Marketing ethics

Marketing ethics is an area of ​​business ethics which deals with the moral principles behind the operation and regulation of marketing . Some areas of marketing ethics (ethics of advertising and promotion ) overlap with media ethics .

Fundamental issues in the ethics of marketing

Frameworks of analysis for marketing Possible frameworks

  • Value- oriented framework, which deals with ethical issues (eg honesty , autonomy , privacy , transparency ). An example of such an approach is the AMA Statement of Ethics . [1]
  • Stakeholder-oriented framework, dealing with consumers and consumers (eg consumers, competitors, society as a whole).
  • Process-oriented framework, eg research, price, promotion, placement.

None of these frameworks allows, by itself, a convenient and comprehensive categorization of the wide variety of issues in marketing ethics

Power-based analysis

Contrary to popular impressions, not all marketing is adversarial, and not all marketing is stacked in favor of the marketer. In marketing, the relationship between producer and consumer or seller can be adversarial or cooperative. For an example of cooperative marketing, see relationship marketing . If the marketing situation is adversarial, another dimension of difference emerges, describing the power balance between producer and consumer or buyer / seller. Power may be concentrated with the producer ( caveat emptor ), but such factors may be over-supplying or shifting the power towards the consumer ( caveat vendor). Identifying where the power is in the relationship and whether the power balance is important to understanding the ethical dilemma in marketing ethics. [2]

Is marketing inherently evil?

A popularist anti-marketing stance is popularly discussed on the blogosphere [3] and popular literature [4] is that any kind of marketing is inherently evil. The position is based on the argument that

  • Damaging personal autonomy . The victim of marketing in this case is the target purchaser whose right to self-determination is infringed.
  • Causing harm to competitors. Excessively fierce competition and unethical marketing tactics are especially associated with saturated markets .
  • Manipulating social values. The victim in this case is society as a whole, or the environment as well. The argument is that marketing promotes consumerism and waste. See also: affluenza , ethical consumerism , anti-consumerism .

Specific issues in marketing ethics

Market research

Market research is the collection and analysis of information about consumers, competitors and the effectiveness of marketing programs. [5] With market research, businesses can make decisions based on market responses, leading to a better understanding of how to adapt to the changing market. It is a product, based on age, gender, rental, income level, and many other variables. This research is about potential customers, including their specific likes and dislikes. [6]

Ethical danger points in the market research include:

  • Invasion of privacy ..
  • Stereotyping .

Invasion of privacy

As companies conduct researches they also come into contact with a person and a person, who comes with a level of risk for both the business and the individual. Now day’s consumers are bombarded with mail after their email address to enter into a competition of becoming a business mailing list. Therefore, they are provided with critical information, which they do not take advantage of.


Portraying an ideal body, weight or physical appearance can have a harmful effect on the individual as well as low self-esteem issues or anorexia. Good marketing is ethical marketing, it is about pleasing and developing a strong relationship with customers in a caring manner.

People affected by unethical market research:

  • Public
  • Respondents
  • Customer
  • Researcher

Approaches to privacy, broadly, divided into two categories: free market, and consumer protection. [31] In a free market approach, they are more likely to do what they wish, with the expectation that consumers will choose to do business with their privacy. If they are not respected, they will lose market share. In a consumer protection approach, in contrast, it is claimed that alternatives may be available. [7]Stereotyping of real populations. However, if conducted irresponsibly, stereotyping can lead to a variety of ethically undesirable results. In the American Marketing Association Statement of Ethics, stereotyping is countered by the obligation to show respect (“acknowledge the basic human dignity of all stakeholders “). [8]

Market audience

Ethical danger points include:

  • Excluding potential customers from the market:
  • Targeting the vulnerable (eg children, the elderly).

