“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
“The fastidious woman today must have immaculate underarms if she is to be unembarrassed.”
Did you know that these universally recognized statements came from marketing campaigns? Marketing is so powerful that it can perpetuate ideas in a collective society. The best ones stand the test of time but the longevity of an idea is not equal to its truthfulness: Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day; women can grow their hair wherever they want, and it definitely takes more than an apple to keep one’s body healthy.
Nonetheless, these examples just prove how marketing can strongly influence social constructs and permeate the thoughts and day-to-day lives of consumers. Other than the issue of truthfulness, there are many other ethical issues that business face today. With that said, marketing ethics have been established to keep marketers honest, and conscious about sustainability and creating positive impact. And with smarter consumers, modern times call for stronger ethical marketing.
What is Ethical Marketing?
Ethical marketing is the application of marketing ethics in strategies used to promote and sell goods and services. It can also be considered as a philosophy that shapes the future by driving companies to have a purpose to everything that they do. There is an element of giving back to internal and external stakeholders, and creating productive changes. It is not all about money but about being a good company.
Companies that genuinely practice ethical marketing are socially responsible as reflected in their core values. For every business decision they ask, “What are we? What do we stand for? Who do we serve?”
These companies believe that we’re in an era where marketing is not just about the brand but also about the consumers and the society in general. They listen to the stories of the public and integrate them into the overall marketing strategies to create long-lasting effects.
What Does Being Socially Responsible Mean in Ethical Marketing?
The definition of values has evolved along with technology, politics, and everything else. People are smarter and are more socially aware with the availability of information on the internet and the news. In fact, in 2020, about 29% of consumers worldwide took an active participation in political and social issues. Consequently, buyers want to be associated with brands that are also socially responsible.
Being socially responsible means considering people, plant, profit and purpose every day. It’s not a one-time act but a way of thinking and living. Specifically for people in marketing, it is about being open and honest with customers–not taking advantage of consumers or doing sneaky marketing tricks and techniques just to make a sale.
Below are some major considerations in ethical marketing:
Is your marketing morally sound?
Can you make your practice the universal standard in marketing? If yes, then you’re on the right track. Your marketing strategy must mean no harm to anyone. While physical safety is important, the emotional and psychological counterparts of it must not be put aside.
For example, you should never promote roller blades that didn’t pass safety standards, and you should never show an ad for a product that promotes violence. Likewise, you shouldn’t promote a brand known for exploiting workers, even though it passed the quality check and the ad seemed alright. Being morally sound as an ethical marketer also means that your company is compliant with the standards not just of the society but also of the law.
Apart from that, ethical marketers also have the responsibility of ensuring that the people they are working with such as clients and service providers are doing things ethically as well–has no environmental repercussions and have no unethical activities.
Is your marketing inclusive?
Let’s dive deeper into morality by tackling inclusivity. Today’s society is more aware of what’s fair and just. It doesn’t matter what gender, sex, race, ethnicity, colour, status, and standpoint one has—ethical marketers must know that all humans are innately worthy and valuable. Considering human’s evolution, it’s irresponsible to be unaware of today’s ethical standards.
Thus, for your marketing campaigns and tactics, create representation and do not reinforce unjust stereotypes.
Is your marketing green?
Part of your social responsibility is being considerate of the environment. With the looming climate change, global warming, deforestation, and the extinction of animals, companies must be made responsible for making changes in this regard.
Is your marketing truthful?
Decades ago, truthfulness was more or less the only consideration in ethical marketing. Today, the demand for truth is stronger with the prevalence of misinformation and misrepresentation on social media. Ethical marketing will ensure that your marketing campaigns and communications are not made to deceive the public into perceiving your brand as agreeable. Ethical marketing pushes companies to stand for truth and to promote their truth as part of their values and behaviours.
How is Ethical Marketing Shaping the Future?
Companies with ethical marketing have a stance now and how they promote social responsibility creates an impact in the lives of consumers and audiences. It’s important for companies to have a point of view of things, even outside their business, because companies that take a stand influence others to take a stand.
Ethical marketing provides a better view of the world with an approach that strives for more authenticity and more humanity.
Furthermore, ethical marketing pushes brands to have accountability for things that go beyond their own employees and investors. It also pushes companies to care and to have a corporate social responsibility that impacts communities, no matter the size. Nowadays, companies respond faster to disasters, social issues, and other crises than ever before.
Ethical marketing shapes the future by normalizing what is good and correct. It shows truths that resonate. It provides representation that boosts self-image. Times have changed but what’s consistent is the power of marketing to normalize ideas.
Ethical marketing, in particular, has the power to create a sense of safety, belongingness, fulfilment, and at the same time, the urgency to create change. It is about sustainability and creating an impact. Ethical marketers offer something concrete to the world by serving different beneficiaries, especially areas where help is most needed. Companies who practice this type of marketing reinforce the idea that it is not just about itself but, even more so, about others.
Overall, ethical marketing is about being a morally upright company who cares about the greater good and not just here for profit.
Consumers have always asked how a brand can serve their needs but, today, they also ask how a brand aligns with their values. In a survey done by Markstein and Certus Insights, they found out that 70% of consumers are socially conscious about a brand’s social responsibility efforts, whereas, 46% consider this as a standard before making a purchase.
The former is easier to answer with convenient access to information and with simplified communications technology. However, the latter is more difficult in the sense that it requires consistent messaging and visible actions and behaviours from the brand.
Ethical marketing is an organic way to gain the loyalty of consumers as no one wants to feel manipulated into decisions. When companies and agencies resort to unethical practices to improve their image or the perception of their products and services, it will surely backfire no matter how discreet they try to make it seem.
On the contrary, ethical marketing can bring awareness not just about your capabilities but also to your company’s values and culture—things that actually make your company unique.
Adopting an ethical approach may require a business to get the perspective of an external party. You may hire an outside stakeholder to help you get started as it is important to engage in marketing that is right for your brand and your consumers.
As an ethical marketing agency in London, Got Legs Digital prioritizes service over profit. They take a holistic view of the problem to offer a socially comprehensive solution that won’t hurt your pockets and ethically elevate your brand.
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