Ethical marketing, a topic that I’m truly passionate about, keeps inspiring me and many marketers. Since late 2019, when we first predicted that “leading brands will differentiate with ethical marketing to build long-term value” and presented the topic at Forrester’s Summit Asia Pacific 2020, we’ve seen early adopters make tremendous progress in their ethical marketing journey.

Forrester defines ethical marketing as:

The process by which companies market their products and services by focusing not only on how their products benefit customers but also how they benefit socially responsible or environmental causes.

Values-motivated consumers are becoming mainstream in Asia Pacific (APAC). Forrester consumer data shows that 45% of online adults in Australia, 72% in metro China, and 75% in metro India regularly purchase from brands or companies that align with their personal values. As a result, ethical marketing is now among many organizations’ top marketing priorities. According to Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2022, 23% of B2C marketing decision-makers in APAC consider “increasing focus on sustainability in product development, branding, and messaging” to be the most important to their organization’s marketing strategy over the next 12 months, and 18% believe “ensuring our brand and marketing communications promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)” is the most important.

However, achieving these priorities will not be easy. A whopping 60% of B2C marketing decision-makers in APAC found that “ensuring our brand and marketing communications promote DEI” will be difficult or very difficult to achieve in the next 12 months. Another 56% felt the same for “increasing focus on sustainability in product development, branding, and messaging.”

Indeed, implementing a successful ethical marketing strategy is not easy. CMOs need to carefully balance customer value and business value. Otherwise, marketing may end up being the scapegoat for financial underperformance, like in this Unilever example. When brands are in a difficult situation that can’t please everyone (like Samsung’s ad in Singapore), should they stand firm with their cause or compromise? What if your ethical marketing initiatives encounter more complexities, such as compliance, aesthetics, religion, and localization? How can you move your ethical marketing practices forward with the right strategy, operations, and commitment? How can you avoid pitfalls like greenwashing?

To learn more, please join my session, “Ethical Marketing Helps Brands Differentiate And Build Trust,” on May 10 at Forrester CX APAC 2022. We look forward to seeing you there!