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The Malaysian Example: Influencership for Sustainability

Influncership for Sustainability 


Influncership can be viewed as a commercial advocacy. Coming from a marketing background but with a mindset geared towards sustainability, the concept of blending marketing strategies such as influencer marketing with sustainable consumption has captured my attention. In the past, when I heard the word "influencer," it had a disconfirming connotation. At the time, I felt that influencers mostly didn’t offer anything new that really could enrich my lifestyle, or bring me closer to my goal of consuming more sustainably and reducing my individual carbon footprint.


A group of people are trying to convince me to buy certain products in return for a substantial sum of money provided by the brands. That I thought.


For years on end, I failed to embrace “influencership” as a cutting-edge tactic. Later I realised, I had greatly underestimated the sheer power and influence that social proof possesses. Influencers have mastered the art of storytelling and connecting with their audiences on an emotional level. And this power can be harnessed to fuel the movement towards promoting sustainable consumption. 





Then why are sustainable brands and consumption not promoted enough?


Gen Z has witnessed the rise and dawn of the mighty “influncership” culture and how it has intricately woven into the consumer decision-making process. Our way of life has been completely altered by the power of influencer marketing in the modern era, and Instagram has been instrumental in its rise. So, theoretically, fostering the expansion of local eco-friendly brands ought to be effortlessly attainable through the strategic utilisation of influencer marketing. But it's not as simple as it seems. The scenario of the local sustainable lifestyles market in Malaysia can be a great example to understand the blockage. 


There is a rise of pop-up markets on weekends that happen mainly in creative spaces which gives local small-scale brands a chance to sell their products and promote their businesses. These brands are mostly eco-friendly and offer very creative and unique products that it’s very hard to resist not to buy all of them. And they come in so affordable! This phenomenon suggests that local sustainable brands do exist in the market and surprisingly, the market size is quite large. But they usually do not have a big budget for marketing costs. And let me tell you if you already don’t know, influencers charge very very high fees. As a result, those brands simply fail to collaborate with influencers to promote their brands. 


So, influencer marketing can be applicable for the promotion of sustainable consumption only when traditional influencers have a sense of responsibility towards sustainability. To do that, various sustainable leadership development programs need to be inclusive by inviting traditional influencers.  


What opportunities lie ahead for influencers? 


The game of influence goes two ways. Influencers cannot survive if there are no market opportunities at all for the products they are promoting. However, consumers are becoming more conscious about their impact on the environment. They are actively seeking out influencers who champion sustainability and endorse eco-friendly products. This presents a promising potential for influencers to embrace sustainable brands for their bread and butter. 


Some Inspirations for Influencing for Sustainability 


The Sustainability Project is one of such kind Singapore-based initiatives by Jo. It calls itself an environmental service which thrives to extend the life of Semakau landfill by inspiring sustainable actions through tips, workshops, campaigns, shopping and trips among many other innovative ways. It partners with other sustainability experts and practitioners to give audiences ideas and tips like how to cope without plastic bags, examples of low-waste travel essentials, list of recycling resources in Singapore.They also often promote other sustainable initiatives from the local community.


Jo started The Sustainability Project as her passion project but grew huge in the past five years. Many passionate thought leaders like Jo have started inspiring people to consume sustainable products and sharing resources with them about sustainability. 


Curiously Conscious is a blog journal by Besma where she documents kinder ways to live and dress. Through discussions on eco-friendly beauty and sustainable fashion, she hopes to encourage people to adopt sustainable living. She also inspires others to take part in sustainable travel by sharing her experiences at eco-villages, spa hotels with green accommodations, and organic food markets.


Another individual initiative is Joy of Sustainability by Joy Gai, a coach and consultant for sustainability. She shares knowledge and insights to empower mindset about sustainability, connecting to the world of creativity. 


There is also an influencer community called Ethical Influencers. It acts as a digital hub where a diverse range of content creators can get support to make more useful resources, be connected with like-minded creators, and amplify their voices to be heard to add real value to people’s daily lifestyles. 



In conclusion, influencers have the power to promote sustainable consumption and play a crucial role in shaping consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable future. By using their platforms to endorse and advocate for sustainable products, influencers can create a ripple effect of awareness and action among their followers. At the same time, it is crucial for us, as consumers, to acknowledge our own responsibilities while empowering the influencer communities. We need to be selective about the influencers we follow and the messages they promote. We should support influencers who prioritise sustainability and encourage them to continue making a positive impact on our society and the environment. Together, we can drive change and pave the way for a more sustainable and responsible way of consuming.


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