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Sustainable Marketing

Page
1


AWARDED BEST PAPER

RESEARCH TRACK, MPI/WEC 2012

Sustainable
Event
Marketing in the MICE Industry: A
Theoretical
Framework


Susan

M.
Tinnish, PhD

Sapna Mehta Mangal


Abstract


A

new era is dawning
for

organizations focusing on sustainability
.
Changes in views about
resource

management, shifting consumer demands and a longer
-
term focus on corporate social
responsibility

(CSR)

is encouraging organizations to consider sustainability

in all aspects of
organizational life
.
Meetings and events are not immune from this trend
.
While marketing is
about encouraging consumption,

this discipline is not
untouched by
the focus on sustainability
.


Marketing serves
as a

bridge between an organiz
ation and its stakeholders
.
Marketing needs to
be
concerned about

the resources it uses to satisfy consumer needs and wants and also be
concerned about the effects of this consumption on human life
and

biosphere

(
Sheth &
Parv
atiyar,
1995
, p.
6)
.
Event
s are

a strategic communication tool available to deliver key
messages to different stakeholders
.
Event
s utilize branding, theming and messaging to
communicate their messages
.
P
lanners use vehicles like signage, banners, promotional items,
invitations and regis
tration, handouts, exhibits and nametags/lanyards
.

Inherent in all
event
s,
therefore, are marketing elements which help drive branding, theming and messaging.


This
conceptual
paper serves as
an

introduction to the topic of sustainable marketing to help
planners react to the challenges of sustainability
.
Adapting a model used for marketing in the
forestry industry (
Kärnä
Hansen and
Juslin
,

2003
), the authors create a framework in which
planners
can build an integrated sustainable marketing plan
.
Moreover

to
fill a void
in the
literature and practitioner
-
focused resources,
this paper focuses on the holistic view of
sustainability with a specific emphasis on
marketing

and communication practices.

K
eywords:
corporate social responsibility,

sustainable marketing, meetings, events,

environmental marketing




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2


Introduction


This conceptual paper seeks to

create new pathwa
y
s between sustainability;

marketing and the
meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition (MICE)
i
ndustry
.
In this paper, the authors
e
xplore

how planners in the

MICE
industry can create events that are more sustainable
.
For
simplicity sake, all
meetings, incentives, convention
s

and exhibition
s

will be referred to as
events
.

We seek to give planners a model for integrating
environmental and social responsibility
into traditional ev
e
nt planning
.
The use of “sustainability” as another lens (outside of economic
considerations
)

can create a differen
t prod
u
ct (the
event
) as well as impact the process (event
planning)
.
Sustainable marketing also has the opportunity to influence participants’ behavior.


With marketing serving to encourage consumption, it is not su
rprising that marketing can be

seen
as l
ess than sustainable
.
Likewise, many events include large
-
scale production elements,
entertainment, and “shows” creating a similar impression about the lack of sustainability
.

And
while neither activity will ever be completely sustaina
ble, we regard chang
ing
views about
resource management, shifting consumer demands and a longer
-
term focus on corporate social
responsibility
as
a new opportunity
for planners
to apply the concept of sustainable marketing to
event
s.


Today, sustainability is often defined
based on the definition of sustainable development put
forth by the World Commission on Economic Development (WCED) in its report, Our Common
Future
, in

1987.

According to the WCED, sustainable development is defined as development
that meets the needs of

the present without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs (WCED, 1987). The commission further asserted that sustainable
development required the simultaneous adoption of environmental, economic, and equity
principles. Cur
rently, the definition is commonly referred to as the Brundtland Commission
definition

as

the
WCED

was later named the Brundtland Commission
.
Thus sustainability is
defined as a balanced focus on economic, social (sociocultural), and environmental issues



the
three pillars
.
The authors differentiate between
environmental sustainability (“g
reening”) and the
holistic approach to sustainability


Sustainable Marketing

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3


Current trends indicate a strong interest in sustainable meetings by planners. The "2009 State of
the Sustainable M
eeting Industry" report, from Meeting Strategies Worldwide, finds that about
half of all professional planners


51% of independent planners, 47% of corporate planners, and
44% percent of association and government planners


are going green, and corporate

belt
-
tightening is contributing to the trend (Meet Green). The 2010 study by the American Society of
Association Executives (ASAE) noted that 69% of members had eco
-
friendly practices in place
at their meetings and another 11% planned to do so in the next

year. This is a twenty percent
increase from the 2007 results (Kornegay, 2011).


While m
arketing
and events
may be seen as the antithesis of the concept

of sustainability
, we
propose to show a pathway for planners to use marketing to achieve a more sustai
nable product,
process and impact on the participants attending the
event
.


Literature

Review



We examine two
threads of literature in our review: marketing definitions

and

marketing
management
,

planning


and strategy
.
These two areas provide the conceptual basis upon which
we can build a conceptual model for planners involved in events and marketing.

Marketing: Definitions


The MICE industry’s “greening” and environmental focus towards sustainable marketing cannot
be justified without comprehending the entire realm of marketing theories that surround and
influence the building block of sustainability.
The idea of sustainable
marketing travels under
various names with numerous nuances depending on the focus on environmental sustainability or
a more holistic (three
-
pillars) approach to sustainability
.
Various scholars have developed
concepts
:
(1)
social

marketing
,
(
2
)
societal
marketing,

(3)
green marketing (Peattie, 199
2 as
cited in Fuller, 1999, p. 3
; Ottman, 199
3

as cited in Fuller, 1999, p. 3
), (
4
) ecological marketing
(Fisk, 1974; Hen
nison and Kinnear,

1976), (
5
)
sustainable marketing
, (6)

greener marketing
(Charter, 1992),
and
(
7
) environmen
tal marketing (Coddinton, 1993 as cited in Fuller, 1999, p.
3
)
.
Due to overlaps in definitions

and
subtle

nuances
, t
he literature review presented here wil
l
provide a background of five
marketing

terms,

their origins and how they impact sustainability
.
Sustainable Marketing

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4


These include
social marketing, societal marketing, green marketing, ecological marketing, and
sustainable marketing
.


