Does Promotional Mix differ in Sustainability?

No! Advertising, Personal selling, Sales promotion, and Publicity or PR – the 4 major elements of promotion mix in traditional marketing are the same for Green or Sustainable Marketing and communications. Only that each of these has a specific role and application in sustainability spin. Let’s take a brief look at each one of these:


A mass media tool reaching out to huge populace at once. It allows firms to gauge consumer interest to gather useful insights. Here’s how it can be used to communicate sustainability in the 4 major domains of Product, Institutional, Trade association and Public Services.

Product advertising is the first point of contact of the manufacturer with the end consumer. A low key approach often works better than bold claims. Giving both positive and negative attributes of a product will leave the decision entirely on the consumer, which can be a good thing. But in emerging markets, the market is not developed or educated enough to self-decide. So, education is the key.

Institutional Advertising also aims at promoting a green image but that of the entire corporation in a more holistic manner rather than focusing on just a single product. Again, a low key approach works well as compared to bold claims. Technology companies like Dell, Apple and HP in the recent years have promoted their image very subtly to elicit the right imagery in consumers’ minds.

Sponsored advertising in association with various trade organizations and public service announcements also help further the cause of educating and creating awareness among the public and delivers a message of sustainable communications.

Personal Selling

If used tactically, personal selling can be an effective form of communicating sustainable messages. But for that to happen, the sales personnel must be well informed and educated on the entire product’s life cycle impacts of the product as compared to the other products in the same category. This is especially true of the products that require intensive knowledge of the products.

Sales Promotion

Sales promotion methods typically are used to promote a particular product or used to enhance consumer purchasing for the short term eliciting a desired consumer reaction – putting sustainability in the spin will naturally elicit the response – but only for short-term. It needs to be used as top-up of the overall sustainable communication strategy.


Both positive and negative publicity can be a source of opportunity for any firm. Negative publicity does effect the company image – but at the same time it is an opportunity for the firm to be aggressive in its environmental policies.

Sustainable marketing communications is not that different from the traditional marketing mix as is generally thought to be – it simply takes the whole product’s life cycle into account while devising various strategies.

What do you think?

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