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As mentioned in the introduction, the aim of sustainability marketing is to integrate social and environmental aspects in every step and every action of the whole marketing process. The goal is not only to promote environmental friendly or ethical products and services but also to enhance environmental awareness of consumers and thus influence people´s attitudes and the public opinion into environmentally friendlier direction. In the best case it may even support the expansion of environmentally friendlier consumption habits and life styles. It is, naturally, of great importance here that the environmental performance of the company in question as well as all its production processes and other functions like logistics, suppliers, after sales etc. really meet strict social and environmental criteria. If the concrete performance is lacking it is probably only matter of time when the customers, a NGO or media raise a question about the shortcomings - and the reputation is gone.

The sustainability marketing chapter consists of sub-chapters based on Belz and Peattie´s conception (2009) of sustainability marketing management. They divide the process into 6 steps: 1. Analysis of socio-ecological problems, 2. Analysis of customer behaviour, 3. Sustainability marketing values and objectives 4. Sustainability marketing strategies, 5. Sustainability marketing mix and 6. Sustainability marketing transformation. Each step is introduced in more detail in the following sub-chapters.

Conception of Sustainability Marketing (Belz & Peattie 2009, 32).

The conception moves from analysis to action: The first two steps begin with an analysis of the company's present situation. In sustainability marketing, according to Belz, it is crucial not just to know consumer needs and wants, but also to find out about the ecological and social problems of products along their whole life cycle from cradle to grave. The intersection of socio-ecological problems and consumer wants can be seen as the ground for sustainability marketing. It indicates e.g. new market opportunities for innovative companies. In other words, the first step, analysis of socio-ecological problems means, shortly, describing and analysing all potential social and environmental impacts the company and its products and services have during their whole life cycle. Analysis of consumer behaviour has several topics. For example, it describes various issues related to ethical purchasing process. It also tries to explain why e.g. environmental awareness and positive attitudes towards ethical issues do not necessarily lead to ethical purchasing decisions. 

Steps three to five, in turn, describe the concrete implementation of sustainability marketing. Social and ecological criteria are fully integrated into company actions, e.g. the mission statement, strategies and marketing-mix. Step 3 tackles various issues concerning corporate commitments to sustainable development e.g. in their mission statement, sustainability visions and strategies, formulation of sustainability principles and guidelines etc. Strategic sustainability covers, like its name reveils, strategic marketing issues like segmentation, targeting and positioning as well as timing of market entry etc. The topic of instrumental sustainability marketing is integration of social and ecological criteria into the marketing-mix, i.e. products, services and brands, pricing, distribution and communication. The sixth step, in turn, is one of the specifics of sustainability marketing. It discusses the participation in public and political change processes which aim at transforming existing institutions towards sustainability. (Belz 2005, 3-4).

In the following, only the basic idea of the analysis of socio-ecological problems will be introduced here, all the other topics are discussed in more detail in their own sub-chapters.

Analysis of Socio-ecological Problems

Since the approach here is the economic point of view, or to be more precise, marketing point of view, the analysis of socio-ecological problems is introduced here only shortly.

To identify the socio-ecological problems, the whole life cycle of the product from cradle to grave has to be taken into account. The stages of the "socio-ecological product life cycle" include at least: extraction of raw materials, transportation, production of preproducts, production of final products, distribution, use, re-use, disposal, and recycling. As mentioned before, the environmental impacts of different products usually depend very much on the way it is used and disposed. Issues related to life cycle, see WP6. One should, however, keep in mind that  the socio-ecological product life cycle is not to be mistaken for the traditional product life cycle (PLC), which is commonly used in marketing and which consists of five distinct stages: product development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline (Kotler/Armstrong 2004, 330-337).

It is also important to remember that the ecological impacts can cause problems on local, regional or global levels.  Climate change, destruction of the ozone layer and the loss of biodiversity are global problems which require international solutions and actions. Issues like soil erosions, water shortages, and noise emissions, in turn, are rather regional and local problems and can be solved on national and local levels. What it comes to social problems, a differentiation between industrialized and developing countries is often needed. Generally speaking, in industrialised countries basic human needs are fulfilled and the majority of people is well-off. In this context social problems include issues related to well-being, health, obesity, high rates of unemployment, etc. In developing countries, especially in least developed countries, basic human needs are not necessarily fulfilled. Often, social problems are a question of survival and problems deal with poverty, hunger, malnutrition, child labour, discrimination of women, and so on. Due to globalisation, companies increasingly engage in these countries by moving their production there due to e.g. cheap labour and material costs as well as looser legislation. There the may find themselves confronted with new and diverse, sometimes even contradictory ecological, social and economic demands (Crane/Matten 2004, 17 in Belz 2005).

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JPEG File Belz steps.jpg 58 kB May 15, 2010 14:48    
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