Social Marketing

Companies need to pay closer attention to their
social marketing

and

embed this marketing form
to reach their sustainable goals in the
twenty
-
first

century
.
The term
social marketing

was coined
in the early 1970’s, and its overtones can be seen in the present day
.
Social marketing

is the
driver needed to persuade and impro
ve the quality of life for citizen
s
. As put forth by Kotler and
Roberto (1989)
social marketing

can be classified as a social change management which offers a
framework with which to change unhealthful or unsocial behavior of others. It is a form of
market
ing tactics for the good of citizens
.



Societal Marketing

Social marketing was criticized by early marketing pundits and the tendency for companies to
confuse it with
societal marketing
.
The extension to the
societal marketing

looked at going
beyond just the role of advertising and mass media to convey the social marketing message
.
According to Schwartz (1971

) the
societal marketing

concept encourages firms to “
market
goods and services that will satisfy consumers under circum
stances that are fair to consumers
and that enable them to make intelligent purchase decisions, and counsels firms to avoid
marketing practices which have d
ubious consequences for society
.


To date, most programs that
foster sustainable behavior have been

information intensive. In these campaigns, media
advertising and the distribution of printed materials are used to foster behavior change
.
In short,
societal marketing
is concerned with ensuring that commercial marketers go about their business
properly,
without prejudicing either their customers or society as a whole. (Baker, 2003).


Green Marketing

The efforts to meet demands
presented by the growing

population in the
twenty
-
first

century
posed a challenging front for marketers
.
At the start of the
twenty
-
first century, the consequences
faced by the world as a result of the aggressive pursuit of economic growth are crystal clear. The
world is faced with a significant imbalance
,

rising levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere,
a hole in the ozone

layer caused by CFC releases, widespread destruction of the rain forests, and
Sustainable Marketing

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5


a growing list of endangered species and ecosystems a
re just a few of the indicators (Belz and
Peattie, 2009;
Baker, 2003). During the 1980’s
the
environmental

mind
set

increased

and
a
“green
buyer” mentality gr
ew
in parts of Europe and
North America. As a result
green marketing

or
environmental marketing

products were produced, targeted

to green customers that had the
ability and desire to spend more on products that were more ec
ological friendly

(Belz and
Peattie
, 2009)
.
Baker (2003) defines
g
reen marketing

as “the holistic management process
responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying the needs of customers and society, in a
profitable and sustainable wa
y.” The two
challenges faced by
g
reen marketing

need to be
underscored
.
Ecological and social issues have become major macro influences on companies
and the markets within which they operate in the short term. In the longer term, as companies
continue to embark on their sustainability journey, companies need to make fundament
al
changes where management paradigm shifts are necessary, this underpins marketing and the
other business functions (Shrivastava, 1994). The stark difference between
societal

and
green

marketing
is that the former is aimed
at

elevating particular society
concerns and
the
latter is
taking a global concern prospective
.
Green marketing

may be simple and easy to
comprehend;

however,

the challenges arise when it is put into action. Marketers’ interest in eco
-
performance
may reflect external drivers of legislati
on, customer demand and public opinion, or internal
drivers relating to top management commitment, corporate strategy or the pursuit of competitive
advantage (Bannerjee, 1999).


Ecological Marketing

The environmental con
cern of the 1970s led to the g
reen m
arketing
wave which in turn spawned
the
ecological marketing

concept (Hennison
&

Kinnear, 1976). The focus of
e
cological
marketing

stems from acknowledging a looming ecological calamity and the willingness for
marketers to assume responsibility to avoid this fate.
E
cological marketing

is

largely concerned
with those industries with the most severe environmental impacts, and with deve
loping new
technologies to alleviate particular environmental problems. In both the
ecological

and societal
marketing concepts, the emphasis on socio
-
environmental issues for marketers has mostly been
framed in terms of costs and constraints (Baker, 2003).



Sustainable Marketing

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6



Sustainable Marketing

Fuller
(1999, p. 4)
defines

sustainable marketing
as:

The process of planning, implementing, and controlling the development, pricing,
promotion, and
distribution

of products
in a

manner that
satisfies

the following
three criteria: (1
)

customer needs are met, (2) organizational goals are
attained
,
and (3
)

the process is
compatible

with ecosystems.


Sustainable marketing

is considered a macro marketing notion whereby the notion of sustainable
developmen
t is embraced
(Belz

& Peattie, 2009). It is where ecological, social and economic
issues
unite
.
In summary,
sustainable marketing

is considered a holistic marketing that is
ecological driven, viable, ethical and r
elationship based. It is a long
-
term approa
ch to marketing
that is considered “improved” marketing that draws from these viewpoints and is intended to
endure (Belz
& Peattie,

2009)
.
Like Andersone and Gaile
-
Sarkane (2010
, p. 199
), we adopt the
perspective that
sustainable marketing

is a contemporary umbrella
marketing term

than
encompasses

cause
-
related marketing, social marketing, corporate social res
ponsibility and green
marketing.


Marketing
Management,
Planning

and Strategy


Marketing strategy
can

be defined as the total sum of
the integration of

segmentation, targeting,
differentiation, and positioning strategies designed to create,

communicate, and deliver an offer
to a target market (El
-
Ansary, 2006) with an interplay of three forces “the strategic three Cs” the
customer, the competition, and the corporation” (Emery,
2000
)
.
El
-
Ansary presents taxonomy of
marketing strategy concepts
and integrative frameworks that differentiate and integrate
marketing
formulation
from marketing
implementation processes
.
He
notes

that marketing

strategy as a sub
-
discipline of marketing is not well documented (El
-
Ansary, 2006
)
.
He notes
that marketing s
trategies are segmentation, targeting, differentiation, and positioning. Marketing
management is a program designed for

marketing strategy implementation
.

This distinction is
important as we examine how
to

des
ign and implement
a
marketing strategy into
an

event in a
way
that incorporate
s

the strategic, structural, and

management/operations antecedents to
creating customer value.


