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Ethical Issues When Marketing To Children​​ 1

Business Ethics and Values
BUS-401
Fred Boyer
Cornerstone University


Marketing ethics is an area that deals with the moral principles behind marketing. Ethics in marketing applies to different spheres such as in advertising, promotion, pricing. However, for purposes of this essay, the ethics of advertisements will be dealt with especially in relation to children. (Mohandeep, 2001)) Many marketers and analysts have agreed that children are marketer's best friend. This is backed up by evidence from watch groups such as Media Channel. In the year 2007, they highlighted the fact that in the United States, close to two billion dollars was spent on advertisements to children. It was also revealed that children greatly affect the commodities their parents buy. Estimates done in this field show that projects tailored for children in the year 2006 totaled fifty two billion dollars. (McGee and Heubusch, 1997) Regardless of all this potential returns that children can give manufacturers and their marketers, there are key ethical issues that arise in the discussion. For example, do children have the capability of understanding some of the intricate marketing tactics? Do children possess the final buying power? Do marketers need to get permission from their parents? And do children understand the negative effects of some of the products advertised to them? These key questions will be analyzed in relation to business pressures then recommendations will be made. Key ethical issues in marketing to children

Some companies have become notorious for the utilization of psychologists in their advertising and marketing campaigns. Normally what such companies do is that when trying to create marketing strategy, they will involve psychologist to tell them about tactics that they can use to influence children. Since psychologists understand the way child's mind works, they can help marketers create campaigns that will be directly aimed at them and those ones that can easily influence their choices. This trend has becoming so alarming that the American Psychological Association has raised an alarm about it. They have set up a committee to estimate the effect that the involvement of psychologists in the marketing process of children's products has on them. The group has asserted that no psychological principles should be used when marketing to children. They are also recommending that there should be some sort of strategy to protect the young ones from exploitation though the use of psychological ploys. (Beder, 1998) The basic framework which steers marketing ethics revolves around three main issues. These are: values, stakeholders, processes. Marketing ethics that are done on a value inclined framework are those one that involve the analysis of the kind of value that the marketing idea creates. So advertisements may instill in their target audiences positive or negative attributes. This all depends on their implementation. For example, an advertising targeting a child may become a problem if it violates the right to privacy, transparency, honesty or autonomy. By using psychologists in the process of creating advertisements for children, marketers are imposing upon children's right to autonomy and transparency. They try studying children's behavioral trends and then use this to exploit those children. This is quite unethical. The process oriented framework in marketing ethics is founded on the basis of analysing marketing ethics through the categories that marketers use. For example research, promotion and placement must be done in an ethical manner. This is something that marketers have chosen to ignore because their research is not done in an ethical manner. Their research involves using psychological experts who may use their knowledge to take advantage of children who belong to vulnerable groups (Lizabeth, 2001)

Targeting children alone
Marketers who create marketing...
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