This Lesson examines the social effects of private marketing
practices. A marketing system should
sense, serve, satisfy consumer needs and improve the quality of
consumers’ lives. In working to
meet the consumer’s needs, marketers may take some actions that are not
approved of by all the
consumers or publics within the social sector. Marketing managers must
understand the criticism
that the marketing function may encounter.
By understanding the
criticism, the manager is better
prepared to respond to it in a proactive manner. Some of the criticism
is justified; some is not.
After this Lesson students should be able to Identify the major social
criticisms of marketing.
Describe the principles of socially responsible marketing. Explain the
role of ethics in marketing.
MARKETING AND SOCIETY
Responsible marketers discover what consumers want and respond with
the right products at right
price to give good value to buyers, and profit to the producer. The
marketing concept is a
philosophy of customer satisfaction and mutual gain. Its practice leads
the economy by an
invisible hand to satisfy the many and changing needs of millions of
consumers. Not all marketers
follow the marketing concept; however private transactions may involve
larger questions of public
policy (i.e., the illustration of the sale of cigarettes). Two major
issues in marketing are ethics and
Social responsibilities which we will be discussing today.
A. Social Criticisms of Marketing
Marketing receives much criticism. Some of this is justified and some
is not. Social critics claim
that certain marketing practices hurt individual consumers, society as a
whole, and other business
a. Marketing’s Impact on Individual Consumers:
Consumers have many concerns about how well the marketing system
serves their interests. There
are six primary criticisms leveled at the marketing function by
consumers, consumer advocates,
and government agencies.
i. Harming consumers through high prices.
ii. Deceptive practices.
iii. High-pressure selling.
iv. Shoddy or unsafe products.
v. Planned obsolescence.
vi. Poor service to disadvantaged consumers.
i. Harming consumers through high prices:
Many critics charge the marketing system
causes prices to be higher than need be. Some factors to which these
critics point are as
• High costs of distribution.
Greedy intermediaries mark up prices beyond the value of
their services. There are too many intermediaries and they duplicate
services. Resellers have
responded by saying that: the work performed by the intermediaries is
necessary and takes
away the responsibility from the consumer or the manufacturer, the
rising markup is really
the result of improved services, operating costs are driving up prices,
in reality, profit
margins are low because of intense competition. Strong retailers
pressure their channel
members to keep prices low.
• High advertising and promotion costs.
Marketing is accused of driving up promotion
and advertising costs. Marketers respond by saying that: consumers want
more than the
merely functional qualities of products, they want psychological
benefits, branding, even
though it may cost more, gives buyers confidence, heavy advertising is
needed to inform
millions of potential buyers of the merits of a brand, Heavy advertising
may be necessary for a firm to match competitors’ efforts. Companies are
and try to spend their promotional dollars wisely.
• Excessive markups.
Critics charge that some companies mark up goods excessively. This
charge is responded by the marketers respond by saying as: most
businesses try to deal
fairly with consumers because they want the repeat business, most
consumer abuses are
unintentional, When shady marketers do take advantage of consumers, and
they should be
reported to the authorities, Consumers often do not understand the
reason for the high
ii. Deceptive Pricing:
Marketers are sometimes accused of deceptive practices that lead
consumers to believe that they will get more value than they actually
do. Three groups
exist with respect to these alleged practices:
1). Deceptive pricing includes such practices as falsely advertising
“factory” or “wholesale”
prices, or a large reduction from a phony high list price.
2). Deceptive promotion includes such practices as overstating the
product’s features or
performance, luring the customer to the store for a bargain that is out
of stock, or running rigged
3). Deceptive packaging includes exaggerating package contents through
subtle design, not
filling the package to the top, using misleading labeling, or describing
size in misleading terms.
