Marketing and Ethics Ethics? Marketing?? Avoiding bad Doing good Being good
Ethics? Marketing?? • Marketing is all about understanding and providing what people want… • …sometimes even before they know they want it • Part of a process that has driven vast increases in material prosperity • But some just can’t see ‘marketing’ and ‘ethics’ in the same sentence • …without rolling their eyes • Why is that?
Ethics? Marketing?? • Marketing does have some issues of its own… • …truth-telling, privacy, product performance etc • …but it can also get the blame for broader issues: • Resource depletion • Waste • Materialism and greed • Ill-health etc from over-consumption
Ethics? Marketing?? • Is a hedonistic society attributable to consumer marketing? • O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy (2002): No – marketing serves, but does not create basic human motives (status, power, pleasure etc): ‘materialism became part of the human condition long before the first advertising executive’ • Abela (2006) and O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy (2007): debate continues and broadens • (Booz & Co 2010): anyway, ‘frugality’ may be the new trend for consumers
Avoiding bad • Game theory and reputations • Building trust is the familiar way out of the prisoners’ dilemma – behave yourself, because you do better that way • Especially in the age of the Internet • Regulation and self-regulation • Example of the ASA – decades of effective control of badness, run by the industry • The power of the Nudge • Understanding ‘choice architecture’ can help marketers design offerings so that customers choose good things of their own free will
Doing good • Self-interest: competitively innovating products that make life easier, more pleasant, safer etc • Self-interest: design offerings that credibly appeal to ethical consumers • Cause-Related Marketing: linking brands with good causes for mutual benefit • Corporate Social Responsibility: using company resources to pursue social projects • Altruistically? • Or to win approval from stakeholders? • (n.b. long-running argument about ‘hypocritical window-dressing’)
Being good • Porter and Kramer (2006) – strategic CSR: seek new ways of deploying competitive advantage to do good • Virtue of diligence in marketing relationships (Murphy et al 2007) • Create an ethical network of relationships (Lindfelt and Tornoos 2006) • Help customers to do the right thing (Carrigan and de Pelsmacker, 2009)
Being good • “We're doing this because it's what you want us to do. It's also the right thing to do. We're calling it Plan A because we believe it's now the only way to do business.” (M&S Plan A Website) • “Our founder's vision of a successful business powered by its people and its principles defines our unique company today. The profits and benefits created by our success are shared by all our Partners.” (John Lewis Website)
Conclusions • Being good in marketing is more than just avoiding bad • …but avoiding bad is where you start • Being good is neither guaranteed by meaning well, nor negated by: • Acting in self-interest • Acting prudentially • Professional presentation(!) • And companies that are seen as good are trusted to lead and educate, not just follow.
References • Abela, A V (2006), Marketing and consumerism: a response to O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 40, 1, 5-16 • Booz & Co (2010), The new consumer frugality: adapting to the enduring shift in US consumer spending and behaviour, http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00023?gko=bb11c&cid=enews20100316accessed 18 March 2010 • Carrigan, M and de Pelsmacker, P (2009), Will ethical consumers sustain their values in the global credit crunch?, International Marketing Review, 26/6, 674-687 • Friedman M (1970), ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’, New York Times Magazine, 13/9/1970 • Lindfelt, L and Törnoos, J (2006), Ethics and value creation in business research: comparing two approaches, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 40, 3, 328-351 • Murphy, P E, Laczniak, G R and Wood, G (2007), An ethical basis for relationship marketing: a virtue ethics perspective, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 41, 1, 37-57 • O’Shaughnessy, J and O’Shaughnessy, N J (2002), Marketing, the consumer society and hedonism, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 36, 5, 524-547 • O’Shaughnessy, J and O’Shaughnessy, N J (2007), reply to criticisms of marketing, the consumer society and hedonism, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 41, 1, 7-16 • Porter M E and Kramer M R (2006), Strategy and society: the link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility, Harvard Business Review, December 2006, 78-92 • Thaler, R H and Sunstein, C R (2008), Nudge: improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness, Yale University Press