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APAC marketers are failing to meet sustainability goals


By Danielle Long | Acting APAC Editor

January 11, 2023 | 5 min read

APAC marketers are failing to meet sustainability goals and need a mandate to drive innovation beyond short-term sales KPIs, if they are to drive genuine advances towards sustainable goals.


Dentsu and Kantar

This is the finding of a flagship study by Dentsu and Kantar exploring the role APAC marketers play in achieving corporate sustainability ambitions and goals.

The report found marketing lags behind other divisions when 'executing against their sustainability plans and measuring progress’, with just one in three (34%) of marketing and insights teams currently achieving this.

This compares to 51% of corporate strategy, 46% of supply chains and 44% of public relations and corporate affairs departments.

The report states marketers have a unique opportunity to influence consumer behaviour and drive innovation and suggests a “philosophical revamp” could help drive genuine advances.

The study predicts that brands could drive the behaviour and lifestyle shifts required to achieve 40% - 70% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Dominic Powers, chief growth officer of Dentsu Asia Pacific, said, “Marketers must not only be empowered by businesses to drive innovation that can fuel deep change, but they must also revamp the entire philosophy behind the way the function is designed, which is predicated on selling more.

“It is clear that sustainable consumption has to be the organising principle of marketing teams, who must now instead focus on inspiring people everywhere to a new way of sustainable living. To do this, brands and marketers must reframe their constituents to include ecosystem partners that co-own the sector’s value chain and its carbon footprint.

Dentsu x Kantar sustainability research APAC

“By positioning themselves as the change agent between the larger ecosystem, customers and their company, marketing teams will be uniquely positioned to drive relevant, resonant, step-change innovation that will help ensure a sustainable future for us all.”

The exponential growth of economies across the APAC region has also delivered new and unique responsibilities for creating sustainable habits, lifestyles and cultural practices. However, as climate-related catastrophes across the region also increase, climate issues and eco-anxiety remain a top concern for consumers.

In fact, 98% of Asians said they would actively change their behaviour to be more sustainable; however, just 17% of Asian consumers are.

Trezelene Chan, head of sustainability practice at Kantar APAC said, “We already know that the consumer intention-action gap is a problem for marketers, with 56% identifying it as a major challenge. Our study reveals, however, that the organizational intention-action gap is an equally important challenge to be addressed.

“Although 73% of marketers believe sustainability is important for business continuity and value growth, the study uncovered tactical and fundamental barriers that hinder marketers from taking on meaningful sustainable leadership.

“These include a focus on short-term sales growth targets above all other KPIs, lack of clarity within the marketing function around metrics of success in relation to sustainability goals, and lack of adequate resources or capability building for sustainability within the marketing function.

“Innovation, collaboration and ownership across the different business functions against a clear set of sustainability goals will be required. Sustainability initiatives by the brand need to address consumers’ and the planet’s needs holistically and simultaneously. This means a whole new mindset for marketers and their corporate leaders.”

The study, which is Asia-Pacific’s first exploration into marketers’ role in sustainability, included more than 70 brand marketers in 12 markets across Asia-Pacific.

Modern Marketing Brand Purpose Business Leadership

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