Deceptive practices have led to legislation and other consumer
protection actions. Marketers argue
that most companies avoid deceptive practices because such practices
harm their business in the
long run. According to some experts, some puffery, however, will always
iii. High-pressure selling:
High-pressure selling is another criticism of marketing. Laws
require door-to-door salespeople to announce that they are selling a
product. Also, buyers
have a “three-day cooling-off period” in which they can cancel a
contract after rethinking
iv. Shoddy and Unsafe products:
Shoddy or unsafe products are another criticism leveled
against marketers. Complaints include: 1). Complaints about products not
well or services were not performed well. 2). Products deliver little
benefit. 3). Product
safety has been a problem for several reasons:
a). Manufacturer indifference.
b). Increased production complexity.
c). Poorly trained labor.
d). Poor quality control.
Responses to these complaints from marketers are positive. Marketers in
general want to make
beneficial and safe products.
v. Planned obsolescence:
Planned obsolescence is a strategy of causing products to become
obsolete before they actually need replacement and is a criticism
leveled by consumers.
Fashion is often cited as an example. Marketers respond that consumers
changes; they get tired of old goods and want a new look. Much of
obsolescence is actually the normal interaction of competitive and
technological forces in
a free society.
vi. poor service:
In contemporary society poor service to disadvantaged consumers is
criticism against marketing. Clearly, better marketing systems must be
built in low-income
areas. Critics believe the poor have been exploited by marketers.
b. Marketing’s Impact on Society as a Whole
Some criticisms have also been leveled at marketing because of its
perceived negative impact on
society as a whole. Criticisms include marketing creating:
i. False wants and too much materialism.
People are judged by what they own rather than
who they are. This criticism perhaps overstates the power of business to
create needs. Our
needs are influenced by other forces than just marketing needs. Some
even see materialism
as a positive force.
ii. Producing too few social goods.
There needs to be more of a balance between social
(public) and private goods. Options are the government could require
more safety be built
into products (autos for example), or make consumers pay social costs.
iii. Cultural pollution.
Constant assaults on privacy by advertising and noise
clutter. Marketing answers by saying: Marketers hope that their ads
reach primarily the
target audience; ads make much of television and radio free to users and
keep down the
costs of magazines and newspapers.
iv. Too much political power.
companies do promote and protect their own interests. They have a
right to. Counter forces are in
p lace to offset business promotional and political power.
c. Marketing’s Impact on Other Businesses
Critics charge that a company’s marketing practices can harm other
companies and reduce
competition. Three problems are involved:
1). Acquisitions of competitors. There may be too many of these
according to some
acquisition is a complex subject, however, and sometimes acquisition may
be good for
2). Marketing practices that create barriers to entry. Patents and heavy
are often cited
3). Unfair competitive marketing practices. Predatory competition is
dangerous to the
overall well-being of the economy. To distinguish between what is
predatory and what is
healthy competition is often difficult.
B. Marketing Ethics
Marketing Ethics are marketers’ standards of conduct and moral
values. People develop standards
of ethical behavior based on their own systems of values and that may
differ from employer’s
organizational ethics, which produces conflicts Conscientious marketers
face many moral
dilemmas. Companies need to develop corporate marketing ethics
that everyone in the organization must follow. Areas of concern include:
1). Distributor relations.
2). Advertising standards.
3). Customer service.
5). Product development.
6). General ethical standards.
The finest guidelines cannot resolve all the difficult ethical
situations a marketer faces. What
principle should guide companies and marketing managers on issues of
ethical and social
responsibility? Two general philosophies are used:
1). Issues are decided by the free market and legal system. Under this
system companies and
their managers are not responsible for making moral judgments. Companies
can do whatever the
2). Issues are the responsibility of individual companies and managers.
This approach says
that the company should have a “social conscience” that guides action.
This is a more enlightened
Each company and marketing manager must work out a philosophy of
socially responsible and
ethical behavior. Remember that written codes do not ensure ethical
behavior. The issue of ethics
provides special challenges for international marketers. Bribery may be
socially acceptable in one
country and completely illegal in another. Companies must commit to a
single ethical standard
that can be applied worldwide. Many industrial and professional
associations have suggested codes
of ethics; many companies are now adopting their own codes. Companies
programs to teach managers about important ethics issues and help them
find the proper
responses. Still, written codes and ethics programs do not ensure
ethical behavior. Given the
challenges of this century, companies that are able to create new values
in a socially-responsible
way w ay will have a world to conquer.
