Social Criticisms of Marketing

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  • 0:01 Marketing
  • 1:08 Effect on Consumers
  • 2:37 Effect on Society
  • 3:31 Effect on Other Businesses
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Watch this video lesson to see how marketing impacts not only the consumer, but also society as a whole and other businesses. Learn why honest marketing is important.


In this lesson, we talk about marketing and how it affects others. We define marketing as promoting a product or service. Marketing includes the advertising part that we know so well from commercials and ads. But marketing also includes a part that we don't always see, such as when a company conducts market research to see what kinds of products or services its customers want. It also includes the product packaging that makes the products appealing to us as we are browsing.

When businesses engage in honest marketing, when they explain their product or service as it is, without making it look better than it is, and don't put down other businesses in the process, then marketing can have a positive effect on others as it lets people know about useful products they can use. But when marketing is not always truthful, or when it slanders others, then it can have a negative effect on others. It is this type of marketing that turns off a lot of people, and has garnered widespread criticism from society as a whole.

Effect on Consumers

When businesses engage in false marketing, it hurts the consumer. For example, a subscription face cream product advertises that its face cream will make your wrinkles go away in just seven weeks. It then goes on to advertise that if you order during the promotion you will receive one free full-size trial jar. The company neglects to tell consumers that when they order the free full-size trial jar that it actually enrolls them in a subscription service that sends them one full-size jar every month for $79.99 per month. The company also neglects to tell the consumer that the only way to end the subscription service is by sending them an official letter through the post office. You can't call to tell them you want to cancel. The company needs it in writing.

If you were on the receiving end of this subscription service, how do you think you would feel? You place an order for the free full-size trial jar, thinking it is completely free. A month later you get another jar, and you get a bill for $79.99 from your credit card company. You call the company to ask how this happened, because you didn't order another jar. The company says you are enrolled in the monthly subscription service for one jar a month. You say you want to cancel. The company says sorry, you have to write a letter and send it to this address. If it was me, I wouldn't be too happy at this point.

Effect on Society

Perhaps surprisingly, marketing is also said to contribute to pollution. Some neighborhoods view billboards and other public forms of advertising as obtrusive. Parents have been concerned that their children are exposed to too much advertising, so they limit the amount of time they let their kids spend watching TV.

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