Marketing ethics concerns the application of ethical considerations to marketing decision making . Marketing ethics can be considered as moral judgement and behaviour standards in marketing practice or moral code or system in marketing area.
In other words, marketing ethics is the research of the base and structure of rules of conduct, standards, and moral decisions relating to marketing decisions and practices.
Marketing executives who take strategic decisions often face with ethical conditions and their decisions is related to all sides of marketing mix as product, price, place and promotion. Marketing executives' ethical decision making process related to these decisions is affected by miscellaneous ways as philosophical, economical, sociological, psychological, and religious.
In this study, marketing ethics is studied according to elements of marketing mix as product, price, place and promotion.
Ethics and Product Decisions
Marketing executives face with a lot of ethical problems related to planning and application of product strategies. For example,
• in new product development process, since ethics and legal subjects are discussed less than it is needed, faulty products are put on the market and so these products damage consumers. This grows out of seeing product security as engineering problem in most. Similarly, some product areas such as especially toys for children are sensitive to the ethical problems . For this reason, ethical way of thinking should come into all levels of marketing from engineering to customer support
• Other ethical issues related to product decisions, information on labels can sometimes be used as deceptive although it is technically true, rubbish problem which packing cause after its usage, failing in terms of guarantee related to product and performing planned product obselence to shorten product life cycle. .
Ethics and Pricing Decisions
Pricing is probably one of the most difficult areas of marketing when it is
analyzed from the ethical point of view. Ethically, price should be equal or
proportional to benefit which is taken by the consumers.
• However, when monopolistic power is had, it is seen that unreasonable price increase is set.
• Other ethical issues related to pricing include non-price price increases, misleading price reduction, price advertisements which can be misleading or considered as deceitful and their limits are not explained well,
Ethics and Distribution Decisions
Ethical issues related to place grow out of enterprises, which form channel of distribution, have different needs and goals. At power relationship in the channel, if channel members to put their power which they have into bad use, this may cause an ethical problem. For example, a powerful manufacturer may force retailer to conduct in different ways in subjects such as choice of retailer locations, minimum order size, product mix selection, restriction on alternative supply resources and arrangement of physical condition in retailer’s location.
Other ethical issues result in subjects as retailing decisions, direct marketing, supply and channel management.
• Ethical issues related to retailing decisions eventuate in areas such as buying, product assortment, pricing, selling, forward buying and slotting allowances.
• Ethical issues in direct marketing are the subjects which are privacy, confidentiality and intrusion
• Ethical problems which are faced while using of internet for marketing are reliability of operations, illegal activities, privacy, accuracy, pornographic, product guarantees, burglary, aiming at children, spams, deceptive advertisements.
Ethics and Promotion Decisions
Ethical issues related to promotion can be analysed under two headings as
• advertising and
• personal selling.
Advertisements are one of the ways of marketing which is criticised most from an ethical point of view. Unilateral advertising message, preconceived advertising messages, advertisements breaking programmes are criticized.
Whether advertisements are ethics or not is determined according to the extent of loss of advertisements to consumers. Loss can be defined in three ways:
• breach of the autonomy with control or manipulation,
• aggression to privacy, and
• breach of right to know .
Ethical problems in advertising can be analysed under two main headings:
• the content of advertising message and
• agent/customer relationships.
The relationship between advertising and ethics can be analysed from the point of view of persuasive trait of advertising, deception, puffery and making promises that cannot be kept. Other ethical issues related to advertising include advertising to children, demonstrations, mock-ups, endorsements and testimonials.