Business firms have been the target of organized consumer movements
1). Right to introduce any product in any size and style, provided it is
not hazardous to
personal health or safety; or, if it is, to include proper warnings and
2). Right to charge any price for the product, provided no
discrimination exists among
similar kinds of buyers.
3). Right to spend any amount to promote the product, provided it is not
defined as unfair
4). Right to use any product message, provided it is not misleading or
dishonest in content
5). Right to use buying incentive schemes, provided they are not unfair
Traditional buyers’ rights include:
1). Right not to buy a product that is offered for sale.
2). Right to expect the product to be safe.br>
3). Right to expect the product to perform as claimed.
4). Right to be well informed about important aspects of the product.
5). Right to be protected against questionable products and marketing
6). Right to influence products and marketing practices in ways that
will improve the
“quality of life.”
Consumers have the right but also the responsibility to protect
themselves instead of leaving this
ffunction to someone else.
Environmentalists are concerned with marketing’s effects on the
environment and with the costs
of serving consumers needs and wants. Environmentalism is an organized
movement of concernedbr>
citizens and government agencies to protect and improve people’s living
Environmentalists are not against marketing and consumption. They simply
want people and
organizations to operate with more care for the environment. The
marketing system’s goal should
be to maximize “life quality.” Companies are adopting policies of
developing strategies that both sustain the environment and produce
profits for the company. The
challenge is to develop a sustainable global economy. Environmental
sustainability has several
• Pollution prevention—this involves more than pollution control
(cleaning up waste after it
has been created). It means eliminating or minimizing waste before it is
marketing programs have helped.
• Product stewardship—minimizing not just pollution from production but
environmental impacts throughout the full product life cycle a]. Many
adopting design for environment (DFE practices, which involve thinking
ahead in the
design stage to create products that are easier to recover, reuse, or
• New environmental technologies—new technologies.
• Sustainability vision—serves as a guide to the future. It shows how
products and services, processes, and policies must evolve and what new
be developed to get there. Environmentalism creates special challenges
marketers because environmental policies vary widely between countries.
There are no
C. Enlightened Marketing
Enlightened marketing is a philosophy holding that a company’s
marketing should support the best
long-run performance of the marketing system. It has five principles:
a. Consumer-oriented marketing.
A principle of enlightened marketing which
holds that the company should view and organize its marketing activities
cconsumer’s point of view.
b. Innovative marketing.
A principle of enlightened marketing that requires that a
company seek real product and marketing improvements.
c. Value marketing.
A principle of enlightened marketing which holds that a
company should put most of its resources into value-building marketingbr>
d. Sense-of-mission marketing.
A principle of enlightened marketing that holds
that a company should define its mission in broad social terms rather
e. Societal marketing.
A principle of enlightened marketing which holds that a
company should make marketing decisions by considering consumer’s wants,
company’s requirements, consumer’s long-run interests, and society’s
interests. A societal oriented marketer wants to design products that
and beneficial. Products can be classified according to their degree of
consumer satisfaction and long-run consumer benefit. Degree of
• Deficient products are products that have neither immediate appeal nor
long-term benefits. Example: bad-tasting medicine.
• Pleasing products are products that give high immediate satisfaction
may hurt consumers in the long-run. Example: cigarettes.
• Salutary products are products that have low appeal but may benefit
consumers in the long-run. Example: seat belts and air bags.
• Desirable products are products that give both high immediate
aand high long-run benefits. Example: a tasty and nutritious food.
Key Principles for Public policy towards Marketing:
Certain public policy principles can be used to make the marketing
more effective these principles include full consumer and producer
freedom, potential harms should be eliminated,
producers should meet the basic needs of the consumers, there should be
economic efficiency consumers and producers both should be on beneficent
in practicing the exchange process, producer should ensure the
innovation , consumer should be provided full knowledge about the
products and should be protected against any sort of unethical and
illegal practicesby the producers.