Sustainable Marketing

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7



Various scholars have addressed the view of marketing
planning (
Pujari & Wright, 1996;
Banerjee, 1999; Wehrmeyer, 1999
; Arnold

& Quelch, 1998)
.

Ultimately, m
arketing is vital to an
enterprises’ strategic management
.
A failure in marketing can block

an organization from
achieving
its
goals
.
Marketing strategy is considered one vital link to overall efficiency as well
executed mark
eting plans increase customer loyalty and decrease custome
r defections (Hill &
Jones, 2010
).


The execution of
event
s requires
planning;

likewise the execution of marketing requires
planning
.
In the literature, we discovered a theoretical framework which offered an interesting
foundation upon which
to
analyze and build a framework for sustainable marketing for events
.
Kärnä, Hansen and Juslin

(2003) conducted an empirical study to measure, desc
ribe, and
compare how social responsibility is
emphasized

in the values of members of the forestry wood
value chain in four European countries
.

They utilized a framework based on Juslin’s (1992,
1994 as cited in Kärnä,
et al.
, 2003) integrated model of ma
rketing planning which also
incorporate
s

concepts
mentioned
Ansoff (1965, as cited in Kärnä,
et al.
,2003) and Shirley, Peters
and El
-
Ansary
(1981
, as cited in Kärnä,
et al.
,2003
)
.
In their framework
,

environmental
marketing
is
integrated into
marketing

decisions on
three

hierarchical levels: marketing
strategies, structures and

functions. Environmental marketing planning
is also

based on business

values
emphasizing

social and environmental responsibility
.
Their framework is shown in Figure
1
.


They no
te that the implementation of strategies is not possible without structures which account
for environmental issues
.
Marketing structures and functions should carry out and support the
environmental marketing strategies
.
Without a strong connection and inte
rrelationship among
strategies, structures and functions, an organization can make unfounded claims about their
performance leading to greenwashing
1
.






1

Terrachoice describes greenwashing as the act of misleading consumers regardin
g the environmental practices of
a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. (The Seven Sins of Greenwashing,
http://sinsofgreenwashing.org)

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Figure 1

Theoretical framework (Kärnä, et al., Figure 2., 2003)




Intersection of

Marketing

within
Event
s


With marketing s
erving to encourage consumption and many events encouraging
consumption,
it

is not surprising that
both c
an been seen as less than sustainable
.
And while neither activity will
ever be completely sustainable,
most organizations accep
t the need to be more socially and
environmentally responsible
by
creating
a new opportunity to apply the concept of sustainable
marketing to
event
s.


In the traditional framework of
event
marketing
2
, the
discipline focuses on

promoting
consumption through market segmentation, targeting , differentiation and positioning using the
four Ps of product, pricing, promotion and place
.
In the context of events,
marketing may include
some or most of these elements


in the case of publ
ic sporting events, public trade shows (
e.g.,
the garden show)
, association

event
s, franchise
event
s, etc
.
as these organizations use marketing
to entice participants to “consume” the product by attending
.
However, in other cases, like
corporate
event
s, se
gmentation, targeting

and

differentiation are less important as the audience



2

We use the term
event marketing

to distinguish it from traditional, pure marketing.

Sustainable Marketing

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9


is a captive; the participants do not have a choice about attending
.
Due to their position in the
company, the

participants
have been segmented and targeted to attend
.


Despite
the differences between product marketing and marketing an event, marketing remains a
critical component of an event
.
Even at events where m
arketing
is n
ot about purchasing the
“right to attend
,

marketing
is certainly about

consuming


the main messages of the event
.
Thus, planners are focused on correctly marketing using placement or distribution through
typical
event

messaging channels including signage, name
badges
, graphics, PowerPoint
presentations, handouts, materials, save
-
the
-
d
ate promotions, invitations, promotional products,
banners, newsletters, daily trade show papers, etc.


Rationale for a Focus on Sustainable Marketing within
Event
s


In the United States,
the
natural environment did not have a significant impact on marketi
ng
practices until the 1970s
, due to l
imited regulation and ambivalence or lack of focus with respect
to environmentalism or Corpora
te Social R
esponsibility (CSR) (Menon & Menon, 1997, p. 52)
.
Sustainability has become a critical part of most organization
s

today (Epstein,
Buhovac

and
Yuthas
, 2010)
.
According to Ludema, Laszlo and Lynch (2012), sustainable value creation is
becoming a key driver of competitive advantage for organizations. They suggest that
organizational leaders are shifting their perspective on sustainability from seeing it as an
obl
igation to seeing it as an opportunity.


Sustainability is and can be embedded in a variety of functions in any organization from supply
chain to product development
.
In addition, we would argue that events have an important role to
play.
Sustainability a
nd “green”
event
s are increasingly relevant
.
The topic is popular in trade
publications (
e.g., Meetingsnet.com.
Green Meetings page
, n.d.; CVENT’s Green Meetings
Made Easy page, n.d.
)

and the
MICE
industry now h
as various st
andards

such as

ISO 20121 and
APEX/ASTM

to guide planners in the execution of more sustainable events.


We would argue that communications is particularly critical
.
Events
are about communication
and how that “message” is
delivered

is a marketing
decision
.
Events
use a v
ariety of tools (signs,
brochures, name badges, presentations with logos, etc.) to carry forth their messages which are
Sustainable Marketing

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10


directly related to marketing
.
Events are ubiquitous affecting organizations of all shapes and
sizes
.
“Historically, face
-
to
-
face meetin
gs have played an important role in the social, and
especially the political life, of Western and non
-
Western societies” (Schwartzman, 1989

as cited
in Arve
y, n.d.
)
.
We consider events as the organizational

grease


that allows
business

to be
transacted.


While planners can start in a variety of areas for increasing the sustainable aspects of their
events
, we would argue that marketing is an ideal starting place
.
We advance this perspective for
six reasons:

1.

First, marketing allows a holistic perspective on
sustainability
,

not a more narrow focus
on “green” or eco
-
friendly activities.

2.

