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Principles of Marketing

5.7 Ethical Concerns and Target Marketing

Principles of Marketing5.7 Ethical Concerns and Target Marketing

Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. Setting the Stage
    1. 1 Unit Introduction
    2. 1 Marketing and Customer Value
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 1.1 Marketing and the Marketing Process
      3. 1.2 The Marketing Mix and the 4Ps of Marketing
      4. 1.3 Factors Comprising and Affecting the Marketing Environment
      5. 1.4 Evolution of the Marketing Concept
      6. 1.5 Determining Consumer Needs and Wants
      7. 1.6 Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
      8. 1.7 Ethical Marketing
      9. Chapter Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      12. Critical Thinking Exercises
      13. Building Your Personal Brand
      14. What Do Marketers Do?
      15. Marketing Plan Exercise
      16. Closing Company Case
      17. References
    3. 2 Strategic Planning in Marketing
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 2.1 Developing a Strategic Plan
      3. 2.2 The Role of Marketing in the Strategic Planning Process
      4. 2.3 Purpose and Structure of the Marketing Plan
      5. 2.4 Marketing Plan Progress Using Metrics
      6. 2.5 Ethical Issues in Developing a Marketing Strategy
      7. Chapter Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      10. Critical Thinking Exercises
      11. Building Your Personal Brand
      12. What Do Marketers Do?
      13. Marketing Plan Exercise
      14. Closing Company Case
      15. References
  3. Understanding the Marketplace
    1. 2 Unit Introduction
    2. 3 Consumer Markets and Purchasing Behavior
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 3.1 Understanding Consumer Markets and Buying Behavior
      3. 3.2 Factors That Influence Consumer Buying Behavior
      4. 3.3 The Consumer Purchasing Decision Process
      5. 3.4 Ethical Issues in Consumer Buying Behavior
      6. Chapter Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      9. Critical Thinking Exercises
      10. Building Your Personal Brand
      11. What Do Marketers Do?
      12. Closing Company Case
      13. References
    3. 4 Business Markets and Purchasing Behavior
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 4.1 The Business-to-Business (B2B) Market
      3. 4.2 Buyers and Buying Situations in a B2B Market
      4. 4.3 Major Influences on B2B Buyer Behavior
      5. 4.4 Stages in the B2B Buying Process
      6. 4.5 Ethical Issues in B2B Marketing
      7. Chapter Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      10. Critical Thinking Exercises
      11. Building Your Personal Brand
      12. What Do Marketers Do?
      13. Closing Company Case
      14. References
    4. 5 Market Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 5.1 Market Segmentation and Consumer Markets
      3. 5.2 Segmentation of B2B Markets
      4. 5.3 Segmentation of International Markets
      5. 5.4 Essential Factors in Effective Market Segmentation
      6. 5.5 Selecting Target Markets
      7. 5.6 Product Positioning
      8. 5.7 Ethical Concerns and Target Marketing
      9. Chapter Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      12. Critical Thinking Exercises
      13. Building Your Personal Brand
      14. What Do Marketers Do?
      15. Marketing Plan Exercise
      16. Closing Company Case
      17. References
    5. 6 Marketing Research and Market Intelligence
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 6.1 Marketing Research and Big Data
      3. 6.2 Sources of Marketing Information
      4. 6.3 Steps in a Successful Marketing Research Plan
      5. 6.4 Ethical Issues in Marketing Research
      6. Chapter Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      9. Critical Thinking Exercises
      10. Building Your Personal Brand
      11. What Do Marketers Do?
      12. Marketing Plan Exercise
      13. Closing Company Case
      14. References
    6. 7 Marketing in a Global Environment
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 7.1 The Global Market and Advantages of International Trade
      3. 7.2 Assessment of Global Markets for Opportunities
      4. 7.3 Entering the Global Arena
      5. 7.4 Marketing in a Global Environment
      6. 7.5 Ethical Issues in the Global Marketplace
      7. Chapter Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      10. Critical Thinking Exercises
      11. Building Your Personal Brand
      12. What Do Marketers Do?
      13. Closing Company Case
      14. References
    7. 8 Marketing in a Diverse Marketplace
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 8.1 Strategic Marketing: Standardization versus Adaptation
      3. 8.2 Diversity and Inclusion Marketing
      4. 8.3 Multicultural Marketing
      5. 8.4 Marketing to Hispanic, Black, and Asian Consumers
      6. 8.5 Marketing to Sociodemographic Groups
      7. 8.6 Ethical Issues in Diversity Marketing
      8. Chapter Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      11. Critical Thinking Exercises
      12. Building Your Personal Brand
      13. What Do Marketers Do?
      14. Closing Company Case
      15. References
  4. Product, Promotion, Price, and Place
    1. 3 Unit Introduction
    2. 9 Products: Consumer Offerings
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 9.1 Products, Services, and Experiences
      3. 9.2 Product Items, Product Lines, and Product Mixes
      4. 9.3 The Product Life Cycle
      5. 9.4 Marketing Strategies at Each Stage of the Product Life Cycle
      6. 9.5 Branding and Brand Development
      7. 9.6 Forms of Brand Development, Brand Loyalty, and Brand Metrics
      8. 9.7 Creating Value through Packaging and Labeling
      9. 9.8 Environmental Concerns Regarding Packaging
      10. 9.9 Ethical Issues in Packaging
      11. Chapter Summary
      12. Key Terms
      13. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      14. Critical Thinking Exercises
      15. Building Your Personal Brand
      16. What Do Marketers Do?
      17. Marketing Plan Exercise
      18. Closing Company Case
      19. References
    3. 10 Maintaining a Competitive Edge with New Offerings
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 10.1 New Products from a Customer’s Perspective
      3. 10.2 Stages of the New Product Development Process
      4. 10.3 The Use of Metrics in Evaluating New Products
      5. 10.4 Factors Contributing to the Success or Failure of New Products
