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Marketing Ethics addresses head-on the ethical questions, misunderstandings and challenges that marketing raises while defining marketing as a moral activity. Marketing was easier when the economy was expanding and consumer disposable income was growing.
Today there is widespread concern about ethics in public and private life extending to many areas — politics, education, health, as well as business. I briefly review research developments in business and marketing ethics to highlight the difficulties in guiding managers on ethical business conduct. Should You Use Net Promoter Score as a Metric?Although the simplicity of net promoter score is appealing, the metric has limited support from academics. Tech Savvy: Reinventing Work With Virtual RealityWhat’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology. Social media provides a game-changing opportunity to support innovation and new product development.
Pursuing growth opportunities without defining your ideal customers can hamper profitable growth.
RESEARCH BRIEF: A dynamic array of different customer types makes for a stronger business model. The article shows that marketers rely more on peripheral clues when advertising low-nutrition food to children (and potentially their guardians).
The article uses the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a basis to categorise claims made by food advertisers when advertising food of general and low nutritional value to children. The data was derived by conducting a content analysis of adverts aired by four major children’s networks in the US, a total of nearly 800 commercials. The debate surrounding advertising of food to children, the link with obesity and the content of advertising is a highly controversial area and a very complex issue.
The article provides details of a study that challenges some of the well established and frequently quoted theories about how advergames influence children.
The article sets out to examine the influence of three different types of emotional dimensions (pleasure, arousal and dominance) onto achieving the state of flow (optimum game experience) and the resultant persuasion knowledge. The  article discusses a variety of existing research into advergames, and how these games work (which makes the article a pretty neat review article to read!). The data used for the article is based on self-reported scores of children, aged 10-12, recruited from two schools in Belgium.
The state of flow is achieved when children perceive arousal and pleasure during gameplay.  Dominance (or control) is, however, not linked to achieving a state of flow, which may be because advergames are routinely easy to play (at least in comparison to full scale ‘video games’). The other main outcome is that, at least in this particular case, a state of flow was linked with increased persuasion knowledge. In addition to a well written general review of existing theories linked to advergames, the article puts forward some interesting points and explanations for the results. My latest book, Marketing Ethics & Society, edited together with Lynne Eagle and published by Sage has just been published.
Writing and editing the book has been a lot of fun, and I hope this is reflected in the wide variety of different perspectives and cases. The article examines how singleness is experienced in the context of consumption and the “market place”.
As this is a qualitative study, the study looks in-depth into the lived experiences of the participants.
The study reveals how singles experience social and psychological isolation reinforced through market place imagery and practices.
For both academics and marketers, understanding lived experiences is important and useful, and often surprising.
Marketing is certainly no stranger to claims that it is inherently racist, and racism remains a controversial topic today (see, for example, this article by Mark Tadajewski discussing some of the issues).
While it was relatively straightforward for Colgate Palmolive (the owners of the parent company) to rebrand the toothpaste in English, the translation of the brand was less consistent. This raises many interesting questions: Why is the rebranding inconsistent in different languages? The article examines how consumers react to advertising of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, in this case specifically painkillers (analgesics).
The article draws on a wide variety of different advertising concepts that are linked to advertising attention, comprehension and subsequent potential action. The measurement instrument used consist of a questionnaire largely reliant on previously well established questions for product involvement and advertising responses, e.g. To analyse the data, the researchers use Structural Equation Modelling to create a model of how consumers respond to OTC-drug advertising, and establish which factors are important. The study is one of the few studies that look at the ever-growing OTC market, a market that has been largely neglected in academic research (we discuss some of the few studies in the chapter on Medicalisation in our forthcoming book on Marketing, Ethics & Society). Our Daily Bread (Unser tagliches Brot) is not a movie that focuses directly on marketing like the other movies I have presented as part of MAM.
It may at times be quite lengthy, so I don’t really recommend watching it in class, though a short bit of the movie might be ok. Available now is a new and really exciting book focusing on both ethical marketing as well as social marketing specifically in Asia, edited by Bang Nguyen and Chris Rowley. There is also chapter written by me in the book: The chapter looking at social marketing in China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, specifically focuses on the cross-cultural aspects of conducting social marketing in these countries. To get more information about the book, please take a look at the publisher’s website. Twenty years ago the Journal of Homosexuality published a seminal special issue looking at marketing and consumer behaviour amongst gay and lesbian consumers (published simultaneously as a book by Routledge).