Events

occur
in si
tu
3
.
The in situ nature of
events

requires cooperation between planners,
suppliers and other
event

stakeholders
-

before, during and after the
event
.
Desirable

goals, such as low
er
ing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste, and increasing energy
and water efficiency can only be met if high levels of participation from key stakeholders
occur
.
Thus education must occur throughout the
event

planning process if hi
gher levels
of sustainability are sought
.
This same level of communication and persuasion is required
in sustainable tourism (Weaver, 2008, p. 185)
.


3.

Events

possess unique capabilities to create awareness, educate and model behavior.
Sustainable marketing

offers the opportunity to he
lp drive change
.
When overlaid with
sustainable marketing,
events

hold special communication capabilities
.
Marketing in
events

is centered on a process of man
aging relationships with people. Marketing at an
event
has similar po
ssibilities as that of social marketing
.
Social marketing refers to the
application of marketing principles, concepts and tools to problems of social change
.
Social marketing programs are designed to influence individual’s behavior to improve
thei
r well
-
be
ing or that of society
.
An example of a social marketing message would be

Don’t
T
ext and Drive.


Mothers Against Drunk Driving is an organization dedicated to
social marketing.

4.

P
lanners have more discretion and control over making changes to the marketin
g and
communication elements of their
event
s than other aspects of planning
. For example,



3

In si
tu

is a Latin phrase meaning in the place;
event
s are both produced and consumed in place.

Sustainable Marketing

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11


w
hile
a planner

can determine a destination for
an

event

and select a more sustainable
destination over another choice, the reality is that once the destination or hotel is chosen,
the planner must work within the given
infra
structure

of the hotel or venue or city

to
make the
event

more sustainable
.
For example
, if a city does not support composting,
then the effort

and cost

to compost for one
event

(e.g., hiring a private hauler to take
away the compost)
may be perceived as
greater than
the benefits
.
Marketing is more
independent
.


5.

The marketing function serves

as a management function, a bus
iness process and a
philosophy
.
The marketing discipline can serve as the lens to make decisions, guide the
planning process and serve as an overarching ideal for
events
.

6.

Marketing is influenced by the social, technical and

cultural ecosystem
.
Likewise,
marketing has the capacity to influence the social, technical and cultural ecosystem
.


Organizations have started incorporated environmental and sustainability elements into their
marketing (Menon & Menon, 1997)
.
When buildin
g the business case

for

sustainable
marketing

for
event
s, planners
can find justification
in
five

areas
.



1.

Differentiate the brand
.
This is true for planners and suppliers
.
Suppliers have an
opportunity
to serve

as “partners” for progressive companies,
(Charter, Peattie,
Othman
,

& Polonsky
, 2002
).

2.

Protect reputations
and

build strong brands
.
Corporate reputation results from
perceptions of stakeholder behavior and from brand associations by stakeholders (Menon
& Menon, 1997, p. 63;
Font,
n.d.)

3.

Drive
innovation and creativity
.
When forced with new constraints, the human spirit
often creates better and more innovative solutions
.

4.

Save costs
.
Having a sustainable perspective does not automatically mean additional
costs
. For example, choosing not to prin
t all the event materials will result in initial cost
savings.

5.

Bring a positive element to the
human resource
strategy
.
The people element of the
organization at
an

event can reap tremendous benefits from participating in a sustainable
organization, effort

or
event
.

Sustainable Marketing

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12



Businesses have additional justification to build the business case for sustainability which
is

outside of the scope of this paper
.
However, the existence of these
additional reasons

gives added
credence to the organization valuing
sustainability
.
These
reasons

include investor
influence/social investing (Labadie, 1991 as cited in Menon & Menon, 1997),
avoiding
potentially

restrictive legislation

through self
-
regulation
, etc.



Sustainable Marketing in Action


Building on the framewo
rk of

Kärnä
, Hansen and Juslin

(2003)
, we would propose that planners
can focus
a
sustainable marketing

plan

based on three
hierarchical

levels:



Strategies



Structures



Functions


The

idea of strategies and tactics

aligns with Menon
and

Menon’s
(1997)
review of an
“enviropreneurial marketing strategy
” in

which they outline the d
imension (strategy, core values

and organizational and implementation infrastructure)
.
Kärnä

et al.
(2003)
define
structures

as
the environmental management systems, organization

and contact

channels
.
Menon & Menon
(1997, p. 56) describe organizational and implementation infrastructure
as

including coordination
mechanism, investment (financial and non
-
financial), commitment (resource allocations
committed short or long
-
term) and s
upplier and customer value chain
s
.


The core of sustainable marketing is strategic decisions in which the thr
ee

pillars of sustainability
are
emphasized

and captured as a source of competitive advantage
.
Implementation

of the
strategies

is not possible without structure
.
In the context of
an

event
, structures represent the
organization of the
event

and

the planning process and
decision support systems. Marketing
structures and the marketing functions (communication,
branding,

advertising
, messaging) are
planned and executed so they support the marketing strategies
.
Thus structures and functions are
tools to
implement

strategies
.

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13



These three
hierarchical

levels are influenced by organizational
values as proposed by

Kärnä
, et

al.
(2003)
.
In addition we would note that in the context of
an

event
, the three levels are also
influenced by

the
alignment of the
event

to the
business
values.

Our theoretica
l framework is shown in Figure 2
.


Figure 2

Theoretical Framework for
Sustainable
Event
Marketing




We have built on
Kärnä

et
al
.
’s

(2003)

framework with the addition of the following
mediating
influences:

(1)
champions, (2) awareness
of
stakeholders, and (3) knowledge
of

stakeholders
. We
will now review each element in our framework.




Sustainable Marketing

Page
14




Sustainable Marketing Planning



In the design world, e
nvironmental management
has been a

driving force behind eco
-
(re)design
of e
xisting

products

and eco
-
innovation
which results in the creation of
new

p
roducts (Charter
and Clark, 2007
).

Arthur D. Little
(2004

as cited in Charter and Clark, 2007
) recognized

that the
broader concept of sustainability could also result
in innovation

with

the creation of new market
space,

products and services or processes driven by social, environmental or sustainability
issues.



