Sustainable Marketing Theories and Practices: A case of The City Development Limited (CDL)

Sustainable Marketing Theories and Practices: A case of The City Development Limited (CDL)

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1.0 Overview of the organization

The City Development Limited (CDL) was founded in 1963. The idea behind the company is to create long-term sustainability value with high quality and sustainability. In 1995, the company correctly established the corporate environmental policy, and their business model is based on the idea of energy conservation. So far, the philosophy and determination of CDL have guided the construction industry to pay more attention to the environment. From the perspective of the group’s real estate development, they are committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions from buildings through the scientific emission reduction.

2.0 Sustainability SWOT ANALYSIS of CDL

Strengths1.The various innovative initiatives. 2. Have a wide network (More than 300 subsidiaries and associates). 3.The global impact. 4.The long experiences in sustainable development projects. 5.The one of the largest land banks in Singapore. 6.The first Singapore company to list simultaneously on all three global sustainability benchmarks. 7.More powerful usage capability. 8.The right business environment.    
Weakness1.Uncertainty of the assets value. 2.The huge impact of real estate market changes. 3.Investing into customer-oriented services and supply chain. 4.An easily imitated business model. 5. High expert costs.              
Opportunities1.Be able to increase the market segment customer base. 2.More low-carbon technological innovations to get involved in related products. 3.Environmental policies in government offer opportunities to increase customer base. 4.The trend toward premium products. 5.Opportunities for sustainable business expansion in other countries        
Threats1.Saturated urban markets and stagnant business in rural markets. 2.Fierce competition will affect business and market share。 3.Depends on imports of raw materials from other countries and how to produce materials sustainably. 4.Volatile trade relations and global monetary policies may hamper the potential of business development.

3.0 Target market

In the workplace, the number of 31 to 40 years old employees make up the vast majority. The 70% of employees volunteer for community activities. They tend to have a “green and safe” corporate culture and are encouraged to attend external seminars to improve EHS standards. Every interviewee agreed that brands and organizations primarily adopt a vision of sustainability. In addition, most home buyers are willing to implement a green lifestyle in their new homes, and use energy-saving appliances to reduce the carbon footprint. Demographically, CDL targets corporate workers. It is able to appeal their audience through product relevance, which in turn influences purchase decisions. This effect is evident in items, such as green kits, green guides, etc. They attract consumers that are seeking green life.

GEOGRAPHICSSingapore and other Asia areas
IncomeMiddle- and high-income earners
Social ClassBe concentrated in the middle or upper classes
LifestyleSocial Aware: The purpose of this kind of people’s purchase is to improve the quality of life, and have a certain environmental protection concept. Their consumption behavior is more rational, and inclined to brand. For seeking the green life, they like an innovative and welcoming environment. The behavior can be understood as investment. They also need a high level of working ability from developers.
Personality  Gregarious
Benefits1.Reduce environmental pollution and address climate change to practice the sustainable development. 2.implement the high-quality services to meet the needs of diversified residential needs. 3.Focus on the portfolio to create long-term returns for shareholders.
POSOTIONINGDiversified green buildings
Table 1. Market segmentation portfolio

4.0 Sustainable marketing framework

4.1 The UN sustainable development goals;

According to Esther An, the Chief Sustainability Officer at City Developments Limited (CDL), corporate reporting for the future is geared towards the adaptation of  Integrated Reporting (IR) practices. Such processes may be used to exhibit transparency and disclose relevant sustainability measures undertaken by the firm to the public domain and regulatory bodies for scrutiny. IR offers a platform to make the balanced bottom line as a priority for growth and development. IR as adopted by CDL has enabled the building of a futuristic business model that is attractive to partners, customers and investors (“INNOVATION FOR GREEN, SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES – CDL Sustainability”, 2021). While CDL is in the business of conservation while undertaking construction – as is implied in their ethos – the company has gone ahead to establish a system of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) through the application of several sustainable development goals SGDs by the UN (Riechel et al., 2020). CDL adheres to SDG15 and advocates for life on land.

Figure 1: SDG 15, United Nations
Source: (“Goal 15 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs”, n.d.)

