Sustainable Business Serves The Women's Market, Naturally

09/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sustainable business and the women's market are hot these days. Don't say you haven't noticed.

While both trends could certainly be leveraged for "wily" marketing purposes, the two should actually be taken quite seriously by brands looking for a bigger bang for their budget in these slow economic times.

The bonus is that while sustainability and better serving women are each challenging in their own right, they can be effectively approached as complementary pursuits. That's right. Working toward a more sustainable way of doing business actually addresses many of the considerations of a woman's buying mind.

Among others, a few of the truths about how women buy:

- They tend to use both their left and right brains, taking in the facts/figures, while also taking in the more emotional/community-related implications of a purchase.

- They think first of their immediate "constituents" (i.e. family), then add in their neighborhood, community and so on - seeing the connections between their consuming decisions and the broader good.

- They pay attention to whether or not the brands they buy/retailers they frequent seem to have good working conditions and support causes that resonate with what's important to them too.

Sound familiar? Sustainable business practices address similar issues in like-minded ways. For example, such a business:

- Operates with the shared goals of making money for shareholder/owner (left brain), and doing well by employees/community and the environment (which seem to be heavily right brain "touchy/feely" issues on the surface, but may well positively influence left brain issues like sales figures).

- Focuses on the corporate and local angle first, then addresses regional, national and global considerations as they develop.

- Builds corporate responsibility (which includes treating employees fairly), giving and environmental programs right into their business model - and transparently shares what they are doing on those fronts - and what they know needs work - with their customers.

If one non-gendered label could encompass the width and depth of what women want from a brand, it might just be sustainable business. The triple bottom line of good for shareholders, society and the environment fits to a "T" the "it all matters," holistic way women are known to buy. So, as the power and visibility of womenomics continues to grow, sustainable businesses will have the advantage.

We're already seeing the big, traditional brands backtrack a bit to change outdated practices and proclaim their new corporate responsibility (GE, Walmart and GM, for example). They have seen the writing on the wall: An authentic and established sustainable commitment resonates with women, who tend to be the largest market for many of the products they sell.

It could be the so-called nurturing mother in all women that seeks this sustainable path, but when all is said and done, it is really the nurturing human being - no gender about it - that is attracted to such a way of living and consuming.

If businesses can run and succeed under such principles, wouldn't we all prefer it? Working toward more sustainable operations and delivering products with that intention IS marketing effectively to women. And, that's good business with a double whammy.