company must put ‘customer care’ at the center of their marketing and product plans.
Caring for the community and employees
Commitment to social development and, having a caring attitude towards the community, is important to being a truly sustainable company. Whether it is running a campaign to support the underprivileged, distribution of products to the needy during the pandemic or other community activities to raise funds for a cause; these corporate activities make customers proud that they are supporting a socially conscious brand.
To support our community we at Dabur distributed over half a million dirham worth of products through various NGOs in UAE and also associated with Talabat to distribute hand sanitizers for their delivery heroes.
Businesses that focus on employee retention and engagement and, providing employee benefits such as- longer maternity and paternity leave, ensuring gender equality and diversity in the workplace, implementing policies for better work-life balance; are important indicators of being a sustainable company. Sustainable marketing helps to communicate these initiatives by the company to the customers and stakeholders.
As part of being a responsible, sustainable company, we implemented measures to protect everyone involved with our company during the pandemic. For instance, we had strict precautionary measures in place in our factories in the UAE, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, Iran, and Egypt, where everyone was provided gloves and face masks, educated on safe handwash practices, and, provided with hand sanitizers. Several changes were made to our office setup to ensure social distancing amongst employees and we implemented work-from-home policies for the most vulnerable amongst us. We had a mental health expert lead sessions on wellbeing for our employees.
Companies must also have plans in place to reduce energy consumption and reduce carbon footprint, as part of their journey towards being a truly sustainable organization. Focus on adopting practices like using renewable energy for running factories and reducing the usage of plastics. For instance, at Dabur’s UAE factory, we use 50KW SOLAR PV unit for lighting reducing the impact on the environment. As a company, we are committed to reducing the usage of plastic and paper consumption year after year by package design optimization and other initiatives, like reusable shipper boxes.
It is important to communicate the company’s commitment to the environment in your marketing communications and more importantly on the package itself, as consumers value the fact that you’re an environmentally conscious company.
To continue to invest in sustainability practices, a business must be profitable. However, the focus on profit should not be at the expense of the other pillars mentioned above. The economic pillar of sustainability is about compliance, proper governance, and risk management.
With regards to compliance and risk management, investors may want to know that a company uses accurate and transparent accounting methods; and so, it is important to communicate this to them. The UAE government has strong regulations in place to ensure compliance and corporate governance under which there is a separation of ownership and control, board committees for audit and risk, as well as ensuring that board composition is as per international standards, to ensure there are no fraudulent dealings or money laundering.
The company should be aligned with shareholders’ interests as well as that of the Government, community, and end-users.
Sustainable marketing is here to stay
Some companies use sustainability marketing to organize all their activities under the ‘sustainability’ umbrella to gain credit, while for others it means setting up business practices that will eventually have an impact on their operations. Whatever be the reason, we can all agree that a company that embraces sustainable marketing is here to stay.
Opinions expressed in this piece belong to the author.