We will use t
he term
sustainable innovation
and

eco
-
innovation

synonymously

as has
been done by others (Charter and C
lark, 2007
)
.

Marketing has a potent
ial pivotal role to play in
sustainable event marketing

as they sit

at the intersection of
the organization, its stakeholders

and
messaging/branding
.
Any effort to truly embed sustainability into an org
anization requires a
change of
organizational

processes as companies
like InterFace
, Philips and SC Johnson
discovered as they worked to (re)desi
gn eco
-
products (Charter and
Clark
, p. 7
, 29
,
35)
.
This
experience provides a broad context for using the
Kärnä

et al. model

(2003)

as a starting point
for marketing and events
.


We posit that the model results in three different outcomes:

1.

Change
event

planning process and products used (change

process
)

2.

Change
event
s and
messaging

(change
product
)

3.

Change behavior of participants, exhibitors and attendees (change others)


Earlier we noted the nuances between pure marketing and event marketing
.
At

events,

marketing
may include these some or most of the

marketing
elements

(market segmentation, targeting ,
differentiation and positioning using the four Ps of product, pricing, promotion and placement)
depending upon whether the event is a public event or pri
vate event
.
Despite the differences
between product marketing and marketing an event, marketing remains a critical component of
an event
.
Marketing may not be about purchasing the “right to attend” but it is certainly about
consuming the main messages of t
he event
.
Thus, planners are focused on correctly marketing
using placement or distribution through typical
event

messaging channels including signage,
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15


name
badges
, graphics,
PowerPoint presentations, handouts, materials, save
-
the
-
date promotions,
invitations, promotional products, banners, newsletters, daily trade show papers, etc
.
Events will
carry primary messaging


the main purpose for the event
.
However, events can incorporate a
s
econd level
where information is shared
about
sustainability
. Ev
ents have characteristics similar
to small businesses that allow them to be an appropriate channel for messaging
.
Carrigan,
Moraes,
& Leek

(2011
) examine the role
that small

and medium
-
sized enterprises (SMEs) can
have on sustainability
.
They examined smal
l firms in the town of Modbury in the United
Kingdom and found that the owner
-
manager of the SME was critical as SME owners “are often
inseparable from the business in terms of values, policies and practices; the personal motives and
ethics of owner
-
manage
rs and the responsible behavior demonstrated by SMEs are interrelated
(
Carrigan,
Moraes, & Leek, 201
1
, p. 518)
.
In
an

event

environment the champion may take the
form of the owner
-
manager of the
event

(the business owner) and the
owner
-
manager of the
event

planning process (the planner)
.


Mediating Factors

The presence of
champions

in this setting
caused

us to consider the role of champions within
events
.
Whether the champion is the planner or a member of management, the champion can
translate vision into
action. C
hampions are most effective when they possess literacy around
sustainability, awareness of the issue and pro
-
sustainability attitudes (Tilley, 1999 as cited in
Carrigan,
Moraes,
& Leek
, 2011
, p. 519)
.
Tilley’s work
caused

us to add t
wo

additional factors
to
Kärnä et

al
.
’s framework:
Awareness,
knowledge (managerial and technical).
Other scholars
also reinforce the need for
values

(Menon & Menon, 1997; Tilley, 1999

as cited in
Carrigan,
Moraes, & Leek, 2011
, p. 519)


Discussion


This framework allows planners to think more strategically about the role of marketing,
sustainability, messaging and
event
s
.
Our proposed framework demonstrates that sustainable
marketing contributes strategically to an organization in three important way
s through (1)
embedding sustainability in the product, (2) embedding sustainability in the planning process,
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16


and (3) embedding sustainability in the product to drive behavioral change
.
Using our
framework, planners can consider the following strategies, st
ructures and functions to create their
own sustainable marketing plan.


Organizational Values


P
lanners have

the opportunity to act more strategically by aligning their organizations with the
trend toward sustainability or align their
event
s with
existing
organizational values

focused on
sustainability
.
In doing so, planners can protect their organization’s reputations
and help build
stronger brands and
differentiate their company
.
Many people are attracted to organizations that
share similar values
.
Employ
ee involvement in any sustainable process improvements emerges
as an important element in a firm’s environmental responsiveness. Environmental performance
improvements (such as waste minimization) result directly from employee involvement
.
Two
researchers
demonstrated that good environmental practices also had a positive result on
employee satisfaction and loyalty.
Kassinis

and
Soteriou

report on the work of Enz and Sigua
who study
the operations of
four hotel
s


(each

hotel
was named as environmental best

practice
champions in a Cornell University study of best practices in the U.S. lodging industry)
. The
work of Enz and Sigua

indicated that the practices had a positive impact on employee morale
(and thus satisfaction) and enhanced the staff’s pride in th
e hotel
.
Similar results are reported by
Goodman in the case of Scandic hotels (Kassinis

&
Soteriou,
2003
)
.


Furthermore, Kassinis and Soteriou
(2003)
studied the impact of environmental practices on
customer satisfaction, loyalty and market performance
.
T
hey
surveyed
1,238 hotels from the
1999 Official Hotel Guide
.
The target population included hotels in the countries of Austria,
France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Malta and
Monaco
.


Kassinis and Soteriou
tested
the following hypothesis
:

1.

Higher levels of use of environmental management practices lead to

higher levels of
customer satisfaction.

2.

Higher levels of customer satisfaction lead to higher levels of customer

loyalty.


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17


3.

Higher levels of customer loyalty lead t
o higher levels of market

performance.


4.

Higher levels of use of environmental management practices lead to

higher levels of
market performance.



Their results suggested a positive relationship between

environmental practices and customer
satisfaction, bet
ween customer satisfaction and loyalty

and between loyal
ty and performance.
They found hypothesis
1, 2, and 3 to be true
.
These findings are supported by other literature,
which

suggests that performance gains associated with the adoption of environmental
practices
are

related to cost reductions, resource savings, opportunities for innovation, customer
retenti
on

and loyalty

and improved employee morale. In addition, the results are backed by the
service

management and marketing literatures, which show that
improvements in satisfaction
lead to

higher revenues and reduced future transaction costs through improved customer loyalty.



