Ethics of marketing

Ethics of marketing or marketing ethics is the study of how moral standards play an integral role in marketing decisions and behavior. Marketing ethics deals with how marketing should operate according to certain moral standards. Marketing ethics help marketing strategies to become more consumer-friendly and socially compatible. Marketing ethics also raises certain questions. Does transparency mean that trade secrets should never be allowed? Does marketing ethics involve keeping organizational promises to customers or does it cover more? Who decides what marketing ethics needs to be applied? Should the consumers, the regulatory agencies, or a wider cross-section of society decide?

Ethics in product management

Ethics in the management of products is central to marketing as the process of marketing begins with a product which includes goods and services. The most important concern in this area is about the safety of products. The safety of products is a basic customer expectation. Sometimes marketers fail the safety test. For instance, during the Christmas season, many consumer advocacy groups assess  toys that are potentially dangerous for children unless they are used under adult supervision. Often, there are instances of product counterfeiting. This involves manufacturing illegal copies of patented products and violating registered copyrights.

Ethics in pricing

The price of a product is normally affected by three important factors such as cost, demand, and competition. Organizations are entitled to profits but the fairness of pricing has been a subject of debate since decades.

Implementing marketing ethics

At the core of marketing ethics lies the issue of how to improve the ethical behavior of companies as they execute their marketing tasks and responsibilities. This involves the CMO embracing ethical values and living them. This is the first step in ethical marketing. Ethical values should also be made operational in a code of conduct that addresses issues that are most common to a particular industry or sector.  For instance, companies that resort to online retail must address privacy policies for their shoppers. The code of marketing ethics should also be dynamic and periodically revised. The code of ethics should also be communicated well enough through the entire organization so that all employees can verbalize its essential values. A periodic marketing ethics audit should also be used as a tool to check the compliance of a company with ethics policies and procedures. When ethical violations occur, punitive measures should be taken. When employees perform in an ethically exemplary fashion, they should also be rewarded. For instance, Johnson and Johnson conducts audits that include the evaluation of multiple marketing dimensions.

Ethics should be at the heart of a company’s purpose. An organization has to increase its profitability and grow its revenue. Consumer goods and services can be rewarded with financial profit in spite of keeping marketing ethics at its core, for that proper calculation is required. A large section of customers are willing to pay more for goods and services that are sustainable. Marketing ethics does not exactly have rigid guidelines. Businesses should incorporate ethical practices in marketing that does not distort the truth.

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