Marketing Ethics :
Marketing in favourable economic conditions
Ethical marketing practice is important for business organizations
for many reasons. Obviously good ethics enhances corporate image, brand
image and creates a favourable reputation.
What is Ethics?
Defined simply, ethics is self governing behaviour or principles.
What is ethical is not always legal, hence ethics are practiced to
demonstrate good governance.
Marketing is a discipline that always has to deal with external
public, namely competitors, customers, intermediaries and suppliers.
Hence, there are several occasions where ethical behaviour is required.
Let us examine these instances.
Marketing communication is an area where ethical behaviour is called
for. There are regulations governing the industry but good ethics can be
practiced beyond the legal requirements. For example, the careful use of
women and children in advertising, wherever appropriate. Not abusing
children in advertising by getting them to endorse brands, instead of
products. Not using women as pin-ups for brands that have no relevance
to women at all. Another area where ethics in Marketing Communications
is violated is making false claims or hidden promises. For example get
discounts up to 50% but the highest discount is only 20%!!. Product X
eliminates something but it only controls. Marketers must not hoodwink
customers as the negative word-of-mouth can be really damaging. Be
honest and promise only what your product or brand can deliver and you
will get long term results.
Packaging is another area, where ethics can be practiced. False
claims on packaging should not be made, such as made out of recycled
material etc., if it is not the case. Packaging regulations is one
thing, ethics are altogether something else. If packaging regulations
are flouted, legal repercussions will arise. When conducting
intermediary promotions be ethical. Don’t request a retailer to stop
selling competitor products, since it goes against the principles of
retailing. Whilst this is not illegal, it is not ethical. Asking a
retailer to give preference for your brand is ethical, given the special
Most marketers are now investing in sophisticated CRM software, to
track customer purchasing and shopping behaviour. However, the
confidentiality of this information must be ensured and no third party
should have access to it. This would violate the privacy of the customer
and constitute to unethical behaviour. Permission should be obtained
from customers in advance to use their purchase data, for promotional
purposes and relationship building. (Permission Marketing).
Exploitative pricing is not at all ethical. Consumers should not be
abused utilizing a special market opportunity. Legally there may not be
a problem, but making super profits at the expense of customers is not
ethical. Even differential pricing is being questioned on ethical
When it comes to products, certain raw materials are legal but not
ethical. Marketers are called upon to take a decision in such
situations. Using raw materials which are both legal and ethical are
A commitment to good social and community practices can also be
classified as good marketing ethics. After all, the community comprises
your customers and you need to deal with them ethically.
The Benefits of Practicing Good Marketing Ethics
1. The image of the organization is enhanced, together with the image
of the brands marketed.
2. Customers become more loyal and committed to the organizations
3. Better social and community relationships can be built.
4. Less external pressures on the organization by regulators.
5. Customers may give preference to the organizations products and
“Good marketing ethics is good business.”