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Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice

For a Special Issue on

Profit with Purpose: How Marketing Can Drive Progress towards the UN SDGs

Manuscript deadline
31 May 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Pelin Bicen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, Sawyer School of Business, Suffolk University
[email protected]

Colin B. Gabler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University
[email protected]

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Profit with Purpose: How Marketing Can Drive Progress towards the UN SDGs

In the face of mounting global challenges, such as poverty, inequality, and climate change, organizations are increasingly called upon to redefine their roles in society (McKinsey, 2023). This trend gained traction in 2015 with the ratification of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 191 United Nation members. It was amplified in August 2019, when 181 CEOs in the US reimagined the purpose of for-profit corporations, moving from an exclusive focus on shareholders to prioritizing all stakeholders. This call to action has been echoed by employees, customers, and society-at-large as stakeholders expect firms to integrate the SDGs into their core business strategies (UN Global Compact, 2019).


This convergence of challenges has prompted for-profit organizations to reimagine their marketing strategies to engage purposefully with the marketplace (Voola et al. 2022). Consider two mission statements, first from DuPont: “We are not simply looking to map our portfolio to the themes identified in the SDGs, but to proactively and intentionally use the SDGs as inspiration and to drive decision making and investments in our innovation processes.” Then from a startup accelerator called The Founder Institute: “The world around us is changing, and not necessarily for the better. Challenges like climate change, poverty, and inequality continue to impact the planet and harm communities…Fortunately, there are hardworking and passionate people around the globe tackling obstacles head-on” (Founder Institute, 2023).

Organizations are taking this responsibility seriously, and marketing scholars should too. There have been calls to widen the boundaries of marketing to investigate non profit-driven outcomes, and to be more relevant to practice (Chandy et al. 2021, Grinstein, Hewett, and Riefler 2022; Haenlein et al. , 2021; Labroo and Kelly, 2021; Sheth, 2021). We are now tasked with conducting research with a societal purpose (Ferrell and Ferrell, 2021; Jedidi, Grewal, and Dekimpe 2021) that advances the UN SDGs by promoting health and well-being, as well as responsible consumption and production (Ferreira and Fernandes, 2022; Srivastava, Fahey, and Reibstein 2022).

The purpose of this special issue is to solicit papers that analyze the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from an organizational marketing strategy standpoint, with an emphasis on companies that consider the SDGs to be fundamental to their core values. We encourage empirical research (qualitative and quantitative) as well as theoretical manuscripts, conceptual pieces, or historical approaches that advance our knowledge in this area. The editors’ goal is to publish leading edge papers across a variety of methodologies, theories, concepts, models, and applications/cases. Potential topics for this special issue include but are not limited to:

  1. How are organizations engaging with and responding to the SDGs as a core part of their marketing strategy? How does this impact the bottom line?
  2. How can the marketing discipline contribute to complex global issues like those in the SDGs?
  3. What strategies and techniques can be derived from the existing sustainability marketing literature to effectively address the SDGs?
  4. What resources and capabilities should for-profit firms develop to  implement marketing strategies that align with the SDGs?
  5. Which theoretical frameworks will help guide scholars toward a more comprehensive understanding of marketing’s role in achieving the SDGs?
  6. What is the role of emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, blockchain), in creating and implementing marketing strategies that align with the SDGs?
  7. What ethical dilemmas and obstacles are likely to arise for marketers as they strive to align their strategies with SDGs?
  8. How will aligning firms’ marketing strategies with SDGs affect consumers outcomes (e.g., satisfaction, loyalty, word-of-mouth)?
  9. How do firms balance the often competing demands of multiple stakeholders within the SDGs?
  10. How can diverse stakeholder groups (e.g., universities, governments, non-profits, businesses, NGOs) collaborate and cooperate to meet the UN SDG goals?
  11. How can marketing educators incorporate the SDGs into their courses to encourage students to consider the broader impact of business decisions?


Chandy Rajesh K, Gita Johar V., Moorman Christine, John Roberts H (2021), “Better Marketing for a Better World,” Journal of Marketing, 85 (3), 1–9.

Founder Institute (2023). “17 Founder Institute Portfolio Companies Helping Meet the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.” (accessed June 6 2023)

Ferrell, O.C. & Ferrell, L. (2021) New directions for marketing ethics and social responsibility research, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 29:1, 13-22

Ferreira, A.C. & Fernandes, M.E (2022) Sustainable advertising or ecolabels: Which is the best for your brand and for consumers’ environmental consciousness? Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 30:1, 20-36

Grinstein, A., Hewett, K., & Riefler, P. (2022). Well-Being in a Global World—The Role of International Marketing: An Editorial. Journal of International Marketing, 30(2), 1–4

Haenlein Michael, Bitner Mary Jo, Kohli Ajay, Lemon Katherine N., Reibstein David J. (2021), “Guest Editorial: Responsible Research in Marketing,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 50 (1), 8–12.

Labroo Aparna A., Goldsmith Kelly (2021), “The Dirty Underbelly of Prosocial Behavior: Reconceptualizing Greater Good as an Ecosystem with Unintended Consequences,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 31 (3), 417–28.

McKinsey (2023) “New leadership for a new era of thriving organizations,” (accessed June 5 2023)

Sheth, S. (2021) New areas of research in marketing strategy, consumer behavior, and marketing analytics: the future is bright, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 29:1, 3-12.  Voola, R., Bandyopadhyay, C., Voola, A., Ray, S., and Carlson, J. (2022). “B2B marketing scholarship and the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs): A systematic literature review,” Industrial Marketing Management, 101, 12-32.

Submission Instructions

Submission guidelines and deadlines:

Papers targeting the special issue should be submitted through the JMTP submission system and will undergo a review process similar to regular submissions. All manuscripts must follow the guidelines of JMTP. Submissions will be accepted starting on September 1, 2023 with a deadline of May 31st, 2024.

Special Issue Editors:

Questions pertaining to the special issue should be submitted to the JMTP Editorial Office or directed to the special issue editors.

Pelin Bicen, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is Associate Professor of Marketing at Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University.

Colin Gabler, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is Associate Professor of Marketing at Harbert College of Business, Auburn University

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