Business Ethics

Ethical Issues in Marketing

Ethical Issues in Marketing Concepts

Ethical issues in marketing are a result of conflicts particular issues between the organizations or stakeholders of the organization. The Consumers or the parties involved in the transactions will have some expectations on how the transactions re to be conducted. All Marketing Concepts will have some ethical issues related to their application

The first concept that we are going to discuss is Market research. Market Research has experienced a drastic increase in popularity with the increased and widespread usage of internet and social media. Companies find it easier to connect with customers with the help of the internet and to collect individual data. Also the growth in technology has allowed them to efficiently process this data and compare it with other available data resulting efficient market research methodology.

There can be serious ethical issues related to the way in which a company performs market research. If the market research practices of a company are perceived as unethical, the company can end up having a negative image in the society or in the eyes of the customers.

Unethical marketing practices may involve selective marketing by grouping possible customers into various segments. This can lead to the lesser concentrated segments losing interest in the products and services offered. The industry attitude towards minorities is a very good example.

There is also ethics related to Advertisement and promotion of the products. If an advertisers do not follow ethics in promoting their products, it is considered an offence against morality by the law. For example, in earlier days, tobacco was promoted and advertised as a substance promoting health while in reality it is not.

There are various points of discussion when considering ethical advertising, including sexuality, violence, attitude towards children etc. Some advertisements may be offensive to some groups of people while at the same time, it is of interest to others. Female hygiene products are one example. Even advertisement of condoms are viewed as undesirable by people although it is necessary in the prevention of spreading AIDS.

Another area of concern is Political Advertising or negative advertising which highlights the disadvantages of the competitors while failing to convey their own advantages over the competitors.


Marketing policies can include TV commercials, telephonic commercials, direct mail etc. Some marketing policies or techniques such as spam mails and telemarketing pushes the limits of ethical marketing standards. Another issue is deceptive marketing techniques. They are not limited to any specific market. It is widespread and often go unnoticed by the public. There are a number of deceptive marketing tricks and can be presented to the consumers in various forms. One example is advertisers making use of humor in their advertisements to make the consumers overlook the potentially harmful side of the product.

Bait and switch is another unethical or more accurately fraudulent marketing method where the customers are lured in using advertisements of cheaply priced products or services however, later the customer finds the advertised goods are not available and they are switched to a higher priced product that was not advertised.

Another policy is planned obsolescence. In this method a product is designed to have a limited lifetime. It will become obsolete or out of fashion after a particular period of time and then the customers are made to purchase a new product.

One of the most common frauds is a pyramid scheme where the participants are promised payment or services any other forms of profit, for making other people enroll in the same scheme. It does not provide any real investments or sell any real products to the public. It works by the initial investor enrolling other people for a fee and they in turn enroll others into the scheme and the pyramid or network continues.

There are also unethical business practices related to pricing of the products and services. One of them is Bid rigging where a commercial contract is promised to one party, however, just for the sake of appearance several other parties are also made to present a bid. Another is Predatory pricing where the product or service is sold at a negligible price, for the motive of throwing competitors out of the market, or for creating barriers to enter the business.