Ethical marketing – Convince, not trick!

By Fateen
Jul 08 2021 5 min read

A few days ago, I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook when a certain owner’s post in a food review group caught my eyes. The photo of the post contained a mouth-watering picture of a burger, and large bold letters saying “Chicken burger @ Tk1 only!” For a moment, it appeared too good to be true. But after tapping on the “read more’ option, I realized it is another of those “buy one get one” offers. But this gave rise to some thoughts in my mind- Is it the right and ethical way to grab your customers’ attention? Are such activities setting a perception of marketers as some sort of cheap villains? So I could not help but dig a bit deeper into the traits of ethical marketing.   

In modern-day business, where branding and promotion have become such key factors, they might also pose some challenges if not handled correctly. The one crucial point that you have to deal with is people’s perception of your marketing strategies. Tricking your consumers into buying your products by false promises and promotions might work in the short term, but is sure to backfire the moment your consumers find out about your unethical marketing. Bottom line is, failing to adhere to ethical marketing standards will make a marketer’s job much more troublesome in the long run.

Right now, when the world is going through a crisis, your business will need ethical marketing more than ever. As we are experiencing a time of crisis, more and more consumers are choosing to go for brands that they believe take responsible stands. They appreciate marketing moves that are ethical, society-friendly i.e the moves that keep them aware of what they are buying. It is becoming increasingly important for them to purchase sustainable and ethical products, rather than what is convenient and cheap. And to cope up with this mentality, there is no alternative to ethical marketing.

Different people define what is ethical and what isn’t based on their thought process, making the whole matter even more sensitive. However, I could point out a few guidelines following which you might be able to adapt ethical marketing in your activities. Let’s have a look!

Focus on ethical leadership

Leaders must set examples of ethical behaviors and values, foster a sense of community, and design ethical systems that allow employees to flourish. In this way, an actual ethical culture with ethical marketing practices can be established.

The organization’s fundamental basis should be based on ethical pillars, such as honesty and justice, and these principles should be at the forefront of every business decision. To achieve this, ethical leadership must be embedded in the processes so that it becomes everyone’s responsibility to raise their voice against any unfair decisions. 

Stay miles away from deceptive marketing and false advertising

In marketing, deceptive practices apply to any behavior that includes false, erroneous, or fraudulent information, regardless of the company’s intentions. Businesses are susceptible to committing false and unethical advertising quite easily. Such advertising might include issues like hidden fees, ambiguous offers, misleading images, deceptive discounts, wrong information about content, etc.

There have been many unethical advertising practices over the years which were not taken well by the consumers at all and the companies had to face consequences. Shoemaker New Balance sold one of their sneakers claiming that using it will activate muscles and aid in consumers’ calorie burning. But as no scientific studies backed this claim, they were eventually sued. And a lawsuit is, in no way, good for a company’s brand image.

Advertising is an ideal tool for promoting and selling products when used properly. This can help consumers make informed buying decisions. So, it is detrimental to both the advertiser and the consumer when there is false and unethical advertising. You thus need to be very careful before putting an advertisement into action.

Be crystal clear

A great way to attract your customers is by practicing transparency. It can work as the key to satisfying customer experience. In every relationship, the other half admires confidence in his/her partner. Your relationship with your customers is no different. And being transparent to your customers shows that you are confident about your brand and its features, which is appealing.

On the contrary, lie to your customers or trick them and you’ll lose their loyalty in a jiffy. In the current marketplace with easily available online options, customers make their own buying decisions based on their requirements instead of a company telling them what to buy. So they tend to buy from an organization that’s honest with them.

A great example of this has been set by the clothing brand Everlane. The company doesn’t just tell the consumer that its clothes are ethically made and sold; they also provide them with an in-depth breakdown of the costs associated with each piece of clothing they sell. 

Show that you care

As consumers have so many choices, they don’t just care about your product; they’re also concerned about your company’s values. So your activities should be designed around care, empathy, and social responsibility to attract the right customers. 

You can associate your business with environment-friendly options for operations. The thought of having a positive impact on the world makes people willing to spend more.

Using a business’s resources for the good of society may be executed in a countless number of ways. You could take up a one-for-one policy, like the shoe brand TOMS. They promise that they will help someone needy for every purchased product and proudly display this in their branding aspects. They have successfully implemented such philanthropy too which earned them a lot of respect.

With the advancement of time, customers have become more conscious and sincere. They have become more aware of their options and more specific about their requirements. In such circumstances, I believe trying to trick them into buying your products will give rise to nothing but a feeling of utter disgust about your brand. So among the available paths, the wisest one to choose for marketers is the one with no trick or cunningness, just their products or services and the efforts to uphold their commitment.