In the ‘90s LGBT consumers emerged as an allegedly near mystical consumer group: educated, urban consumers with sophisticated taste, high disposable incomes and were generally regarded as opinion leaders for desirable consumer goods. Others have argued that since the 1990s, Western societies transited into a Post-Gay phase, where diverse sexual orientations are no longer relevant, and LGBT individuals have “moved beyond the gay-only ghetto (…) [and into] a world where we are free, equal and safe to live our lives” (Collard, 1998). It is evident that LGBT consumption behaviour and marketing towards, or involving LGBT consumers, has significantly changed since the 1990s, and has evolved into multifaceted behaviours, spheres and spaces. This special issue aims to bring together currently fragmented and disparate strands of research, The aim of the special issue is to advance our knowledge of the multifaceted contemporary consumption practices and stimulate debate across disciplines about the effects of, among others, commercialised gay spaces, alternative consumption practices linked to LGBT identity construction, anti-consumerist behaviour in and marketization of LGBT spaces, assimilation of the “gay community”, pinkwashing and other relevant topics. Brenkert is Professor of Business Ethics at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University.
For three decades after World War II, marketing strategies generally were built around the development of growth markets.
In this article, I provide an answer by first illustrating society’s expectations of marketers today and the challenges to basic marketing assumptions. Next, I use three examples of ethical controversy in marketing to illustrate the decline of caveat emptor.


Deontological theories employ rule-based analysis: actions are inherently right or wrong, independent of their consequences, because of the kinds of actions they are or because they conform to a formal principle. The code was not specific about the proportion of sales that must be made at reference prices. For example, advertising is deceptive and therefore illegal when it is judged by the FTC as having the capacity to deceive.
Consumer advocates often base their arguments on the work of critics of capitalism, such as the economist Galbraith. Craig Smith is associate professor of marketing at Georgetown University School of Business.
Addressing these ethical challenges, the author explains how and why the profession needs to change its practices. Previous research has shown that children are particularly susceptible to peripheral clues in advertising, such as implying approval from adults or peers, mood alteration or suggestion of increase of speed or strength. The content was then coded to use either peripheral or central cues  based on a previous scheme developed by Weber et al (2008) and special effects present in the commercial.
However, a close examination of the result shows that this is somewhat mixed: For example, low nutrition foods use more “value for money” and “quantity” appeals, linked to central processing. While it is interesting to see that different tactics are used to promote different types of food, it is noteworthy that the tactics are actually surprisingly similar in some ways. Specifically, in the study, a state of flow, generally seen as an optimum state for gameplay, resulted in higher persuasion knowledge (e.g. This in itself is an interesting study, though, I find the finding that achieving flow results in higher persuasion knowledge more compelling. The children were asked to play a game, which included brand placement in the form of a logo and a product. The researchers suggest that this may be the case because the commercial message is actually part of the gameplay itself – thus challenging the more conventional idea that gameplay is a primary task and recognising and activating persuasion knowledge in relation to commercial messages present in the games are secondary tasks.
Co-writing chapters with some amazing scholars in the field has been insightful and I’m really grateful that they contributed their views. Active interviewing encourages both parties to interact and be active participants in the interview process.
This means that a lot of meaning can be derived from the interviews and presented excerpts, yet the experiences presented in the study should not be seen as representative. For example, marketing surrounding Christmas emphasises “family” and “living as a couple”, thus reinforces the perceptions of singles as somewhat “failed” individuals. Yet, despite this large proportion of single consumers, both marketers and academics have rarely looked at single consumers.
Thus, nuanced and deep-insights, like the ones generated in this article, open up a variety of different research possibilities.
This association was further made by using a logo that showed a black male in a top hat (with a bright, white smile). The packaging on sale in Hong Kong does not make any reference to the any other name than Darlie – and uses only the English version clearly. Specifically the article tests ad involvement and attention; cognitive and affective responses and finally behavioural outcomes.