      6. 10.5 Stages in the Consumer Adoption Process for New Products
      7. 10.6 Ethical Considerations in New Product Development
      8. Chapter Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      11. Critical Thinking Exercises
      12. Building Your Personal Brand
      13. What Do Marketers Do?
      14. Closing Company Case
      15. References
    4. 11 Services: The Intangible Product
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 11.1 Classification of Services
      3. 11.2 The Service-Profit Chain Model and the Service Marketing Triangle
      4. 11.3 The Gap Model of Service Quality
      5. 11.4 Ethical Considerations in Providing Services
      6. Chapter Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      9. Critical Thinking Exercises
      10. Building Your Personal Brand
      11. What Do Marketers Do?
      12. Closing Company Case
      13. References
    5. 12 Pricing Products and Services
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 12.1 Pricing and Its Role in the Marketing Mix
      3. 12.2 The Five Critical Cs of Pricing
      4. 12.3 The Five-Step Procedure for Establishing Pricing Policy
      5. 12.4 Pricing Strategies for New Products
      6. 12.5 Pricing Strategies and Tactics for Existing Products
      7. 12.6 Ethical Considerations in Pricing
      8. Chapter Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      11. Critical Thinking Exercises
      12. Building Your Personal Brand
      13. What Do Marketers Do?
      14. Marketing Plan Exercise
      15. Closing Company Case
      16. References
    6. 13 Integrated Marketing Communications
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 13.1 The Promotion Mix and Its Elements
      3. 13.2 The Communication Process
      4. 13.3 Integrated Marketing Communications
      5. 13.4 Steps in the IMC Planning Process
      6. 13.5 Ethical Issues in Marketing Communication
      7. Chapter Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      10. Critical Thinking Exercises
      11. Building Your Personal Brand
      12. What Do Marketers Do?
      13. Marketing Plan Exercise
      14. Closing Company Case
      15. References
    7. 14 The Promotion Mix: Advertising and Public Relations
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 14.1 Advertising in the Promotion Mix
      3. 14.2 Major Decisions in Developing an Advertising Plan
      4. 14.3 The Use of Metrics to Measure Advertising Campaign Effectiveness
      5. 14.4 Public Relations and Its Role in the Promotion Mix
      6. 14.5 The Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Relations
      7. 14.6 Ethical Concerns in Advertising and Public Relations
      8. Chapter Summary
      9. Key Terms
      10. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      11. Critical Thinking Exercises
      12. Building Your Personal Brand
      13. What Do Marketers Do?
      14. Closing Company Case
      15. References
    8. 15 The Promotion Mix: Personal Selling and Sales Promotion
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 15.1 Personal Selling and Its Role in the Promotion Mix
      3. 15.2 Classifications of Salespeople Involved in Personal Selling
      4. 15.3 Steps in the Personal Selling Process
      5. 15.4 Management of the Sales Force
      6. 15.5 Sales Promotion and Its Role in the Promotion Mix
      7. 15.6 Main Types of Sales Promotion
      8. 15.7 Ethical Issues in Personal Selling and Sales Promotion
      9. Chapter Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      12. Critical Thinking Exercises
      13. Building Your Personal Brand
      14. What Do Marketers Do?
      15. Closing Company Case
      16. References
    9. 16 Direct, Online, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 16.1 Traditional Direct Marketing
      3. 16.2 Social Media and Mobile Marketing
      4. 16.3 Metrics Used to Evaluate the Success of Online Marketing
      5. 16.4 Ethical Issues in Digital Marketing and Social Media
      6. Chapter Summary
      7. Key Terms
      8. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      9. Critical Thinking Exercises
      10. Building Your Personal Brand
      11. What Do Marketers Do?
      12. Closing Company Case
      13. References
    10. 17 Distribution: Delivering Customer Value
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 17.1 The Use and Value of Marketing Channels
      3. 17.2 Types of Marketing Channels
      4. 17.3 Factors Influencing Channel Choice
      5. 17.4 Managing the Distribution Channel
      6. 17.5 The Supply Chain and Its Functions
      7. 17.6 Logistics and Its Functions
      8. 17.7 Ethical Issues in Supply Chain Management
      9. Chapter Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      12. Critical Thinking Exercises
      13. Building Your Personal Brand
      14. What Do Marketers Do?
      15. Marketing Plan Exercise
      16. Closing Company Case
      17. References
    11. 18 Retailing and Wholesaling
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 18.1 Retailing and the Role of Retailers in the Distribution Channel
      3. 18.2 Major Types of Retailers
      4. 18.3 Retailing Strategy Decisions
      5. 18.4 Recent Trends in Retailing
      6. 18.5 Wholesaling
      7. 18.6 Recent Trends in Wholesaling
      8. 18.7 Ethical Issues in Retailing and Wholesaling
      9. Chapter Summary
      10. Key Terms
      11. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      12. Critical Thinking Exercises
      13. Building Your Personal Brand
      14. What Do Marketers Do?
      15. Marketing Plan Exercise
      16. Closing Company Case
      17. References
    12. 19 Sustainable Marketing: The New Paradigm
      1. In the Spotlight
      2. 19.1 Sustainable Marketing
      3. 19.2 Traditional Marketing versus Sustainable Marketing
      4. 19.3 The Benefits of Sustainable Marketing
      5. 19.4 Sustainable Marketing Principles
      6. 19.5 Purpose-Driven Marketing
      7. Chapter Summary
      8. Key Terms
      9. Applied Marketing Knowledge: Discussion Questions
      10. Critical Thinking Exercises
      11. Building Your Personal Brand
      12. References
  5. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
    17. Chapter 17
    18. Chapter 18
    19. Chapter 19
  6. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • 1 Discuss ethical implications of target market selection.
  • 2 Provide an example of a company that displays ethics in target marketing.

