This page contains a number of free sustainable marketing strategy cases. These cover a variety of topics in business. For more on sustainable marketing strategy see here.
Introductory Sustainable Marketing Strategy Cases
These are simple cases designed to set the stage for discussions of business, purpose, and sustainability.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
This case outlines the basics of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is designed to ensure that students know what the UN SDGs are. It also describes how the goals were developed. This sets up a brief discussion of the goals.
The Better Business Act
The Better Business Act campaign seeks to change UK law to mandate a wider focus for company directors to go beyond shareholder primacy. (The idea that companies are just there to benefit the shareholders). The campaign has built wide support across the political spectrum but as at the time of writing (September 2022), had not succeeded in changing UK law.
Creature Comforts: Brewing A Better Business
Creature Comforts is a brewery in Athens, GA. Its B Corp certification was seen to be in line with its mission. This case gives an introduction to what it means to be a B Corp.
Mission Focused Sustainable Marketing Strategy Cases
Coinbase: An Apolitical But Mission Focused Culture?
Coinbase is a US public company whose primary role is to facilitate cryptocurrency trading. Like the industry, it had rapid growth and much volatility. Coinbase was not a firm that was purely there to make a profit for its owners. It had a mission – to promote economic freedom. This mission was seen narrowly and a refusal to get involved in corporate activism in response to the Black Lives Matter movement caused some division in the firm. Committing to an inclusive, ‘apolitical’ culture the CEO, Brian Armstrong, suggested that those who did not support the way the firm was being run should leave.
Etsy: Can Profits And Purpose Be Crafted Together?
Etsy is a business based upon creating a marketplace for sellers who sell unique products to buyers. It makes money from commissions on the transactions. A company committed to a wider purpose to business, Etsy certified as a B Corporation in 2012. Etsy went public, i.e., was sold to outside shareholders, in 2015. Etsy was listed as a C Corporation, a traditional corporation more focused on the shareholders. Given benefit corporations are allowed in Delaware Etsy needed to register as a benefit corporation before being re-certified as a B Corporation. In 2017 Etsy chose to remain as a C Corporation and so not to re-certify as a B Corporation. Etsy said it remained committed to its wider purpose. Although the share price has been volatile at time of writing in May 2022, Etsy’s share price, and number of active sellers, were significantly increased from performance as a B Corporation.
Branding And Positioning
George runs a family business. He strongly believes in letting his personal values impact his business decisions. As such, he builds better quality housing for his workers and buys a newspaper to share his views even at the risk of annoying the government by getting involved in political issues. Part of his success is based on the strength of the brand built on his family name for integrity. In an industry known for dangerous food practices, George’s family name stands for quality and safety. As such, his strong commitments to values seem central to his success.
Polis: Market Rules And Marketing Strategy
This exercise is designed to show that different market structures (all set by the rules of the society the firms operate in) change the operation of the market. Some create more profit for the sellers, some generate more consumer surplus (i.e., leave consumers relatively happier).
Zero Waste at the Mercedes Benz Stadium
The Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA, is a major event space. It has a strong commitment to sustainability show through its Zero Waste status and LEED certification. The case describes the sustainability work at the stadium and ask students to think of why this was done.
This game shows a variety of business scenarios that see 4 teams balance cooperation and conflict.
Pricing And Metrics
Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company
This case discusses the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company (MCCPDC, Cost Plus Drugs) which aims to bring cheaper and more transparent pricing to US pharmaceuticals.
Mylan: The Pricing of EpiPen
In 2007 Mylan acquired EpiPen, an auto-injector of epinephrine to aid those having severe allergic reactions. In 2016 Mylan, the company that supplied EpiPens, was accused of price gouging after a significant continued rise in prices. Why was Mylan able to get away with the price rises? This case also sets up a discussion of what, if anything, did Mylan owe its customers?
Making the Right Decision, Given the Numbers
This exercise is designed to show that how you measure success can change the decisions you make.
Switchyard Brewing Company’s No Tipping Policy
Switchyard Brewing Company have adopted a no tipping policy. The intention is to increase prices, pay the workers higher basic rates, and eliminate the need for tips. Since the workers rely on tips is this a good idea? Given that there is evidence of inequity in tipping is it fairer to abolish tips?