While
Kassinis and Soteriou
expected a positive direct link between environmental
management
practices and

market
performance,

as

outlined in hypothesis
4, the data do not lend support to
this hypothesis. They suggest three reasons
.
First,

the characteristics of se
rvices versus goods
may explain

the lack of a direct relationship between environmental
management
practices and
market
performance
.
Secondly, in future research they advocate the use of finer measures

of
environmental
management
practices that cover the entire

value chain of service activities

(2003)
:



A distinction

between front
-

and back
-
office measures



Measures of

resour
ce savings programs (such as energ
y management measures in hotels)



An

assessment of housekeeping and maintenance practices that reduce impacts, waste
and costs



Consideration of environmentally responsible practices in the

design and construction of
facilit
ies (i.e., the construction of “green” rooms with a longer

average life
)



An evaluation of the use of environmental

information systems that allow customized
reporting, sharing of information among

managers and also provide a benchmarking
system


Third,
Ka
ssinis and Soteriou
cited the need to consider issues related to suppliers. They point to
the importance of supplier

service provider collaboration to achieve environmental innovations
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18


that reduce the production of waste and the introduction of environment
al considerations in the
selection of goods provided.


Thus, a focus on sustainable marketing can help retain the best staff appealing to their altruistic
side and echoing values that are important to them
.


As stakeholders
,

employees and suppliers are important in value
alignment
; yet another
critical

stakeholder group is senior management
.
Planners

need to recognize that investigating

the
attitudes and behaviors of senior

marketing managers toward
sustainable marketing
can
enhance
the

understanding of the challenges relating to implementing

sustainability within firms, as
well

as the drivers associated with integrating sustainability

into activities.


Strategies

In
Kärnä
et

al.’s

(2003)

framework this element consists of strategies for products, customers and
competitive advantage
.
In our Sustainable Marketing Planning model, strategies

follow a parallel
structure.


Product:

The strategy of the product is set by

event

design

which

answe
r
s

the question “How
sustainable do we want to be?” as this strategy will determine how a
planner

can position the
event

and what is the appropriate messaging
.
Will we pursue a confined strategy or a more
holistic
strategy

where

the organization c
onsider
s
all

three pillars of sustainability when mapping
strategy of
event
? The
s
e two

question
s define

the product
.


Customer:

Customer decisions revolve around
two
questions:

(1) what do our customers want

and
(2) if we change our
event
, will our
participants

be less satisfied with a more sustainable
product
.
Anecdotally
, one of the authors remembers a conversation with a planner years ago
where she commented, “My senior management will never give up their bottled water.”


While
over the course of five years
when this conversation took place, the prevalence and acceptability
of bottled water has changed, all planners must still focus on creating a product that delivers the
right type of value for their customers
.
All event attendees are not the same and basic
marketing
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19


strategies of understanding their demographic and
psychographic

profiles and understanding
their preferences/needs/requirements remain the same.


Competitive Advantage:

Events compete against other events
.
In addition, events compete for
“mindshare” from the participants
.
Thus the strategy around competitive advantage is formulated
by asking
two

questions:

(1)

will we attract new customers (participants) if we create a

more
sustainable event

and (2) what are like
-
events and very different

events doing which might
impact our events?



Ultimately, any planning sy
s
tem is about prioritizing
.
In assessing what changes are appropriate
for a sustainable marketing planning process, it can be useful to assess where is the “low hanging
fruit.” Th
e following questions will help
planners

assess the
organizational

readiness for the
change:


What is the potential impact of the change?



What barriers exist to engaging in this change?


What resources exist to overcome the identified barriers?



Structures

In
Kärnä
et

al.’s framework this element consists of management, operations and planning and
information systems.


Management:

Functionally, a planner must understand who is on the team
.
This gives rise to
four critical questions: (1
) Who

are the players?
, (2)

Who is the
event

owner?
, (3)

How can this
organization d
evelop a learning
orientation
that constantly rethinks aspects of sustainability
?

and
(4)

How will management e
ncourage staff and employees to adopt a philosophy of
sustainab
ility
?


Operations:


With a team in place, a planner must consider how they will produce an event with
sustainable marketing elements
.
Thus, they will
face four

questions: (1)
How do I need to
reorganize my organization?
, (2)

W
hat new resources are requir
ed?, (3)

What re
-
allocation of
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20


resources can occur?
and (4)

How will I
as
sess

(e.g.,
Life Cycle analysis
)

the environmental
impact of the manufacturing, content, package, label advertising, distribution, use
and disposal of
products used?



Planning and
Information

Systems:

Planners operate using a known system consisting of
checklists, standards
, forms and templates
.
Introducing

a new element into the planning process
requires that the entire process needs to be re
-
thought
.
Planners

will ask themselves
these
questions: (1)
How do I need to
reorganize my planning processes
?,

(2)

How will the
organization m
ake business decisions based on three pillars of sustainability
?
,

(3) How will the
organization

d
efine relationships with suppliers, participants and
other key stakeholders
?
, and
(4) W
ill we need

new

relationships to supplement existing
relationships
?


Once a planner has built a new planning process for themselves incorporating sustainable
marketing, they will want to tell their story which will requ
ire appropriate
metrics

and data
.
Thus, creating the need to understand (1)
What
data do I need?
, (
2)
Who
has the data?, (3)
How
will I use the data?, (4)
How
will I convey the information in a compelling and interesting way
that supports the
event

and the

organization?


Functions

In
Kärnä

et al.’s

(2003)
framework this element consists of
advertising, communication,
marketing information and pricing
.
The new function in sustainable marketing is education
.
Education begins with the planner self
-
educating and extends to staff and
event

owners
.
However, education does not stop at the
organization’s

formal
boundaries

as more stakeholders
need education including: (1)

suppliers
, (2)
attendees/participants

and
(3)

other stakeholders
(
i.e., e
xhibitors
, sponsors
)
.
Pl
anners can heed lessons learned

in tourism management
.
McKercher (as cited in Weaver, 2008, p. 181) reveals a “fundamental truth’ about tourists when
he states that tourists are concerned with being e
ntertained
.
Likewise, planners must work to
create interpretation, a distinctive form of education that goes beyond the simple disclosure of
facts to instead reveal meanings and relationships
.
Interpretation should be
enjoyable
,
entertaining, personally
relevant,

well organized and thematic (
Weaver, 2008, p. 185)
.
Just a
s a

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21


tourist can walk away or tune out messages

while on vacation,
an

event participant can also tune
out during
an

event. This accentuates the

importance of
marketing
.

