Brands with Purpose Research: Sustainability and Ethics in Marketing

Brands with Purpose Research: Sustainability and Ethics in Marketing

Published on September 4, 2023 by Alex Holliman

Our journey to B Corp started from a passion for the environment and led us to incorporate purpose at every level of our business. From workplace wellbeing to community initiatives, we’ve transformed what Climbing Trees stands for and although we’ve still got a long way to go, our goal is to champion purpose in our industry. 

Our research, Brands with Purpose, is part of reaching this goal. 

In our latest 2023 Brand with Purpose report, we’ve found that in-house marketers do not believe ethics and sustainability are part of their role, and agencies are reluctant to set budgets to invest in ethical initiatives. But we believe ethics are in fact a big part of marketing and wider business. We hope the ‘Brands with Purpose’ research will help marketers see how to build businesses that do better and why it’s a worthwhile investment.

Why sustainability and ethics are essential components of marketing?

Marketing has come a long way from the days when the only goal was to sell as much as possible. Today, successful marketers know that building a positive brand reputation is essential for long-term success. This is where sustainability and ethics come in.

Sustainability and ethics are essential components of marketing because they help companies build positive reputations, minimise their impact on the environment, and champion social responsibility.

The rise of digital marketing means that companies must be mindful of their impact on the environment, as a single ad campaign can generate 70 tons of CO2 emissions and the digital ecosystem is responsible for 3.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions produced! Worryingly these emissions keep rising. Adopting sustainable business practices can help marketers reverse this pattern, reduce their carbon footprint and minimise their impact on the planet.

Like any business, marketing agencies need to take responsibility for their impact on society and the environment. This also means embracing action on things like diversity, workplace wellbeing and community initiatives. The time for brands existing purely for profit is over. It’s time for them to take the lead and inspire a better world. 

By adopting sustainable and ethical business practices, companies can create a better world for everyone.

How does our research fit into this?

Our report, “Brands with Purpose,” delves into the ever-evolving sustainable and ethical marketing landscape, highlighting the advancements made since our last research conducted two years ago.

While the main focus of the research looks at sustainability, we’ve also added questions to look at opinions on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, workplace wellbeing, and social and community Initiatives. All worthy ways businesses can add purpose to their brand. 

We explored what in-house and agency marketers think brands should be doing, what they’re actually doing, the obstacles to purposeful action, and how aligned agencies and clients are.

A sneak peek into our top findings suggests:

  • 91% of agency leaders think agencies have a role to play in creating a sustainable future with the largest group of these believing agencies should be leading the way. Agencies are becoming more aware of their role in sustainability and they’re increasingly taking on the leadership role.
  • Marketers agree that implementing sustainable initiatives is the best way to drive the sustainability agenda. Marketers are starting to lean towards actionable ways of driving the sustainability agenda and shifting away from relying on strategy as the main action.
  • 79% of clients want to work with diverse agencies but only 32% of agencies are investing in ED&I initiatives. There’s a lot of misalignment between agencies and clients. Mostly this is due to a lack of communication.
  • Sustainable messages put out by in-house marketers are 45% more aligned with what their company is actually doing than they were two years ago. Marketers are using sustainability less and less as a marketing strategy and are starting to take it seriously.

How to use this research to make a change?

We have broken down how invested marketers are currently in sustainability and ethics which can give you an insight on where you stand and what you can improve. 

The research can also help you decide where you should be investing your time and money, not only to align with your competitors but also with your clients. We give an overview of what are the main challenges stopping marketers from being more purposeful as well as the top tips for becoming more ethical based on our findings. 

We hope our research can inspire you to move in the right direction and even get ahead of the crowd.

Brands With Purpose Report // Climbing Trees

Building Brands With Purpose Report

Discover tips on becoming a more sustainable business and stay updated on the latest trends among marketers in Brands with Purpose Report.