My story of Sustainability Marketing and Consumption

Hey,

I have not been to the first session so I’ll take a second to introduce myself. My name is Jörg and I’m a first year Creative Sustainability master student. I did my Bachelor in Management and Economics at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

I believe that the pictures I saw on the slides were accompanied by informative stories, making a point and encouraging interesting discussions in class. As I wasn’t able to hear them I will tell you my story of Sustainability Marketing and Consumption.

I had marketing courses when I was doing my Bachelor and those marketing courses were partly the reason why I applied for the program here because I thought that marketing was playing with people’s needs in a very manipulative way, therefore contributing to the situation we find ourselves in. Marketing is creating a world in which you are suggested certain lifestyles that aren’t inherently yours, in which comparing yourself upwards becomes a vicious cycle, in which consumption is the main source of happiness and in which you can easily lose track of more meaningful things in life. This is quite a dark picture that I’m drawing but I believe it is true to some extent. Nevertheless I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though not sure yet how to get there. I have learned quite a lot about sustainability already, about the problems and limits we face, the possible solutions and ways to go, about human nature and the attitude-behavior gap, the balance of the 3 (or sometimes 4) pillars and how to think of concepts such as degrowth, decoupling, CSR or sustainable development in general.

Marketing and its role in this game are still an open question to me. I am aware of the misuse of the sustainability concept through green-washing or (d)eco-labeling, which compromise the honest efforts of others and therefore reduce the trust of wider society into sustainability. But I can also see the shift from traditional business practices towards more (real) sustainable ones that also draw a line through the whole value chain. This shift, so I believe, is a response to a more conscious society that demands more effort from companies in the neo-liberal context. On the production side the search for more and ever more efficient methods, products and services is appreciated by society and compensates to some extent for the population growth and immense use of resources.

Nevertheless I think that the concept of efficiency and its ongoing race is an unsatisfactory solution and will be useless without incorporating the concept of sufficiency. The problem I see here is that although efficiency is easily compatible with marketing, sufficiency isn’t because it demands a reduction of consumption and change towards a more minimalistic lifestyle. In the actual economic paradigm of competition and growth, producing and selling less is not a favorable option. Show me the company that produces a toothbrush that lasts forever and explain me how they can keep on running their business. So my point is that although marketing can be part of the solution, it faces tremendous challenges that we have yet to overcome.

This is my story and some of my opinions on the topic. I am really looking forward to how we will deal with all the different issues during the course and hope to find answers to my questions as well as to questions I didn’t think about yet. I am open to whatever a new approach of marketing can bring us.

And because everyone is adding nice pictures and videos, here is one as well =) Here is why we don’t have to worry about our planet, enjoy!

Jörg

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