Ethical & Unethical Target Marketing in Business

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  • 0:02 Target Marketing
  • 1:15 Ethical Target Marketing
  • 2:21 Unethical Target Marketing
  • 4:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Companies are desperate to acquire customers, and some will use inappropriate ways to gain their attention. In this lesson, you'll learn how to discern ethical from unethical target marketing, using the example of marketing to vulnerable populations.

Target Marketing

Companies use advertising and marketing to gain attention and target their customers appropriately to sell products. Not all companies abide by ethical means to reach their consumers. Sadly, many businesses use manipulation and deception to achieve their sales goals. Ironically, most consumers trust that businesses look out for their interests. In this lesson, you will learn how to distinguish ethical from unethical target marketing, using marketing to vulnerable populations as an example.

Companies are desperate to acquire customers, and some will use inappropriate ways to gain their attention. Ethical target marketing occurs when businesses analyze and research consumers to see what predisposed ways might make an individual purchase a product. Predisposed ways can be numerous factors that make consumers purchase a specific way, such as personal preferences, cultural norms, or habitual purchasing.

Other companies use unethical target marketing by focusing on target markets that can be easily influenced and manipulated. Let's take a look at how companies use ethical and unethical target marketing through some case studies.

Ethical Target Marketing

Target marketing is when a company targets a specific group of customers for their product or service through advertising. The groups are organized together because they have similar beliefs and values, which leads to common purchasing patterns. Among the ethical ways companies can influence consumers are through persuading, asking, informing, and advising.

Let's take a look at some examples. Ripple Wrap targets women age 25-65 with the promise of keeping perishable items fresh. In their ads and on their website, consumers are persuaded, informed, and advised about how using their product will keep their food items fresh. Ripple's target market wants to be able to keep perishable items fresh and will pay more for a product that will support this need. Consumers view purchasing Ripple as a good investment in their household. Ripple uses persuasion, advising, and informing to educate their customers about the benefits of their products without using deceptive, manipulative target marketing.

Unethical Target Marketing

Most consumers are unaware of the standard of caveat emptor ('let the buyer beware') is part of all purchase transactions. Under this idea, businesses' only responsibility is to provide a product or service at a fair price. It is up to the consumer to research products and look out for their own interests. Companies are skilled at researching the psychological makeup of their consumers, and by understanding their customer's motivations, interests, desires, and beliefs, the easier it is to manipulate their emotions.

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