Examples of unethical market exclusivity [9] or selective marketing are past attitudes towards gay, ethnic minority and larger size markets. Contrary to the popular myth, which has proven to be highly profitable. For example, 20% of US clothing is more-size. [10] Another example is the selective marketing of health care, which is unprofitable sectors (ie the elderly). [11] A further example of market exclusion is the pharmaceutical industry’s exclusion from developing countries of AIDS drugs . [12]

Examples of marketing which unethically targets the elderly include: living trusts , fraud time share , mass marketing fraud [13] and others. [14] The elderly hold a disproportionate amount of the world’s wealth and are therefore the target of financial exploitation. [15]

In the case of children, the products are unhealthy food, fashionware and entertainment goods. Children are a lucrative market: “… children 12 and under spend more than $ 11 trillion of their own money and influence family spending decisions worth another $ 165 billion”, [16] but are not capable of resisting or understanding marketing tactics at age (“children do not understand persuasive intent until they are eight or nine years old” [16] ). At older ages competitive feelings towards other children are stronger than financial sense. The practice of expanding children’s marketing is also controversial (see marketing in schools ). The following is a list of online articles:

  • Sharon Beder, Marketing to Children [17] ( University of Wollongong , 1998).
  • Miriam H. Zoll, Psychologists Ethics Challenge of Marketing to Children, (2000). [18]
  • Donnell Alexander and Aliza Dichter, Ads and Kids: How is young is too young? [19]
  • Rebecca Clay, Advertising to children: Is it ethical? [20] (Monitor on Psychology, Volume 31, No. 8 September 2000), American Psychological Association
  • Media Awareness Network. How marketers target kids . [21]

Other vulnerable audiences include emerging markets in developing countries, where the market may not be aware of the extent to which marketers may be excessively powerful. See Nestle infant formula milk scandal . Another vulnerable group are mentally unstable consumers. [22] The definition of vulnerability is also problematic: for example, when should it be considered as a vulnerability and when should it be sharks , unethically exploiting the economically disadvantaged?

Targeting the Vulnerable

Marketing targeting strategies for products that can cause economic, physical and psychological harm has become an aspect of marketing that is criticized a considerable amount, especially in marketing literature with a particular focus on vulnerable consumers

Children, elderly consumers, and economically disadvantaged consumers are often categorized as being part of the vulnerable group in marketing, in terms of ethics. “Ethics and social responsibility communities are more likely than not to be vulnerable. George G Brenkert was one of the first to make the most of the problem, or one of which makes unjust. Adolescents and children in the US are major marketers in the food and beverage industry, and marketers are “attracted to the youth as consumers of their spending power”. It is ethically wrong to target children especially when it comes to unhealthy food and beverages, as children may not want anything else, which could lead to child obesity. Children have difficulty deciding between the purpose of advertising and other modes of communication; it is morally unacceptable to target vulnerable children with such products. In Belgium, it is banned to show commercials during children’s programs, similarly in Australia, such ads are not allowed during television programs for preschoolers. It is considered unethical to generate profits through marketing to vulnerable groups, such as children, the poor or the elderly. it is morally unacceptable to target vulnerable children with such products. In Belgium, it is banned to show commercials during children’s programs, similarly in Australia, such ads are not allowed during television programs for preschoolers. It is considered unethical to generate profits through marketing to vulnerable groups, such as children, the poor or the elderly. it is morally unacceptable to target vulnerable children with such products. In Belgium, it is banned to show commercials during children’s programs, similarly in Australia, such ads are not allowed during television programs for preschoolers. It is considered unethical to generate profits through marketing to vulnerable groups, such as children, the poor or the elderly.

The ethics of marketing practice, especially directed towards the vulnerable, divided into two areas, product and process.

Process related ethical issues are often demonstrated through the use of deceptive or misleading advertising, where as product related issues are predominantly focused on marketing certain “harmful” products such as tobacco, unhealthy food etc.

Excluding potential customers from the market:

There are certain high security aspects of market marketing. Using selective marketing to discourage demand from an unwanted market group or exclude them altogether. Examples of market exclusion or selective marketing are certain company’s attitudes toward the gay, ethnic groups and overweight (plus size) market groups. They believe that they are unprofitable so they try to deprive them or avoid them altogether. It is often debated among the business community that is profitable, often businesses have to be unethical. However, this idea is seemingly outdated as a business of an ethical business plan. In the United States, plus size apparel is thought to have generated $ 17.5 billion between May 2013 and April 2014, which is a 5% increase from the previous year, this is to be expected as 65% of American women are more sized. Another example of exclusion from the market is some pharmaceutical industry’s exclude developing countries from AIDS drugs

Pricing ethics

This section needs expansion . You can help by adding to it . (June 2008)

Pricing ethics:

Pricing along with product, place and promotion are the functions of marketing. Retailers and producers must ensure that ethical pricing strategies are performed in order to earn profits without deceiving competitors or consumers.