Consumer Decision Making
Houwzer: Helping You Make The Move
Kennedy and Drew are selling their first home and buying a new one. The case considers why a buyer would use a realtor. It highlights the potential value of agents in an imperfect market. The case looks at the business model of Houwzer and how it seeks to tackle challenges in the market while running the business as a B Corporation. Finally, the characteristics of the real estate market are also discussed.
Café Campesino: Coffee As A Force For Good
Café Campesino is a coffee company in Americus, GA. The owners established it to work with coffee cooperatives to bring better conditions in producer countries while at the same time providing quality coffee to US customers.
Marketing An Electric Vehicle In 2022
Preparing for an interview Orla has to create the outline of a plan to boost BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles) sales in the US. This involves understanding the reasons for purchase, and also the barriers to adoption.
Online Gambling: How Easy Should It Be?
This case looks at online gambling in the US. It allows students to discuss the challenges involved in this industry. Specifically, how much consumers should be protected from the online gambling companies? Should the actions of consumers and companies be constrained to protect from the negative aspects of gambling?
Finance And Marketing Strategy
Patagonia: Earth Is Now Our Only Shareholder
Patagonia are a relatively high-end outdoor clothing and equipment retailer. The case looks at the elements of Patagonia’s business model that help it gain significant commendations as an environmentally responsible company. The case ends with the family giving away ownership of the private company, and proclaiming that earth was now the only shareholder.
Unilever: Purpose And Long-Term Value
Unilever was a company that managed a portfolio of brands. The company sought to deliver purpose beyond simply making money for its shareholders. This case looks at the history of this purpose-driven company. The case illustrates how accounting tackles Unilever’s brands. It also introduces some challenges in running brands with purpose central to their essence.
ESG Reporting In 2022: Understanding Looming Changes
In 2022 ESG reporting was an area of business that was subject to great interest but limited standardization. This had led to concerns that the ESG reports produced by firms were insufficiently informative, hard to compare, and subject to manipulation (greenwashing). Non-governmental organizations, including accounting bodies were providing ESG reporting frameworks and standards. Finally, the EU has created Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) which would begin to take effect in 2023.
Grubby: Creating A Sustainable Food-Subscription Business
Grubby is a subscription plant-based meal kit company. It is based in London, England. The aim of the case is to introduce issues around greenhouse gases and food consumption. Further, it addresses how these are related to the UN SDGs. The case also looks at how a new business can work to tackle issues in sustainability. Finally, the case looks at how customer lifetime value might be used both for tactical marketing decisions and in understanding firm value.
Global Marketing And Social Development
Save the Children: Using Behavioral Science to Improve Parenting Skills
This case looks at how Save the Children can use behavioral insights to promote positive parenting in China. This could be used in a marketing research class, when discussing behavioral insights/economics, or looking at social change.
Is Starvation Just An Inevitable Fact Of Life?
This case considers population and its role in sustainable development. The central question is: is mass starvation inevitable?
Ranking The Best Countries
This case looks at an assessment of the Best Countries in the world. It highlights that different countries do well on different things. Obviously any ranking, but ranking of countries especially, has challenges. What can be done to overcome these?
Do Stakeholders Matter?: The European Super League
In April 2021 a group of major European Football clubs announced they would no longer play in the UEFA Champions Leagues (a competition earned by success in European domestic leagues). Instead, these clubs would play in a new European Super League which guaranteed that they would always qualify. This would likely be extremely beneficial financially for the clubs’ owners. Negative reaction was swift from supporters of the clubs involved in the Super League plans as well as from fans of other clubs. Then European governments threatened to intervene to prevent the Super League. Given that pressure it collapsed only a few days after being announced.
A Note For Teachers
Teaching notes are available for professors who want to use these in class. Therefore, if you are planning to teach using these cases please contact me separately (including evidence that you are a teacher) and I will share them with you.
I’d like to extend my thanks to those who have helped me in putting together this case library. Specifically Katie Chen, Tyra Byers, Matt Philp, and Ryan Leonard. No one has helped more than Stephen Jensen who edited the cases. All errors (and there will be some so do let me know if you spot them) remain mine. I am surprisingly bad at taking good advice.