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Ethics in marketing


Ethics in marketing

Success for a business is determined not only by the profits made but also by the nature of relationship it establishes with the community it conducts business and the people in it.  Its social responsibility is therefore focused on ensuring that all its activities, including marketing, seek to achieve the best interests not only for the business but also for its target audience.  Since marketers are responsible for influencing how a business' stakeholders perceive the organization, they ought to practice good ethics as this will help improve how shareholders, employees and the target audience view the organization. Ethical marketing therefore requires marketers to be fair, honest and take responsibility for their actions and this can be achieved by observing certain ethical values.

Ethical marketing requires marketers to be honest in their dealings with other shareholders and members of public.  As markets, most of the information that the public can access regarding a business is shared by marketers.  The role of marketers revolves around sharing information about a business' products and services (Calienes & Gringarten, 2019).  The approaches they take not only informs the target audience about a product or service but also encourages the consumers to purchase the them.  Since their input greatly contributes to the customer's purchase decision, honesty is an important factor as it ensures that only important information is shared.

Honesty on the side of marketers further helps to positively influence how consumers perceive an organization.  When ethical marketing is effective, the target audience is likely to associate the honesty practiced by marketers with the organization.  If the information shared by marketers regarding products and services is actually what the business offers, customers are more likely to have a positive image of the business (Calienes & Gringarten, 2019).  The efforts carried out by marketers translate positively for the business and makes it easier for the target audience to choose its products and services over others in the market.

Ethics in marketing further requires marketers to be responsible and accountable for their actions.  Whatever marketing practices they engage in should be directed towards sharing accurate information regarding a business and its products, and also ensuring that the information is not misleading in any way (Arnold, 2009).  Customers greatly rely on the information shared by marketers to assist in their purchase decisions.  The information is no only used to determine which organization to do business with but also what type of products to purchase.  In the case of a new product in the market, customers rely on the information provided by marketers to determine the impact that such a product will have on the consumer (Arnold, 2009).  When marketing consumables, information such as side effects, frequency of use and other restrictions determine the customer experience when using the product.  Ethical marketing must therefore place emphasis on accountability as the marketers influence how the consumers use and perceive a product.

In cases where information shared by marketers result in negative outcomes when the consumer uses a product or service, marketers must be accountable for the role they played when keeping the consumer informed.  New products in the market often require demonstrations or guidelines on how to use.  Failure to fully inform the consumer regarding a product should be addressed effectively and the marketers ought to take responsibility for the consequences that arise due to their failure to properly inform customers about a product or service (Arnold, 2009).  They must also ensure that the message being communicated is clear and easy to interpret to reduce the likelihood of misuse.  Since the aim is to improve the customer experience, ethical marketing ensures that marketers are just as committed to the consumer's interests and safety as they are towards marketing the business and the products and services it offers.

Marketers should also practice fairness in all their dealings with the stakeholders. For marketers, success in performing their duties is tied to the success of the business. As such, ethical marketing requires them to be fair and ensure that the approaches they take in marketing look out for the interests of the business and also its people (Sage, 2012). Other than creating a good name and image for a business and its products, markets must also ensure that the methods they use serve the interests of the target audience as well. To achieve this, the marketers should avoid manipulating the information they share with the public with the intent of gaining an advantage for the business. All actions and undertaken and any message communicated should seek to help the business reach the target audience and in return, provide the customers with important information regarding the business and its products (Sage, 2012). The activities engaged by marketers should therefore seek to empower the business as well as the customers by creating positive relationships that are based on trust and the common desire to achieve the overall best for all stakeholders.

In addition, marketers should practice transparency in their dealings as this helps to build trust and promote accountability. Unlike primary stakeholders, secondary stakeholders like the government and consumers rely on the information shared through marketing as their source for gaining a better insight on what a business is doing. As such, transparency becomes crucial especially for secondary stakeholders who have little influence over the decisions that a business makes (Dahl & Eagle, 2015). Despite having little control over business decisions, secondary stakeholders play a significant role in determining the approaches the business will implement because the secondary stake holders like customers control demand for products and services while the government determines the laws and policies that the business has to abide to (Dahl & Eagle, 2015). Despite not being part of the decision making team, transparency helps to build trust with the secondary stakeholders and other relevant people that may not be kept in the loop on the internal operations of a business. Transparency also makes it easier to identify areas that cause problems for the family, the people or processes responsible and what can be done to remedy the situation.

            In the age of technology, ethical marketing also involves safeguarding information collected about the customers and the target audience. Most business achieve success by assessing what the consumer wants and what they are likely to need in the future and then designing a product or offering a service to meet this need (Dahl & Eagle, 2015). Identifying, customers’ current and potential needs often requires deep research on the target audience’s shopping history, their tastes and preferences, sites frequently visited and other relevant information needed to segment the market into sections that a business can serve. While such information is ideal in understanding the customer profile, some of the data is sensitive and could result in negative repercussions if it falls into the wrong hands (McKinley, 2011). As marketers, good ethics will involve protecting such information and ensuring that the customer’s privacy is protected. Marketers must therefore invest in the most effective data protection tools to ensure that the information used to build customer profiles is safe and secure.

            Lastly, marketers should ensure that they abide to the campaign limitations set to protect vulnerable consumer groups such as children, the elderly and people with disability. The marketing approaches used should be designed in such a way that they seek to benefit the consumer as much as they benefit the business. Instead of taking advantage of the vulnerable consumer groups, marketing strategies should seek to keep such people informed and equipped with the information needed to make good purchase decisions (McKinley, 2011). The goal should be to help those in such groups make informed decisions and purchase products that will satisfy their needs. Since people in such groups require a different marketing approach, marketers should ensure that they design the message with the needs of the people in vulnerable consumer groups in mind.


Marketers play a crucial role in determining success for a business as they influence the message and perception that people have of the business. For a business that seeks to satisfy the interests of its people, ethics is often used to determine the nature of activities that the business undertakes. In marketing, the ethical responsibility lies in ensuring that all marketing activities undertaken seek to benefit both the business and its consumers. Other than informing customer about a product or services, marketers must also ensure that the message they communicate to the target audience is designed to help both the business and its people.








Arnold C, (2009) “Ethical marketing and the new consumer” John Wiley & Sons

Calienes F and Gringarten H, (2019) “Ethical branding and marketing: Cases and lessons”           Routledge

Dahl S and Eagle L, (2015) “Marketing ethics and society” Sage

McKinley M, (2011) “Ethics in marketing and communication” Springer

SAGE, (2012) “SAGE brief guide to marketing ethics” SAGE




1472 Words  5 Pages
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