However, it is obvious that buyers and sellers have different goals and are likely to win in the exchange process. Usually buyers are seeking to gain maximum profits and maximum profits.

Price fixing:

Price fixing is a price at a certain level, which has been agreed upon between the two countries. When prices are set by an industry, customers are forced to pay the price due to lack of options.

Price fixing is considered to be unethical and socially irresponsible. With competition between companies, it will be possible to keep the costs down.

Price wars:

Price wars, is when businesses constantly lower prices in an attempt to demoralize its competition. Price wars can create emotionally devastating and psychologically devastating situations, which has an extraordinary impact on an individual, a company and industry profits. The intention of a price war is to drive competitors out of the market or to create an entry barrier into the market. Although it is beneficial for consumers, it is a low cost product, but it is often deprived for quality. Also in the long term, it will be possible to compete in the business of survival. If a company is involved in the field of tactics, then it can be considered to be unethical within the industry because they are starting a dangerous position and driving other companies to use similar tactics. These companies are more likely to maximize their profits and revenues, but they are more likely to make money than they would in normal business competition. If price wars can be avoided, it will be vital for any business.

Price Collusion:

Price Collusion is one of a number of times when it is used in the market. Price fixing is sometimes called collusion in order to emphasize the agreement using secretive, to avoid fair competition.

List of unethical pricing practices.

  • Bid rigging
  • Dumping (pricing policy)
  • Predatory pricing
  • Price discrimination
  • Price gouging
  • Price fixing
  • Price skimming
  • Price war
  • Supra competitive pricing
  • Variable pricing

Ethics in advertising and promotion

It is a good practice to have a good relationship with the public and to have a positive attitude towards the market. And shaping their attitudes, behaviors and priorities. Some scholars believe that advertising supports ethical issues. It is also considered to be a substitute for gold products or services (Srivastava & Nandan, 2010). Other ethical issues include, mistreatment of women, advertising to children, misleading advertising and other issues, which lead to ethical decline of society. Mistreatment of women is obviously immensely in advertisements. These women are often represented by women, who represent stereotyping of women. Women are also often used as sex symbols, to convey particular messages about products. Also men are often apparent in DIY (do it yourself) ads, which deliver the idea of ​​being a “handy man. An ad, which is ethical, is truthful, it does not make false claims, and it provides sufficient information for the buyer to make informed choices. Exhibiting a level of respect and dignity for its buyers is important while demonstrating decency. An example of an advert produced by Coca Cola, using false advertising, it showed unethical issues behind its production. Coca Cola used by Karl Langerfeld (Chanel designer) who has claimed to lose 80 pounds on a diet that was mainly attributed to diet coke, “I drink diet coke from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed and I drink nothing else “. This advertiser is specially targeted towards women as it is aimed at a fashion trend, through the use of a famous fashion designer. Coke used thin models and the world-famous fashion designers, both of whom are cautious of body image, which shows the wrong message for women, especially young women. The advert shows that going overboard with dieting is a coke that is the way of going about achieving a thin and attractive body. It is ethically wrong to be using Karl Lagerfeld’s extreme dieting ways in order to promote diet coke. It is not only advocating an extreme statement, but it is also sending the wrong message about the drink by directly associating it to a “healthy ideal body”. Often the line between ethical and unethical advertising is blurred, what may seem unethical to some consumers or businesses, may not be for others. Therefore, in such cases, these businesses should proceed with caution, because they can not do so.

