Author : Sana Anand
Background and meaning
In all spheres of life, it is essential to follow some moral principles and values. This is valid for both the personal as well as professional space. When it comes to businesses, it becomes imperative to take into account ethical principles while making decisions.
Marketing too requires application of standards of fairness and deciding what is right and what is wrong for the company. The moral rights of all the stakeholders are necessary to consider while marketing the products.
Ethics > Personal interest
I remember the very first thing I was taught in my early school days- “Sharing is Caring”. In the business world, this applies too. The businesses exploit the resources around them to create or generate products and services which could provide a utility or value to its customers. The main aim here is to maximise profits. However, it is the moral and ethical responsibility of the businesses to share the profits by contributing back to the society. This contribution does not necessarily be in the form of money. Fulfilling moral responsibilities while selling the product can be a way to ethically communicate about the product.
In order to build brand value and reputation, it is vital to build good will and reputation for firms. The consumers are well aware individuals who create a positive image of those companies which respect them as well as earn profits by giving a supreme quality product to them. On the other hand, organisations which compromise on their morals are not acknowledged by them since they run after their own self interests and not the community interests.
Marketing and unfair deceptive practices
There are companies who have only one motive which is to earn profits. Such businesses use deceptive marketing practices to increase their sales. Such strategies persuade the customers to buy the products and they end up believing that the value or the utility they will gain from the product will be more than the utility that they actually receive.
Have you ever come across a really interesting and persuading advertisement which committed to deliver something and failed to live up to expectations. Taking about my personal experience, I have seen some mouth watering television advertisements about fast food chains and when I ordered the stuff, it did not meet my expectations. Likewise, children get provoked by the little toys that come along with products like chocolates and biscuits etc. These toys serve no purpose at all but are just a tool to mislead the buyers so that they buy the product.
Misleading advertisements were also used by Volkswagen when they failed to pass the emission tests and yet were promoting that there vehicles produce less emissions. In case of India, renowned Companies which produced and sold honey like Dabur, Patanjali etc. were caught in a scuffle. All of them propagated that their honey is pure but 13 such honey manufacturing companies are adulterating it by using sugar syrup. This was found out by a recent study conducted by Centre for Science and Environment.
Contacting the customers and crossing the line
There are several companies which contact the customers while mailing them. However, sending e mails frequently to the customers turns out to be aggressive and they might feel frustrated. This is unethical as it can also considered as invading into their privacy. Some organisations also steal or buy the mailing lists from third party. This is again immoral since the information about the prospective customers is taken without their consent.
Humans associate themselves better to a product when they connect and feel the emotions. Marketing companies often use this as a tool to exploit the consumers which provoke them to buy the product. In case of India, advertisements related to baby products display the relation of mother and baby. The emotions related to motherhood, care and affection towards the baby arouse trust in the minds of the viewers. They believe that the products are safe to use on their children.
Importance of ethics in marketing
Marketing techniques are used to establish stronger relations with the customers so that the companies earn their loyalty. However, this is not as easy as it looks. The companies need to follow the morals and principles and ethically promote their products. They should always present the real picture of their products. Proper code of conduct and business ethics should be defined and followed while formulating the marketing strategies. Honest representation of details of the product will generate confidence in the minds of the customers. This will help in creating a brand value and reputation of the company which will also help in increasing the sales of the company in the long run.