Marketing's quest for environmental sustainability: Persistent challenges and new perspectives

Jakki J. Mohr, Linda L. Price, Aric Rindfleisch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose-The purpose of this chapter is fivefold. First, it highlights that, despite apparent progress, business in general, and marketing in particular, has made little impact upon environmental sustainability. Second, it offers four explanations for the persistent challenges that contribute to this lack of meaningful progress. Third, it presents two theoretical lenses (i.e., assemblage theory and socio-ecological systems theory) for viewing environmental sustainability from new perspectives. Fourth, it offers a mid-range theory, biomimicry, to bridge the gap between these higher-level theories and managerial decisions on the ground. Finally, it offers implications and ideas for future research based on these persistent challenges and new perspectives. Methodology/approach-Our paper is theoretical in focus. We offer a conceptual analysis of persistent challenges facing business efforts in environmental sustainability and suggest useful lenses to integrate marketing decisions more closely with our natural environment. Findings-We present biomimicry as an actionable framework that seeks inspiration from nature and also explicitly grounds marketing decisions in the natural world. Practical Implications-Our paper draws attention to the challenges facing firms seeking to achieve better performance in environmental sustainability. In addition, it offers a set of fresh theoretical perspectives as well as future issues for scholarly research in this domain. Originality/value-Our work is designed to be provocative; it articulates reasons why business efforts in environmental sustainability do not scale to meaningful impact upon our planet and explores theoretical lenses by which those efforts could be more impactful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-59
Number of pages31
JournalReview of Marketing Research
StatePublished - 2016


  • Assemblage theory
  • Biomimicry
  • Marketing strategy
  • Resources and capabilities
  • Socioecological systems theory
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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