The methodology is useful for the research as it allows the researchers to quantify their factors that influence advertising attention and subsequent action.
Accordingly, the study sheds light on a largely ignored category of marketing activity, and opens up avenues for further, potentially insightful research – for example by contrasting different medical conditions, OTC-drugs for acute conditions (such as pain) with other drugs which may be more “life enhancing” etc. However, it can contribute to a powerful discussion about truth, deception and authenticity in marketing. After two decades it is timely to publish a second special issue, focussing on the developments and advancements in marketing and consumer research and reflecting the changed socio-political environment of consumption behaviour of and marketing practices targeting LGBT individuals. Many welcomed targeting, and increased visibility, of the LGBT community as a sign of growing political and social acceptance and validation. Thus, traditional consumption spaces and practices linked to lesbian and gay consumers, such as gay neighbourhoods, have been claimed to have lost their meaning (Ghaziani, 2010), and gay consumers have been assimilated into the mainstream. Moral marketing requires the company to settle on ethical choices regarding product packaging and messaging. Former Editor-in-Chief of Business Ethics Quarterly , he has published numerous articles on ethics, business ethics, and social and political philosophy. It confronts standard marketing views and offers in their place an integrated marketing concept that provides a basis for viewing the moral dimensions of marketing activities.
Satisfying customers was important, but never as important as it has become in the nineties, with the competitive pressures of largely static markets.
Society’s expectations have changed so that if caveat emptor ever was truly an adequate basis for evaluating marketing ethics, this is no longer the case. This shift in society’s expectations of marketers, which further complicates the task of guiding managers, I cover more formally in a discussion of the marketing ethics continuum.
Stark, “What’s the Matter with Business Ethics?,” Harvard Business Review, May–June 1993, pp. Farmer, “Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry a Marketing Man?,” Journal of Marketing, January 1967, pp. Judeo-Christian morality, for example, provides a body of moral rules in the Ten Commandments.
Laczniak, “Framework for Analyzing Marketing Ethics,” Journal of Macromarketing 1 (1983): 7–18. Miller, “May Unit Illegally Deceived Customers in Its Advertising Practices, Court Rules,” Wall Street Journal, 28 June 1990, p. However, the code did allow for circumstances where these criteria were not met and where the retailer had made a good faith offer to sell at the reference price, for example, in the event of merchandising mistakes. Liedtka, “Burroughs Wellcome and the Pricing of AZT” (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, 1991). Yet it is sometimes difficult to identify when advertising is deceptive, subject to the perhaps inevitably vague FTC standards. Penz, Consumer Sovereignty and Human Interests (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. Donaldson, Corporations and Morality (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1982), pp. Also, the Doctrine of Unconscionability, laid out in the Uniform Commercial Code, restricts a party to a transaction from imposing unreasonably advantageous terms if there is an absence of meaningful choice for the other party. In addition the researchers also coded for the presence pf special effects, animations etc., as these were found to be particularly persuasive for children in  previous research. Thus, the article could be the basis of an interesting discussion about claims and the link between advertising and childhood obesity (and suggested policy responses).


The book then focuses on particular areas, such as marketing to children, ethical issues surrounding medical marketing and regulatory and policy responses to potential negative effects of marketing on society. Overall, I think the book manages to explore the complexity of ethical issues facing marketers today while avoiding giving simplistic answers – especially in complex areas where there should be more open debate. In other scenarios, the market penalised singles for being single: For example, explicitly by charging a single supplement for hotels, or implicitly by having “2-for-1” offers on products. Where they have done so, marketers are experienced as penalising singles, for examples by charging a “single premium”. Interestingly the article does not draw on the Elaboration Likelihood Model, which would have been a useful addition in order to compare the proposed model from a different theoretical perspective, and arguably a more integrated approach. However, it is important to remember that it provides a general view of related factors, and indicates how these are related.
However, commercialisation has also been contentious and critical voices warned about the influence it would have on the LGBT community.
Simultaneously, marketers have become more comfortable with displaying LGBT characters in mainstream marketing campaigns, and overtly supporting LGBT activities (such as pride parades). Manuscripts should follow APA Publication Manual, 6th edition, and the style guidelines of the journal available here. Each marketer might as well grasp the company code of morals and stick to it when assembling a marketing strategy.MoralsAudit current marketing strategies and verify assuming that they are moral.
