2024 Marketing Trends: Increased Focus On Sustainability And Ethics

We’ve all heard companies shouting about the environment and inclusivity in their messaging. But talk can be cheap, greenwashing is rife, and empty claims around ethics are being called out more and more. And this is before mentioning the breakneck introduction of generative AI, and the anxiety/opportunity conflict that this creates for businesses and consumers alike.

Of course, many companies do practise what they preach in their marketing. But as people become ever-conscious about the brands they interact with, they’re going to be asking more from them before parting with any cash. In 2024, companies have a choice: get more honest in your marketing, or risk getting left behind by your audience. 

Four key areas stand out to us here: environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, ethical use of generative AI, and ethical use of data…

Environmental sustainability

Gone are the days where environmental activism was limited to Greenpeace, the Green Party and Greta Thunberg. The UN target stating global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 rippled across the world – not only impacting the government’s stance on climate change, but the everyday behaviour of consumers. 

As we edge closer to the deadline, a collective consciousness has intensified, and people are demanding that companies use their influence and presence to take climate action. They’re increasingly condemning empty efforts and being drawn towards brands that offer opportunities to bring customers on board with their green initiatives.

For 2024, we expect to see many marketing campaigns ramping up their environmental focus. More importantly, they’ll be backed by very real ways for consumers to make their own difference by interacting with the brand.

Diversity and inclusion 

We’ve established that actions speak louder than words with sustainable and ethical marketing. But when it comes to diversity and inclusion, it’s the subtleties in your delivery that can truly capture the full spectrum of your audience. 

Instead of using garish ‘inclusivity’ messaging, we’re seeing companies take a more thoughtful approach that does the talking for them. Seemingly subtle choices over language, phrases, imagery and music in your marketing campaigns can be effective here. Here are a few dos and don’ts to get the cogs turning:

     Do:

  • Recognise diverse celebrations
  • Use gender-neutral language
  • Remain consistent
     Don’t: 

  • Forget to localise
  • Fall into stereotypes
  • Rely on tokenism

Trying to reach a specific sector of your audience but concerned about exclusion? Consider directing different messaging towards different segments and demographics of your audience. And always remember: talk to the human being you’re selling to, and your product will sell itself.  

Ethical use of AI

AI incoming! Well, it has been in our lives for some time. But now the likes of ChatGPT and other generative AI platforms are on tap for everyone. Yes, there’s a worry that an over-reliance on the technology can lead to inauthenticity in content. Yet neglecting it entirely triggers fears of falling behind the curve. And this is where the ethical use of AI will be essential in striking the right balance in your marketing approach.

Original content creation is what makes your messaging unique. AI can’t take that away from you. The menial work around it, however – like structuring, ideation and organisation – can be passed on to the powers that be. Think of it like a 24/7 personal assistant that allows you to dedicate more human brainpower to what you do best. Or even a means to create base-level content to be edited with a human touch…

What this looks like for your company is down to you and you alone. But one thing’s for sure: AI isn’t going away, and 2024 will be a time where more policy and strategy is formed around the most effective and ethical usage. 

Reliance on first-party data

Trust is the bedrock of your customer relationships. But with more consumer awareness around businesses that dip their hand in the third-party cookie jar, that trust is diminishing. And companies are pivoting by building their marketing efforts on first-party data instead. 

The use of first-party data not only allows marketers to overcome compliance concerns. It enables the delivery of more accurate and reliable marketing campaigns, leading to more personalised messaging and stronger long-term relationships. 

It’s already happening, and is sure to be a widespread trend into 2024 – not least because Google is phasing out the use of third-party cookie trackers on its Chrome browser. 

Future-proof your marketing

Our advice? Don’t view an increasing focus on sustainability and ethics in 2024 as a cause for concern. Strategise your approach wisely and you’ll soon realise new opportunities to align with your customers more closely.  

Struggling to see the wood for the trees in an ever-changing landscape? Our writers and strategists can help you get ahead of the curve on sustainability and ethics, and direct your efforts in line with the latest trends. Talk to one of our team to start future-proofing your marketing.

Words by Dale

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