Elevating the Role of Marketing through Sustainability — Carolin Sommerer

4 min readApr 16, 2024
Photo by jcomp on Freepik

The intersection of Marketing and sustainability emerges as a potent force for transformative change. As someone with a background in both Marketing and Supply Chain, I have seen how sustainability can be a powerful driver of change and innovation in both fields. However, I also noticed that while sustainability is today deeply entrenched in the structure and strategy of many Supply Chain organizations around the globe, its integration into the Marketing function is often considered a superficial one — focused mainly on the promotional aspect of selling sustainable products, solutions, or services.

Discussing the book “Sustainable Marketing” by Alexis Eyre and Paul Randle, the Future Strategies Podcast featured a thought-provoking conversation between podcaster Florian Schleicher and the authors on what sustainable Marketing is, how the Marketing function can evolve, and how Marketing can embrace sustainability as a guiding principle. As Alexis puts it, sustainable Marketing in its most simplistic form means that “sustainability is embedded into every single aspect of Marketing. It’s not just your promotional area. It is about everything. It is embedded into branding, it is embedded into strategy, it is embedded into how you go to market. It’s embedded in your governance, it’s embedded in your metrics and, most importantly, it is ensuring that your Marketing is aligned with your wider company sustainability objectives”. This is a new and holistic approach which fosters the rigorous alignment of the Marketing function with the corporate sustainability objectives and it can mark a pivotal evolution in the role of Marketing within organizations.

According to the authors, the Marketing function should develop a mindset which goes beyond focusing on today’s predominant commercial aspect of selling to grow the business. Instead, the Marketing function should incorporate environmental, societal, and commercial questions into its work. This can lead to a new role for Marketing which has three missions: the commercial mission through which Marketing will continue to sell, the environmental mission which is about Marketing itself seeking to regenerate the environment by their actions, and the societal mission, which is about how Marketing engages with the human in a way that is equitable and fair.

Furthermore, Paul explains how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be used as the north star for Marketing and become the center of the Sustainable Marketing Compass which Alexis and Paul co-developed. With the SDGs at the center, the compass looks at the four strategic foundations “Redefining Success” (what does success look like), “Rethinking Value” (how is value delivered), “Real People” (understanding your customer in their wider community context) and “Efficacy and Governance” (how to drive Marketing operations more sustainably). This then gets translated into the implementation pillars: Purpose, Partnership, Participation and Performance. Ultimately, the compass is completed by Data and Testing, forming a total set of five layers.

The podcast illuminates a compelling narrative: Marketing, when imbued with sustainability principles, transcends its traditional role as a revenue driver. It becomes a catalyst for positive change, influencing the broader corporate agenda beyond quarterly sales targets. Imagine coupling this evolved Marketing function with a Supply Chain ecosystem in which sustainability is embedded in all aspects of procurement and vendor management, manufacturing, and logistics. A Supply Chain in which circularity of all materials used along the value chain is ensured. And in which the lives of everyone involved in the production and delivery of a product can be sustained at a fair level. Moreover, envision an R&D division dedicated to developing products aligned with genuine human needs. Concurrently, a Human Resources function ensuring organizational alignment with shared values, fostering a culture of sustainability across all facets of the company. This convergence of sustainable Marketing, Supply Chain management, product innovation, and organizational culture heralds a paradigm shift towards regenerative business practices while genuinely elevating the company’s brand reputation.

The synthesis of Marketing and sustainability signals a new era of corporate responsibility and innovation. By embracing sustainability as a guiding principle, marketers can push beyond traditional boundaries and catalyze positive societal and environmental impact. The imperative for sustainable Marketing emerges as a strategic choice and an ethical obligation to future generations.

Led by conscious and regenerative principles, Carolin Sommerer brings a transformative approach to leadership, integrating sustainable thinking into every aspect of corporate strategy. Her strategic acumen coupled with a commitment to long-term sustainability positions her as a leader poised to bridge the gap between environmental consciousness and corporate objectives. Whether crafting innovative marketing campaigns, optimizing supply chain efficiencies, or providing strategic guidance at the executive level, Carolin prioritizes impact beyond the bottom line.

Connect with Carolin on LinkedIn.




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