Ethical pitfalls in advertising and promotional content include:

  • Issues over truth and honesty. In the 1940s and 1950s, tobacco used to promote health. [23] Today an advertiser who does not want to tell the truth. However, the law permits ” puffery ” (a legal term). [24] The différence entre mere puffery and fraud is a slippery slope : “The problem … is the slippery slope by qui variations are puffery can fairly Quickly down to the lees.” [25] See main article: false advertising .
  • Issues with violence, sex and profanity. Sexual innuendo is a mainstay of advertising content (see sex in advertising ), and is also considered a form of sexual harassment . [26] Violence is an issue especially for children’s advertising and advertising.
  • Taste and controversy. The advertising of certain products may strongly offend some people while being in the interests of others. Examples include: feminine hygiene products, hemorrhoids and constipation medication. [27] The advertising of condoms has become acceptable in the interests of AIDS- prevention, but is nevertheless seen by some as promoting promiscuity . Some companies have actually marketed themselves on the basis of controversial advertising – see Benetton . Sonyhas also frequently attracted criticism for unethical content (portrayals of Jesus which infuriated religious groups, racial innuendo in marketing black and white versions of its PSP product, graffiti adverts in major US cities). [28]
  • Negative advertising techniques, such as attack ads . In negative advertising, the advertiser highlights the disadvantages of competitor products rather than the advantages of their own. The methods are most familiar from the political sphere: see negative campaigning .
  • Delivery channels
  • Direct marketing is the most controversial of advertising channels, especially when approaches are unsolicited. Commercial TV and direct mail are common examples. Electronic spam and telemarketing push the borders of ethics and legality more strongly.
  • Shills and astroturfers are examples of ways of delivering a product that is often used in the marketplace. For example, fake reviews can be published on Amazon. [29] Shills are primarily for message-delivery, but they can also be used at auctions, such as Ebay auctions. [30]
  • Native advertising is the blurring of lines between advertising and content. [31]

Deceptive Advertising and Ethics

Another breach of marketing ethics with the use of deceptive advertising. This form of advertising is not specific to one target market, and can sometimes be unnoticed by the public. There are a number of different ways in which deceptive marketing can be presented to consumers; one of these methods is accomplished through the use of humor. In a study conducted by Hassib Shabbir and Thwaites, 238 advertisements were assessed and 73.5% of them were found to have deceptive marketing practices. Of those advertisements that were conducted deceptively, 74.5% of them used to mislead potential customers. Part of what drives this study is the idea that humor provides an escape or relief of some kind of human constraint, and that some advertisers intend to take advantage of this product by a product that may be alleviate that constraint through humor. Throughout the study it has been found that all types of humor are used to deceive consumers, and that there are certain types of humor that are used when making certain deceptive claims.

It is important to understand that humor is not the only method that is used to deter consumer’s minds. Before making important purchases, they should always conduct their own research in order to gain a better understanding of what they are. [32]

The use of ethics in marketing tactics

Business ethics has been an increasing concern among larger companies, at least since the 1990s. Major corporations in their relationship with the press. Marketers have been among the fastest to perceive the market’s preference for ethical companies, often moving faster to take advantage of this shift in consumer taste. This results in the expropriation of business ethics.

  • The Body Shop is an example of a company that markets itself and its entire product range solely on an ethical message.
  • Greenwash is an example of a strategy used to make a company appear when its unethical practices continue.
  • The following is a picture of a product that can be used in a range of ways, including ethical values ​​related to lifestyle and anti-consumerism. [33]

“Liberation marketing takes the old mass culture criticism – consumerism as conformity – fully into account, acknowledges it, addresses it, and it solves it Liberation marketing imagines customers breaking free from the old enforcers of order, tearing loose from the shackles with which capitalism has We are in the process of finding ourselves in a state of bureaucracy and hierarchy, finding ourselves in touch with our true selves, and finally, finding authenticity, that holiest of consumer grails. ” ( Thomas Frank ) [34]