Education can take
the
following

forms:



Craft marketing messages that connect sustainable attributes with desired value



Frame environmental product attributes as solutions for
specific

participant needs



Create engaging and educational internet sites



Secure endorsements or eco
-
certifications from trustworthy third parties and educate
consumers about the meaning behind those endorsements and
eco
-
certifications



Encourage participant evangelism via social media

Education may result in the following behavi
oral changes:



Alter preferences



Reduce consumption



Change habits (eliminate bad habits, promote good habits)



Seek assistance or donations



Improve the environment



Create awareness in others


As a result of following a sustainable marketing planning process
as s
pecified, planners will
realize

changes in the product, their process and participant behavior
.
Each of these outcomes is
sketched out below to identify potential outcomes.


Change the Product

As a result of changes in the planning process, the resulta
nt product will change
.
This suggests
the following functions which would directly impact the product:

1.

Seek out environmental friendly products

2.

Seek out standards or certifications

3.

Evaluate eco
-
labels and other claims of environmental friendliness

4.

Promote

sustainable practices in advertising, promotion and communication

5.

Use online methods of communication



Electronic ticketing and reservations systems



Online registration

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22


6.

Use e
lectronic rooming lists
,

room layouts and banquet event orders

7.

Create o
nline
program/agenda

8.

Create o
nline exhibitor kits

9.

Downloadable speaker presentations and handouts

10.

Supply e
lectronic event evaluations

11.

Signage



Limit the number of signs necessary at the event



Design signs for reuse (don’t include the date or location)



Make signag
e from recycled or recyclable or biodegradable materials



Use electronic signage whenever possible

12.

Minimize printing or make responsible choices



Avoid use of printed materials



Use post
-
consumer recycled content paper (minimum 30%) that is unbleached or
blea
ched without chlorine



Use vegetable
-
based inks



Print double
-
sided

13.

Repurpose conference supplies



School programs



Leverage venue of CVB about donation programs

14.

Donat
e
wood products from exhibit halls

15.

Reuse name badges

16.

Recycle name badges


Change the
Process

By ad
opting a sustainable marketing mindset
, planners will change their planning process
.
As a
driver, sustainable marketing can affect supply chain management, vendor selections and
sourcing practices
.
Ultimately, sustainable marketing can
drive i
nnovation and creativity

and
potentially s
ave costs
.

The path toward sustainability in any aspect of an event is never ending
.
The process will
encompass the

idea of continuous improvement
.
Failing to seek improvement and innovation is
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23


definitely an
unsustainable business practice
.
Author Daniel Goleman
(2009)
uses the term
“perpetual upgrades” when talking about industrial process
.
The idea has merit for event
planning and sustainable marketing:

“The logic of the perpetual upgrade tells us that we w
ill
have to constantly reinvent and rethink almost all industrial processes if we are ever to make
them truly sustainable. Competition and marketplace transparency will create inexorable
pressure to continuously rais
e the bar on ecological impacts


(Golema
n, 2009)
.

Change Behavior

The 3R’s are a common mantra around environmental sustainability: Reduce, reuse
and recycle
.
When thinking about
event
s, marketing has another
redirect
.
W
hile theoretically
most people

see
the need to consume less
or
consume diff
erently, the reality of human behavior and of
event
s is
t
hat we will continue to consume
.
Therefore, it is necessary that sustainable marketing redirect
or
reorient
people to consume more
preferable products/services/practices
.


Consumer sensitivity to issues
related to sustainability
does not always translate into purchase
behavior
.
It is the responsibility of
sustainable
marketing to use their communication and
promotional tools to convert this latent desire actions
, behavior

an
d activities
.


Finally, by creating a sustainable event,
event

planners can change behavior
.
Participants can
receive behavior cues from the messaging in the
event

and the execution of the
event
.
Carrigan,
Moraes, & Leek (2011, p. 516) ascribe that consu
mption is deeply intertwined with social
relations and norms, thus making individual behavior change towards sustainability a
matter

of
facilitation change in individual behavior, as well as in social norms and relations...” Events, by
their nature, have social norms and relations, which can be changed


especially when new
norms are explicitly stated (marketed), promoted through soci
al cues and modeled through
behavior
.


Carrigan et al.
(2011, p. 521)
discuss how inconsistencies around attitudes and behaviors can be
resolved

if one considers that behavior is constrained by
lack of alternatives and product
confusion
.
Although people m
ight

wan
t

to make the right individual choice, they are challenged
by the insecurities o
f

not knowing what the “right choices are (Connolly and Prothero, 2008 as
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24


cited in Carrigan et al. (2011, p. 521)
.
Event
s offer the opportunity for people to do the rig
ht
thing as they are offered an alternative (e.g., composting whereas composting is not offered to
them in their work or residential environment) and they are clearly directed by marketing on
what is the right choice
,

thus eliminating confusion.


Marketing

is also critical to provide messaging around incentives to change participant behavior
.
Consider the example of recycling
name badges
.
This is an easy, cost
-
saving measure to reuse an
everyday
event

communication tool
.
If this process of how to recycle th
e
name badge

is not
marketed correctly, people will revert to their habits
and,

likely, leave with their
name badges

still on their lapels or around their necks
.
They have every intention of recycling but it is not
“everyday”
event

behavior which
occurs

wi
th little cognitive
deliberation
.
Recycling
name
badges

for many participants is not a routinized behavior yet. To unfreeze behavior using
Lewin’s model of behavioral change may require what Jackson (2005
, p 521

as cited in Carrigan,
et al. 2011) cites as “behavior
lock
-
ins
” through the “creation of appropriate institutional
structures and incentives.” Translated into an event setting


creating obvious stations/boxes
with appropriate signage reminding people to
recycle their name badges situat
ed

in the right
place (placement to reiterate the 4P’s of marketing) and possibly offering an incentive like

Recycle

your name badge and you could win a [
discount
} to our next association event” or

Recycle

your name badge
and you could win a [fill in the blank]”

Ultimately
, we would expect
that as participants repeat these behaviors at
multiple

event
s, their cognitive processing will
diminish (they no longer need to think about
recycling

their name badge) and the
behavior

will
become automatic prompted by norms and contextual cues (I am leaving the
event
).