Among the books he has published are Political Freedom (1991) and Corporate Integrity and Accountability (2004) . What ethical complexities do marketers encounter in developing products, segmenting markets, advertising, and retailing? Teleological theories hold that an action is right because of the goodness of its consequences.
Gresham, “A Contingency Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision Making in Marketing,” Journal of Marketing, Summer 1985, pp.
Reidenbach, “A Framework for Analyzing Issues in Marketing,” Business and Professional Ethics Journal 5 (1986): 3–22. This draft code notwithstanding, state prosecutors still maintained the historical view of a sale as representing temporary exceptional value. O’Boyle, “Two Disparate Firms Find Keys to Success in Troubled Industries,” Wall Street Journal, 29 May 1991, pp.
Willigan, as well as two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The study also discussed specific emotional dimensions which have a positive effect on flow. Nevertheless, they can give insights into the varied lived experiences of the market place by singles.
In other words, the informants felt that marketplace practices persistently celebrated “coupledom” as a desirable and rewarding life, while rendering single consumers invisible.
The article discusses singleness in-depth, including the different experiences from male and female singles. The Learn Marketing website says you may as well ask if your company markets to youngsters, if suppliers use tyke work, if product profits are exaggerated and if high-pressure offering techniques are used. I describe the rationale for CST, discuss how managers can use it (including its application to the foregoing examples), and identify the major ethical issues in marketing to which it applies.
Wilcox, “Ethical Problems of Marketing Researchers,” Journal of Marketing Research 21 (1984): 309–324. Under utilitarianism, for example, an action is judged as right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
The industry countered that this attitude reduces price competition, with retailers obliged to maintain reference prices longer than they would wish, to permit comparative price advertising. Post, “Assessing the Nestle Boycott: Corporate Accountability and Human Rights,” California Management Review, Winter 1985, pp.
Current students (and future marketers) are sadly often reluctant to discuss criticisms of their discipline. However, although the article points out that the marketplace emphasises heterosexual couples and heteronormative practices, the article does not feature non-heterosexual consumers, which is an avenue for future research.
Today's consumer needs to purchase from a company that has high moral norms.SegmentationSegment the market you offer to so you can furnish targeted offers that meet the necessities of every segment.
Hopefully the approach in the book encourages discussion of these important challenges of marketing in class, and I think the wide variety of cases and perspectives can help to make in-class discussions interesting and engaging.
The Business Dictionary website characterizes market segmentation as the methodology of partitioning a sum market into identifiable aggregations of individuals with comparable needs. And since marketing involves a relationship with customers, what are the moral responsibilities of customers in their transactions with marketers?
What if the brand name is offensive in one language – but potentially not in another?
Marketing segmentation permits companies to practice their marketing messages to be more convincing. The book investigates the basic ethical values and principles central to marketing -- freedom, integrity, justice, privacy, and welfare -- while examining their background assumptions and broader implications for marketing.
The point when planning a moral marketing strategy, it is critical to research which segments may be intrigued by the way that you stick to moral gauges. Typically overlooked in other literature on the topic these basic norms are essential to marketing. Punctuated with several in-depth discussions of specific ethical issues marketers face, the book introduces essential concepts, principles, and theories to promote a greater overall understanding of the fundamental ways in which marketing and morality are intertwined. Velasquez, “The Ethics of Organizational Politics,” Academy of Management Review 6 (1981): 363–374. Case in point, a beatufiers company may state in a newsletter for pet holders that it doesn't test on creatures.Social ResponsibilityIncorporate corporate social authority in your marketing strategy. CSR is part of a moral marketing strategy and engages consumers who think about the ecological and social records of companies. Case in point, Starbucks is known for being a socially dependable company because of its commitment to cafe ranchers who hold fast to natural best practices.ReliabilityYou can get a charge out of a higher rate of brand unwaveringness from consumers who think about moral elements in the event that you give them a chance to know you do, as well. Abstain from culpable this market segment, and win their dedication by being the company that sticks to high moral measures.
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