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The role of Marketing in Defining the Organization's 'Sustainability' Goals
August 7 - 10, 2009
Chicago, IL, Chicago Marriott Downtown
Recently, there has been an explosion of research activity in organizations and government related to sustainability and green initiatives. Much of this is a direct result of the rapid development that we are experiencing around the world as well as consumers realizing the importance of changing the way that they consume products and services so as to reduce our impact on the earth. Sustainability or sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Consider the decision to move your operations overseas because of the relatively inexpensive labor market - what are the sustainability issues that we face as a business? Are sustainability issues considered? If so, how are they considered? If not, why are they not considered? How are managers making these decisions using the guiding principle of "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs?" How can marketers be responsive to the needs of all stakeholders when operating in a global environment?
In order to effectively communicate organizations' green commitments and technologies, companies must bridge the gap between technologies and marketing. Since a large majority of consumers' link marketers' social responsibility to their environmental behavior, sustainability must be integrated into an organization's marketing strategy and mission. This is already evident in such areas as corporate branding (G.E. and EcoImagination), consumer boycotting (GM foods), cause-related marketing (Exxon providing mosquito netting in Central Africa), corporate communication (Toyota publishes annual Sustainability Reports), corporate social responsibility (creating positions of significance in companies such as P&G's VP of Corporate Sustainability), new technologies (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen cars), reputation/image (IBM launching a Eco Data Center), and corporate associations (green labeling).
Researchers have the opportunity to bring more focus and scholarly attention to the marketing of organizations as sustainable products or services. In addition to the traditional focus on product- or service-level marketing, researchers can have input into where the world is going in the 21st century. With this initiative in mind, the 2009 American Marketing Association Summer Educators Conference is appropriately entitled "The role of Marketing in Defining the Organization's 'Sustainability' Goals."