Change is never easy


especially behavioral change
.
Griskevicius,
Cantú
and van Vugt (2012)
explore

the evolutionary bases for behavior
.
They pose the question “Why do
humans continue
to degrade the environment and experience social problems?” (Griskevicius, et al.,

2012,

p. 117)
.
They answer that question by posing five ancestral tendencies: (1)

propensity for self
-
interest, (2)
desire for relative status, (3)
unconsciously copying the behavior of others, (4) valuing the
present over the future and (5) disregarding impalpable concerns (Griskevicius
, et al., 2012
)
.
Of
these five tendencies, events create the opportunity to use these hard
-
wired modes of thinking t
o
change to sustainable thought


unconsciously copying the behavior of others and disregarding
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25


impalpable concerns
.
H
umans have evolved to instincti
vely copy and mimic the behavior of
others
.
This behavior is an adaptive strategy that

allows humans to
m
inimize

the

cost of
individual trial and error
.
Griskevicius, et al. (21012, p. 121) cite the example of how energy use
in the home is affected by the behavior of neighbors although the home residents state that the
behavior of their neighbors has the leas
t effect on their own conservation habits
.
Events are
superb
opportunities

to allow humans to observe, learn and mimic sustainable behaviors like
recycling, using refillable water bottles or composting
.
Messaging both pre
-
event and during the
event can sup
port learning these behaviors
.
Again, Griskevicius, et al. (2012, p. 122) caution to
use positive messaging; they advocate avoiding message such as “83% of people are no
t
recycling” but instead creating

powerful messaging about the desirable behaviors tha
t people are
exhibiting.


The tendency to disregard

impalpable concerns captures the idea that a general lack of concern is
often due to skepticism, apathy, a lack of knowledge and also, importantly, an inability to grasp
large
-
scale but slow
-
moving envi
ronmental problems
.
They note “our brains have simply not
evolved to ring the
alarm

when confronted with novel
dangers

rarely faced in our past, such as
position
” (
Griskevicius, et al., 2012, p. 124)
.
In today’s world we also lack the tangible
connection b
etween behavior and the environment
.
For example, people do not see how food is
grown
, how it is processed, packaged

and transported to us
.
Sustainable events often post
information about the food
-
miles traveled for specific items offered for
eating

and drinking
.
This
type of marketing messaging begins to make the visceral more real as people begin to see the
connection between their eating habits and the costs behind each non
-
local item
.


Other ideas present in the literature about behavior change

suggest that an event can harness
many intrinsic elements (social setting, leadership, role modeling) to affect behavior change
through catalytic individuals/
opinion leadership

(Rogers, 2003, p. 27),
power base of the
converts (Menon & Menon, 1997),
earl
y adaptors (Rogers, 2003)

or

a “trusted bridge (Carrigan,
et al., 20
11)
.
The scope of this paper is not to delve into the dynamics within the context of the
event

“conversation” itself. Thus, the

existence of these elements as well as those discussed
above

sufficiently
document
s

the opportunity for behavioral change
.

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26


Limitations



From a theoretical perspective, our framework allows planners to think more strategically about
the role of
event
s as a channel for creating sustainable messages and as a channel

for creating
awareness and
,

potentially
,

behavioral change
.
However, this framework is entirely theoretical
and has not been empirically tested.

Moreover, we have operated under the assumption that it is
appropriate to take a model used in the forestry i
ndustry for marketing and reposition the same
framework in the MICE industry.


Many of the advantages of sustainable marketing derive from considering the
messaging

of the
event
.
M
any planners do not control
the content of the
event
.

S
ome of the benefits of sustainable
marketing are
derived from

the
event

message
.
We posit that
,

although planners see events as
strategic
,

until they have
a
link

between

content

and messaging
, the model may be of limited
application to planners.

Conclusion


The proposed framework allows planners to think more strategically about the role of marketing,
sustainability
, messag
ing and
event
s
.
Our proposed framework demonstrates that sustainable
marketing contributes strategically to an organization in three
important ways through (1)
alignment with sustainability
-
oriented values, (2) embedding sustainability in the planning
process

and (3) embedding sustainability in the product to drive behavioral change.


P
lanners have

the opportunity to act more strategica
lly by aligning their organizations with the
trend toward sustainability or align their
event
s with organizational values
.
In doing so, planners
can protect their organization’s reputations and help build stronger brands

and

differentiate their
company
.
Ma
ny people are attracted to organizations that share similar values
.
Thus, a focus on
sustainable
marketing

can
help

retain the best
staff appealing

to their altruistic side and echoing
values that are important to them
.


By ad
opting a
sustainable

marketin
g mindset
, planners will change their planning process
.
As a
driver, sustainable marketing can affect supply chain management, vendor selections and
Sustainable Marketing

Page
27


sourcing practices
.
Ultimately, sustainable marketing can
drive innovation and creativity

and
potentially s
ave costs
.


Finally, by creating a sustainable event, planners can change behavior
.
Participants can receive
behavior cues from the messaging in the
event

and the execution of the
event
.
A focus on leaving
the community better than before the
event

was he
ld there (legacy projects) can m
otivate p
eople
and offer them a chance to give back
.


Having a clearer understanding of organizational phenomena like
sustainable
event
marketing and
implementation

through
events is one way we hope to give back to the indu
stry.


Hopefully, o
ur efforts
will influence planners and
,

in one small way
,

pave
a clearer path toward sustainable events through the
marketing discipline
.




























Sustainable Marketing

Page
28


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