Marketing & management

Marketing & management

Program: Business Administration - MarketingConvenor: Associate Professor Lawrence Ang

Embedding sustainability in this unit:

An example of an assessment:

The notion of sustainability and marketing is not immediately obvious, and some might say the notion of sustainability is an anathema to marketing.  This is because historically, the marketing discipline emphasised on growth and competition.  We are more comfortable with terms like market share and profitability, for instance.  It is therefore, a challenge weaving in the notions of sustainability in our teaching.

However, over the years, I found one 'effective' way to get the message across that marketing students readily understood.  I start by introducing the idea of over-consumption.  My approach is to simply ask students in a lecture (in a humourous way), how many pairs of underwear (or shoes, trousers etc) do they really need.  Inevitably, they will respond that they don't really need that may.  Yet, if they were to open their wardrobes tonight when they go home, they will find more 'stuff' than they need.  We pose the same question about food in the fridge, pantry etc, or the paper we print on.  In other words, we often hoard more than we need, leading to massive waste.  The irony of course, is that much of the fault may lie in having too effective a marketing campaign!

I then pose the kicker question: 'Do you think the planet will be more sustainable if we all consume less?'  And the students inevitably say 'YES'.

I then talk about obesity that is now an epidemic around the world.  In fact, if we all consume less, there will be no obesity, and all of us will definitely be more healthy and attractive!  Now, once I set the scene in this way - using the idea of over-consumption - at the start of the lecture (usually in week 2 when we discuss consumer behaviour or consumer insights), the rest of the classes are easy to weave in examples of sustainability.  We do this by inserting examples about sustainability and linking it appropriately to the lecture that week.  This can range from PR campaigns to help prevent Ebola to creative ways of helping hotels save water.

But as I say, to do this well, you need to frame the notion of sustainability correctly at the beginning.  And in my case, it is the notion of over-consumption that turns out to be a concrete (and yet a complex) way that students can relate to.


On the framework and support:

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