The goal of sustainability in this sense is aimed at the protection, restoration and promotion of the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, in the management of forests, alleviation of deforestation and halting biodiversity loss while reversing land degradation (Chiat & Joshi, 2013). In the process of construction, CDL ensures that all its procedures and processes are in tandem with the said goals. As such, they have been recognized worldwide for undertaking several radical changes in their construction processes in ensuring that the environment is protected. This has been through listing as one of the first Singapore companies, on four of the world’s major sustainability benchmarks – FTSE4Good Index Series (since 2002), MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes (since 2009), Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations (since 2010) and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (since 2011) (Ho et al., 2013).

5.0 Sustainable marketing practices

5.1 Sustainability challenge resolution

To reduce embodied carbon, CDL is exploring full-circle practices and solutions in the adaptation of low-carbon construction materials and methods (“INNOVATION FOR GREEN, SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES – CDL Sustainability”, 2021). The company constituted The Green Building and Technology Application team in 2020 to add to the already robust sustainability portfolio (Chang 2019). The team has been in charge of the strategy and implementation of scalable technology that leverages the reduction of the company’s carbon footprint while in the process of construction.

Figure 2: CDL Innovation Engine

5.2 Performance measurement

CDL is in the race to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from all its buildings by 2050 (“Goal 15 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs”, n.d.). While this is a major task to achieve, the company has set in place publicly verifiable targets and results of their operations as they continue to achieve set milestones. CDL raised carbon reduction targets in December 2021 as assessed and validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) (“Goal 15 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs”, n.d.).

Figure 3: Enhanced Ambition in the Global Race to Zero

5.3 Environmental education programs

CDL has a deep-rooted history of continuous sustainability efforts. This has been exemplified by the building of the Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA) which was opened on June 5th 2017; World Environment Day (Youngho, 2019). The SSA is designed to train partners, stakeholders, employees and the general public on the importance of environmental sustainability. To support this cause CDL designed and built SSA as the first ground-up initiative and zero-energy facility in Singapore dedicating it to thought leadership and capacity building for climate action (“SINGAPORE SUSTAINABILITY ACADEMY – CDL Sustainability”, 2021). The SSA has become a hub for partnership building and knowledge sharing for the community and youth.

Figure 4:In addition to using sustainably sourced materials certified by Nature’s Barcode System, the SSA also features 3,200 square feet of solar PV panels on its roof, generating 60,000 kWh per year.
Source: (“SINGAPORE SUSTAINABILITY ACADEMY – CDL Sustainability”, 2021)

6.0 Conclusion

In conclusion, CDL exhibits a robust infrastructure geared towards longevity in its goals to attain optimal sustainability in its present operations as well as future ventures. The analysis conducted here-above indicates the company’s dedication to achieving net-zero carbon emissions in their buildings and the adherence to Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) standards in tandem with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030.


Youngho, C. (2019). Green Finance in Singapore: Barriers and Solutions. Adb.org. Retrieved 15 September 2022, from https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/480756/adbi-wp915.pdf.

Chiat, H. S., & Joshi, H. (2013). City Developments Limited: a journey in sustainable business development. Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies3(8), 1-13.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION – CDL Sustainability. (2021). Retrieved 15 September 2022, from https://cdlsustainability.com/cdl-six-capitals/natural-capital/climate-change-and-emissions/

Goal 15 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved 15 September 2022, from https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal15

Ho, K. H., Rengarajan, S., & Lum, Y. H. (2013). “Green” buildings and Real Estate Investment Trust’s (REIT) performance. Journal of Property Investment & Finance.

INNOVATION FOR GREEN, SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES – CDL Sustainability. (2022). Retrieved 15 September 2022, from https://cdlsustainability.com/cdl-six-capitals/manufactured-capital/innovation-and-smart-technologies/

Riechel, M., Matzinger, A., Pallasch, M., Joswig, K., Pawlowsky-Reusing, E., Hinkelmann, R., & Rouault, P. (2020). Sustainable urban drainage systems in established city developments: Modelling the potential for CSO reduction and river impact mitigation. Journal of Environmental Management274, 111207.

SINGAPORE SUSTAINABILITY ACADEMY – CDL Sustainability. (2021). Retrieved 15 September 2022, from https://cdlsustainability.com/singapore-sustainability-academy/

CDL-Infographic-marketing recommendations

Task: Infographic

Skill: Graphic Design

Software: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop


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