Climate change is happening! This issue shows massive impacts on the planet, especially in business activities affecting the worst risk to the workers, operations, and resources.
Therefore, many firms are now shifting their business orientations to be more sustainable, in order to avoid growing risks. Firms are now also creating marketing strategies to be more climate-friendly and conducting activities that can reduce energy use since progressive marketing activities contribute to environmental damages and greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, not a few people complain to the companies because of the impacts they get. Learning this current situation, the triple bottom line concept is now being applied in some businesses in maintaining the profit, society, and environment.
Putting the sustainable aspect in marketing strategy is very crucial in business. Nowadays, consumers in the world are looking for companies that have value to give benefits for them, 77 percent of consumers decided to choose the brand with a sustainable touch. However, not one of the Southeast Asian countries in the top 40 are for attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Moreover, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the four mega-forces in ASEAN; strong demographic and trends; rising income levels; geopolitical shifts increasing foreign investment; and digital advances opening new consumer markets will poise a dramatic consumption opportunity. Hence, ASEAN nations need to work hard to build awareness and apply sustainability in their countries, especially in applying sustainable marketing in business activities.
Building awareness of the important roles of sustainable marketing in business activities is crucial. Many universities in some developed countries already put the sustainable marketing course in their curriculum since the companies need their employees to learn about marketing with the sustainable framework.
For example, Norway puts the sustainability curriculum even starting from primary school, the pupils in mixed-age are aware of using green energy. Therefore, Norway is always in the top 10 ranked sustainable countries in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). However, only a few universities in Southeast Asian countries open the sustainable marketing course or integrate the sustainability concept into the marketing course, whereas the countries in this region need the young generation who understands sustainability. This young generation will apply the skill and knowledge to the jobs and contribute to shaping sustainable business in Southeast Asia.
Despite the limited course in sustainable marketing in ASEAN universities, ASEAN Master in Sustainable Management has been established, the very first magister programme combining the business discipline and sustainability competence under a joint degree of the Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia and the University of Agder, Norway. This programme designed the business disciplines, including marketing with the sustainability frameworks.
For instance, in Southeast Asia, marketing activity has been causing various environmental issues such as waste disposal, climate change, and water quality issues. By learning sustainable marketing, future business leaders will be able to put the sustainability concept such as using clean energy, using the water wisely, and using digital technology instead of using paper or materials coming from nature for the promotional activities. Also, the marketer can educate consumers about sustainability through their product, packaging, and promotion strategy. This new framework in marketing will bring a better environment for the countries.
By understanding the key learning objectives in sustainable marketing, analysing the case studies, and reading supportive resources, students will learn both theoretically and practically how to manage marketing activities and be ready to work in the company or create their own business.
“As future ASEAN business leaders, sustainable marketing equips us with the knowledge and foundation to tackle the biggest marketing challenges of our time.
We need to ask questions such as: How do we promote sustainable products and services? How do we influence others to live a sustainable lifestyle? How do we ensure authenticity and transparency in the manner by which products and services are promoted? How do we hold businesses accountable for the false claims they advertise on certain products and services? These are just some of the questions we need to address through sustainable marketing,” said Ian Benedict R Mia from the Philippines, an MBA Candidate of ASEAN Master in Sustainable Management.
ASEAN needs future leaders who are aware of sustainability in their business. Currently, many employees are working in a company to work in the marketing department, however, they lack sustainability skills. This will cause the company to also lack a sustainability cycle that gives negative effects on the environment or society. Nowadays, some businesses create Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects as the direct strategy to maintain the sustainable cycle for their business. Hence, ASEAN countries need capable leaders and experts in sustainable marketing to enhance CSR activities. Imagine if these leaders have authority in the companies or organisations, not only they can run a sustainable business but also, they can educate future generations.
Southeast Asia’s story in building future sustainable business leaders has begun. If the current young generation is bold to learn the skill in sustainable marketing and will apply it to the business activities, ASEAN will be convinced to be on the top 40 list to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the young generation will be a great leader for future business in ASEAN.
The writer, Arumdari Nurgianti, is an MBA Student of ASEAN Master in Sustainability Management at Gadjah Mada University.