Marketing for a Sustainable Future

Marketing for a Sustainable Future:
Positive Consumer Behaviour

Can smart business and eco-minded sustainability coexist? Absolutely, according to experts like Dr Rory Mulcahy, who says there is ample evidence that companies who embrace sustainability can not only weather economic uncertainty but also thrive in the long term.

As the world grapples with climate change, biodiversity loss, and social inequality, both consumers and businesses are increasingly recognising the importance of sustainability.

From recycling and reducing waste to conserving energy and supporting ethical practices, sustainability is no longer just a buzzword; it's a critical part of our collective future.

In fact, leading businesses that adapt and innovate their practices to meet sustainability goals can outperform their rivals and improve the wellbeing of consumers and society. Rory, who is a senior lecturer at UniSC’s School of Business and Creative Industries, says through his experience in researching and practicing sustainability marketing, three insights have emerged:

Dr Rory Mulcahy

Dr Rory Mulcahy


Consumers are emotional, not rational

When it comes to sustainability, many of us like to think we're rational creatures who make decisions based on logic and reason. After all, we're presented with facts and figures about the impact of our choices on the planet, so it seems natural we would weigh up the costs and benefits of our actions and make informed decisions.

But the truth is when it comes to sustainability behaviours, we're often driven by our emotions, not our rational minds. We care about the environment not just because it makes logical sense to protect the planet, but because we feel a deep emotional connection to the natural world.

When we see images of plastic pollution in the ocean or hear about the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, it tugs at our heartstrings and motivates us to act.

sea turtle

And that's not necessarily a bad thing – after all, our emotions are what make us human, and they can be powerful drivers of positive change. We need to consider this both in our roles as business managers and as consumers in enacting positive change for sustainability.

Read more by UniSC researchers on gamification for sustainability.


Can you make being sustainable fun?

Yes, you can!

Gamification is a powerful tool that can help consumers become more sustainable by making eco-friendly behaviours fun and engaging. By turning sustainability into a game through gamification principles, companies and organisations can tap into our innate desire for competition, achievement, and social connection and motivate us to act in a way that feels rewarding and enjoyable.

For example, a company might create a mobile app that rewards users for taking eco-friendly actions such as recycling, conserving water, or using public transportation. Users can earn points or badges for their actions and compete against friends and family members to see who can have the biggest impact.

This type of gamification can be highly effective at encouraging sustainable behaviours, as it taps into our natural desire for social connection and achievement.

It also helps to make sustainability feel less like a chore and more like a fun and engaging activity that we look forward to participating in. Overall, gamification has great potential to motivate greater action and create a culture of sustainability that is positive, engaging, and enjoyable.

Read more by UniSC researchers on gamification for sustainability.


Hip pocket or saving the trees?

What motivates us to change our behaviour for the better?

While many consumers are motivated to be sustainable for environmental reasons, there is no denying that financial incentives can also be a powerful driver of eco-friendly behaviours. For many people, the prospect of saving money on their utility bills, transportation costs, or grocery bills can be a compelling reason to adopt more sustainable practices.

For example, investing in energy-efficient appliances or upgrading to solar panels can save consumers significant amounts of money over time while reducing their carbon footprint. Similarly, opting for public transportation or cycling instead of driving can help consumers save money on gas and maintenance costs while reducing their impact on the environment.

When financial savings are present, consumers may be more likely to adopt sustainable behaviours, as they can see immediate and tangible benefits to their wallets.

Read more about research from UniSC researchers on this topic.

If you’re looking to build a career that not only generates profit, but also creates positive social and environmental impact, studying business and sustainability together is a worthwhile pursuit.

As businesses and organisations around the world recognise the urgent need for sustainable practices, there is a growing demand for professionals with the knowledge and skills to develop and implement sustainability strategies.

By pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in business and sustainability, you will gain a deep understanding of the complex challenges facing our world, and learn how to use business principles and strategies to create innovative solutions that benefit both society and the planet.

A degree in this field can open doors to a wide range of career opportunities, from sustainability consulting and corporate social responsibility to green finance and environmental policy.

University of the Sunshine Coast

Delve into contemporary business trends and engage in shared real-life management challenges within a team-oriented learning environment. Seamlessly integrate your newfound expertise into your current job, with the flexibility to complete your MBA on campus or online.

Learn more about UniSC’s MBA



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