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Thank you for completing this course

Watch Dr Maria Sherrington and Nicholas Passenger thank learners for completing the four-week Future Learn course on sustainable marketing.
We have reached the end of the course. Thank you and congratulations to you, our learners, for completing the course and for your contributions to everyone else’s learning. We hope that you found the course developing. We have found it inspiring to meet the learners at various points in the course. As a result, we have gained deeper insight into the wide range of perspectives used by our learners when considering CSR, sustainability, marketing, and consumption. So what are the questions we originally asked at the outset? What is sustainable marketing and why does it matter? And how do sustainable companies operate and what role can consumers play? Right, so the easy question to answer here is that of why does it matter.
So on the course, we’ve looked at the climate emergency and the related aspects of plastics pollution and carbon footprint. We know about Goal 13 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. So, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, namely that of Climate Action - take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. We’re familiar with how countries are working together in order to limit global warming. We’re equally aware of the urgency of the issue, as expressed in frequent media reports. On the course, we’ve looked at definitions of CSR and sustainability as it relates to marketing, and we looked at one definition that explains sustainability in a marketing context.
And so that definition told us that this is the idea that a socially responsible company will outperform competitors by focusing on the world’s social problems, and actually viewing those as opportunities in order to build their profits and help the world at the same time. And so whilst definitions, such as this one, are positive and they give us hope, from a marketing perspective things are not straightforward. So managing demand in the context of sustainability may involve the objectives of lowering demand or even eliminating demand. And considering lowering demand and eliminating demand, well, we quickly realise that that actually interferes with the conventional marketing goal of getting consumers to buy more.
So what marketers are most likely to be interested in is demand redirection. So for instance when designing new products marketers would make use of renewable resources or embracing the idea of the Sharing Economy where consumers are users of shared resources rather than the conventional model of being owners of items. As for companies operating sustainably, we’ve looked at some trailblazers, among them Two Farmers, so the first crisp brand in the UK to use a fully compostable bag for their crisps. And with these crisps then being made from their own potatoes and other local ingredients. We’ve looked at Volvo and their Plastics Ambition of ensuring that 25% of plastics used in their cars is made from recycled plastics.
Very importantly we’ve also looked at consumers and the role that they can play. And at this point, it’s really important to recognise that all marketing starts with the consumer. That is the marketing concept. The societal marketing concept extends this thinking further. So again, we looked at a definition.
The societal marketing concept says that an organisation exists not only to satisfy customer wants and needs and to meet organisational objectives, but also to preserve and enhance individuals’ and society’s long-term best interests. We’ve also learned about the attitude-behaviour gap, whereby customers will express their commitment to buy sustainably, but then they don’t follow this through in reality. So on the course we’ve looked at initiatives such as IKEA’s Live Lagom community. We looked at ReTuna, the world’s first recycling mall, as well as Library of Things. These are new concepts to assist consumers with demand redirection and a different way of consuming.
So whilst we’ve found some answers to those questions we asked at the outset, what we’re hoping is that additional questions will have arisen in that learners have started to question their own approach to consumption, and for those involved in the business world, their priorities when making decisions. So excellent, what further insights could we share with our learners before we finish this course? I would like to close this course with a quote from Robert Swan, OBE, polar explorer. And so he says that “the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”.
So as consumers we all lead hectic lives, where most of us find it very hard to fit everything in, and often something has to give. And it’s all too easy for us to switch off from the climate emergency because it all seems too overwhelming. And as individuals, we may feel that there really is very little that we can do in order to positively impact the situation. However, the climate emergency is one of several challenges that have been termed ‘wicked’, in the sense that they are very complex and an equally complex solution is required to address the issue.
So it follows that such a solution involves countries working together to reach commonly agreed upon goals, such as the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which we’ve covered on this course. So businesses within individual countries need to recognise their obligation to operate responsibly as do we as individual consumers. We’re all stakeholders in the climate emergency,
and remember that definition that we use for a stakeholder: A stakeholder is any group or individual who can affect, or is affected by, the achievement of the corporation’s purpose. So we can substitute the corporation’s purpose with the well-being of our planet. So the importance lies in realising that we as individuals, be that as a consumer, or in our professional roles, can impact the well-being of the planet and that we ourselves are affected by the state our planet is in. Everyone has a role to play, and central to this is being open-minded and being willing to continuously learn.
And we hope that this course has managed to encourage such open-mindedness and a desire to move forward, learn some more, and translate that learning into positive action.

In this video, we re-visit those questions that we asked at the outset, namely, ‘What is sustainable marketing and why does it matter?’ and ‘How do sustainable companies operate and what role can consumers play?’. We review some of the answers that the course has delivered, but we hope that our learners have started to question their own approach to consumption and, for those involved in the business world, their priorities when making decisions.

We close the course with a quote from Robert Swan OBE, polar explorer: ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’ We call upon everyone to be open-minded, continue to learn, and then translate that learning into positive action in terms of both responsible marketing and consumption.

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Responsible Marketing and the Fundamentals of Corporate Social Responsibility

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