What Is the Importance of Marketing Ethics?

Esther Ejim
Esther Ejim
Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Generally, ethics refer to the way in which people relate in a moral manner toward others in all of their various interactions. Marketing ethics refer specifically to the application of this basic morality in the conduct of business with their consumers and other related parties. Such a practice must necessarily include a conscious attempt by the businesses under consideration to apply moral principles when they are dealing with clients or other customers, especially when it comes to the production, pricing and promotion of their goods or services. Some ethical issues are universal, while some are derived from the culture and beliefs of various people. As such, various companies must necessarily incorporate this consideration in their marketing ethics.

An example of how marketing tactics can be derived from the cultural or societal values of the particular group of people in the environment that the business is operating can be explained by using the example of the practice of animal testing. Some cultures are more offended by the issue of animal testing than others due to the type of values in place in those societies. A cosmetics company in a less-developed country where poverty is still prevalent might not have the luxury of seeking alternative forms of testing for their products. In this case, the subject of the practice of animal testing might not be a big issue, and even the customers might not be too concerned about any such practice since they might not have too many alternatives. By contrast, a company in a developed country might face boycotting from consumers if they engage in the practice simply because their culture is one of affluence and they have a lot of alternatives to the product produced by this manufacturer.

Marketing ethics may also refer to the manner in which a business presents its products to consumers, such as engaging in double speak or deliberately misrepresenting information or facts in order to generate more sales and make more profit. For example, a company could deliberately package its product to look like that of another popular product even though it knows that its own version is substandard. This company might rely on the fact that not a lot of people will look too closely to tell the difference between the two products. Not only would such a misapplication of marketing ethics be morally reprehensible, it would also be basis for a lawsuit if the other company can prove that it is capitalizing on its product identity to generate sales. As such, the issue of the application of marketing ethics is one that helps ensure that consumers and clients do not get a raw deal from manufacturers.

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Discussion Comments


There are companies that don't practice marketing ethics or any kind of ethics? Business is about making money in large part, but there are plenty of businesses that are honest. You shouldn't judge everyone by a few bad apples.

Companies know they need to make customers happy to succeed over the long haul, and in order to do this they need to be upfront, or at least make their customers think they are being honest and not deceiving them to make money.


I got so tired of buying water hoses and having them sprout leaks in a matter of days, or weeks when I was lucky. I would buy new hoses and think I would be able to add to them, so I would have enough hoses connected to reach all over my yard. Then by the time I am ready to buy more the first ones need to be replaced.

I saw this commercial on TV about these hoses that are supposed to last forever. They are marketed as being light weight, taking up less space than regular hoses and as being indestructible. I bought one, and asked my husband did he think the hose was worth the extra cost. It is much more expensive than a regular hose.

My husband said sure it's worth a shot. We used the hose for a week and I loved it. I decided to buy a second one, and that's what I did. So we had two expensive hoses, but I felt good about the purchases.

A couple days after I bought the second one, the first one sprung a leak. My husband saw how upset I was, so he said he would patch the hose, which he did. Since then, the hose has sprung a couple more leaks, and I get so angry every time I use the hoses. Where is the truth in advertising?


Some companies just lie when they start marketing a product. I don't know how to put a percentage on how many companies have marketing ethics and how many don't, but I believe that most of them will do about whatever it takes to make money. They are only concerned with the bottom line, and not getting sued and having to pay out a lot of money.

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