Ethical Aspects of Marketing
Developing a Business Plan
August 4, 2009
Ethical Aspects of Marketing
This report outlines the social, ethical and legal aspects of marketing.
Environmentally Responsible Products
Consumers have become more aware of the impact of both production and consumption on the wider environment in recent years. This is acutely apparent in the way products are now packaged.
During recent years many companies have assisted in doing their part for the environment by changing their packaging to make it more environmentally responsible. An example of this is McDonalds Family Restaurant phasing out polystyrene burger containers with recyclable paper. McDonalds’ management discovered the potential damage their packaging was doing to the environment and acted quickly to prevent further damage from occurring, and as a result of this change, the new burger packaging is cheaper, it is faster to pack, and easier to dispose of.
Packaging aside, many other products can be potentially harmful. These include herbicides, pesticides, paint, oil, etc, and if not disposed of carefully, they can cause harm to the environment.
Manufacturers, such as OMO, promote biodegradable products as they naturally break down in soil.
Impacts of Retail Developments
The trend towards the development of large shopping complexes raises difficult ethical questions. Consumers become mesmerized with the array of products set out in an attractive environment of sound, color and activity. A large number of older complexes in Sydney and regional NSW are being rebuilt as their owners take advantage of advances in marketing theory.
Large shopping complexes are constructed to provide a way of life. The availability of credit along with the availability of goods sees some people spending well beyond their means. It has been argued that management of these complexes should be held accountable. This highlights the ethical issues, which arise when marketing contributes to negative social effects.
Creation of Needs
It is possible in marketing to get people to buy products that they really don’t need. The marketer is able to convince consumers that they must buy items, which are really unnecessary. Children and aged people are particularly susceptible to this type of advertising. The best example of the creations of needs is the fashion industry. The marketing concept is entirely up to the consumer. People do not have to buy, but get convinced by beauty and fashion magazines that to be attractive they must have the latest fashions.
Another example of creation of needs being exploited is the mobile phone industry. Children 10 years and even younger have mobile phones and constantly use them to call friends, send messages, download ring-tones and logos as it is the latest craze. Five years ago parents never would’ve given their child a mobile phone of their own and would not let them rely on it to call them to be picked up and so on. However in today’s day and age this is quite normal.
Selling Under the Guise of Research
Selling under the guise of research, or sugging, involves being approached to answer ‘a few simple questions’ about a product. The interview changes slowly into what is in fact a sales pitch for the product. Sugging is considered unethical because the consumer is being misled about the purpose of the interview, and privacy acts have been breached to provide the ‘sugger’ information about your preferences and lifestyle without your consent. Misleading consumers is often done to create extra sales, and while this is considered unethical, it still frequently occurs today.
Marketers invent new ways of promoting their products in ever more competitive markets. Bait and switch selling is a good example of this, a shop displays an excellent value item in the window and when you go in to buy it, you are told ‘they are out of stock, but we can sell you one of these dearer...
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