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P4.4: Marketing Practices


Companies will align their marketing practices and product revenue targets with their sustainability goals, and will market designed for sustainability products and services with at least the same effort as the marketing of other products.
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DuPont set its first set of market-facing sustainability goals aimed at developing solutions to help its customers be more sustainable in 2006. According to its 2012 GRI report, as of 2011, the company has invested $823 million in R&D for products that reduce environmental impacts, well exceeding its 2015 goal of $640 million. Read more...

Check out Roadmap in Action for more examples of how companies are implementing the Ceres Roadmap.

Products designed to meet sustainability criteria or to meet sustainability challenges should be promoted with as much financial investment as other products. Companies should set revenue targets for their sustainable product offerings to ensure their scale and success beyond niche markets.

Long-established concerns about the appropriateness of marketing of certain categories of products to particular audiences will continue to grow. This trend has already moved beyond questions of vulnerability – the marketing of violent video games or junk food to children or of credit products to the poor – to more general questions of appropriateness, such as the marketing of alcohol or tobacco to adults.

Companies need to have strong marketing codes that highlight and address sustainability issues in line with sustainability commitments, but they also need to demonstrate that these codes are being implemented through clear systems and accountabilities.

Marketing and product promotion efforts should be an authentic reflection of the company’s sustainability policies. Making false or irrelevant claims of sustainability merely risks running afoul of marketing codes such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Green Guides, or of exposure and judgment at internet speed by consumers engaged in social media. While false claims should be avoided, setting out the company’s stance on the need for responsible marketing policies are encouraged.


In the The Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on The Ceres Roadmap For Sustainability, we evaluated 600 of the largest U.S. companies on their progress towards meeting the expectations laid forth in the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability using data compiled and analyzed by Sustainalytics.

For this first report it was not possible to capture all of the data required to fully assess all of The Ceres Roadmap expectations.  For some Ceres Roadmap expectations, companies are not yet disclosing the information needed to assess their progress and in other cases, we did not have access to the type of data needed to adequately assess corporate progress.

We will be looking at additional indicators in the future to capture the meaning of the expectations more completely and will develop new indicators to capture data as it is more readily disclosed by companies.