Neuromarketing ethics

Neuromarketing and its precursor, neuroeconomics , uses clinical information about brain functions and mechanisms to help explain what is happening inside the “black box” so prevalent in many explanations of consumer behavior. [35] In order to do so, specialists use neuroimaging techniques and record brain responses to different stimuli. The Neuromarketing Science & Business Association has been launched on November 2012 at the Neuromarketing Code of Ethics. This is a first step towards adopting international standards applied to neuroscientific methods to study the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, packaging and product design, as well as communications from non-profit organizations and government institutions. However, some ethicists condemn the code as protecting only a very narrow class, and in the extreme position that neuromarketing itself should be used for the advancement of what is reasonably believed to be a good public, employing Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of double effect (DDE ). Although one could make the argument that it is a good business, it would not be saved under the DDE because the intention behind it is not to generate a greater than the collective effect of manipulation is greater. HOWEVER,

Marketing strategy

The main theoretical issue here is the debate between free markets and regulated markets . In a truly free market, any participant can make or change the rules. However, when new rules are introduced, they may respond to accusations of unethical behavior, rather than modifying their own behavior (which they may not be able to anyway). Most markets are not fully free.

Case: California electricity crisis , qui Demonstrates how constant innovation of new marketing strategies by companies Such As Enron outwitted the regulatory bodies and substantial businesses Caused Harm to Consumers and concurrents.

A list of known unethical or controversial marketing strategies:

  • Anti-competitive practices
  • Bait and switch
  • Planned obsolescence
  • Pyramid scheme
  • Vendor lock-in / vendor lockout
  • Viral marketing / guerilla marketing
  • Subliminal advertising

Controversial marketing strategies associated with the internet:

  • Embrace, extend and extinguish
  • Search engine optimization
  • spamdexing
  • Spyware / Adware

Further issues in marketing ethics

Marketing ethics overlaps with environmental ethics in the field of waste management. [36]

Some, Such As members of the advocacy group No Free Lunch , That-have argued marketing by pharmaceutical companies is Negatively Impacting physicians’ prescribing practices, influençant em to prescribe the drugs Marketed Rather than others qui May be Cheaper or better for the patient. [37]

Ethical thinking is responding to situations of concern with respect to the appropriateness and inappropriateness of certain communication and to the decency and indecency of the intention and results of such actions. In other words, ethics are distinctions between right and wrong. Businesses are confronted with ethical decision making, and whether or not they are in charge of business conduct, or management of business, such as managers, need to instill. Marketers are ethically responsible for what is marketed and the image that a product portrays. With which said, marketers need to understand and to be able to achieve a better understanding of the market.

Marketing ethics, regardless of the product offered or the market targeted, sets the guidelines for which marketing is practiced. When companies create high ethical standards, they are involved in ethical marketing. To be marketed effectively and efficiently, they should be reminded that all marketing decisions are necessary to meet the needs of customers, suppliers, and business partners. Ethical behavior should be enforced throughout the company .

However, marketers have been known to marketable products to the public. These tend to be controversial products in which they appeal to some while others. An example of such a product that is sold regularly today is a cheap handgun. America is a country in which its citizens have the right to bear arms, yet these weapons are criticized by the public because they are sold to less affluent communities. Critics have referred to these “Saturday Night Specials” referrals to the negative connotation that they are made to commit crimes. In defense of the critics, the opinions of those in the field of criminal justice are more important than those of the law. Is the marketer facilitating the crime of appealing with a weapon that is easily accessible? While the argument in this case may be unethical due to the questionable nature of these arguments, this argument does not apply to the sale of all guns. That is because they are self-defense, hunting, and law enforcement are quite ethical to the fact that they are marketable to a responsible consumer. This comparison supports the fact that it can be viewed in the marketplace.

Regulation and enforcement

This section needs expansion . You can help by adding to it . (June 2008)

Marketing ethics and marketing law are related subjects. Relevant areas of law include consumer law qui Protects Consumers and antitrust law qui Protects concurrents – in Both boxes contre unethical marketing practices. Regulation extends beyond the law to lobbies, watchdog bodies and self-regulatory industry bodies.

  • Advertising regulation
  • Consumer protection

See also

  • consumerism
  • Customer relationship management
  • Ethical marketing
  • False advertising
  • marketing
  • Marketing warfare strategies
  • Media ethics
  • Propaganda
  • Socially responsible marketing


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