Impact of Ethical Marketing on Consumers

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  • 0:03 Right vs. Wrong
  • 0:38 What Is Ethical Marketing?
  • 1:41 Making Ethical…
  • 2:54 Impact on Consumers
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Making ethical decisions in your marketing practice can result in myriad benefits for both your brand and your consumers. In this lesson, you'll learn more about ethical marketing practices.

Right vs. Wrong

Most of us have likely seen an image similar to this in print, on television, or in movies. It's an image of a woman trying to decide between right and wrong, represented by an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

Marketers are faced with a similar choice in their day-to-day marketing and advertising strategies and tactics. It might be easier to do the wrong thing, but it's better to do the ethical thing. Ethical marketing decisions can reap great rewards in terms of your consumers and their attitudes, perceptions, and buyer behaviors toward your business.

What Is Ethical Marketing?

Marketing ethics addresses the principles and standards that define acceptable conduct in the marketplace. While there is plenty of gray area is what individuals consider right versus wrong, there are generally agreed-upon rules about the proper way to market products or services.

Regardless of the size or location of your business, you can choose to handle your marketing and advertising to consumers in an open, honest, respectful, and fair manner. Both approaches to marketing - ethical and unethical - have an impact on consumer behavior.

Some examples of unethical marketing include:

  • Using scare tactics
  • Targeting vulnerable consumers such as children
  • Sending unsolicited or unwanted marketing messages
  • Degrading your competition
  • Creating advertisements with misleading or false information
  • Wildly exaggerating a product's advantages
  • Promising results for which there is no proof
  • Using stereotypes in advertising
  • Abusing consumers' personal information

Making Ethical Marketing Decisions

Using ethical marketing practices is not so much about creating a solidified plan as it is generally making the right decisions for your company, customers, and the marketplace in which you operate. Ethical decision-making pertains to everything from protecting the health and safety of your consumers and presenting honest and straight-forward advertising, to making decisions regarding product pricing and protecting your customers' data and privacy.

Some companies may make definitive decisions regarding advertising such as not targeting children or avoiding overt criticism of their competition. For others, the overall corporate culture dictates their decisions and responsibilities.

The American Marketing Association offers some general guidelines for marketing in an ethical manner. These include:

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