Ethical Implications of Target Market Selection

To understand unethical target marketing, let’s first review the notion of ethics in this realm. Ethics is the systematic study of morality—what people commonly refer to as “morals.” The American Marketing Association (AMA) has a clear Statement of Ethics, and marketers are expected to conform to this ethical code. Before examining the issue of ethical target marketing, let’s first review the general notion of ethics as it applies to marketing and other business disciplines.

Individuals and organizations choose to act morally—or immorally—when faced with a moral dilemma. The decision of whether to behave in a moral way or an immoral one has serious implications for oneself, for other individuals, and for society as a whole. The bottom line is that morally responsible, ethical marketers both sympathize with and empathize with consumers and their legitimate needs and wants. However, there are moral issues in terms of who is targeted and with what purpose. To illustrate these points, let’s review some examples of target marketing tactics that can reasonably be construed to be immoral or unethical.

Ethnic and Racial Profiling

Earlier in this chapter, we used the example of a firm advertising woodworking equipment in specialty magazines rather than general interest magazines in order to stretch its limited advertising dollars. Do-it-yourselfers, amateur woodworkers, or hobbyists would be considered an affinity audience to the firm—that group of potential customers who have interests or hobbies in common. That’s the positive aspect of target marketing.

However, there’s a negative aspect to targeting affinity audiences as well. Over the past few years, Facebook has been criticized for potential discrimination on its ad platform by excluding users who have been classified into certain racial or ethnic affinity groups. As a matter of fact, Facebook was sued by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development because its algorithms allowed advertisers to purposely target their ads by race, gender, and religion, potentially violating federal laws that prevent discrimination in ads for jobs, housing, and credit.75

Facebook’s algorithm and machine learning allowed advertisers to purposely target their ads by race, gender, and religion. In itself, trying to reach an affinity audience through advertising isn’t illegal. The problem comes in because Facebook’s platform allowed advertisers to exclude users based on that algorithm. For example, with Facebook’s “ethnic affinity” marketing product, the company has the ability to exclude users by race or ethnicity.76

Children and Teens

According to Statista, there are approximately 73 million children in the United States between the ages of 0 and 17.77 That’s a huge target market that can be extraordinarily lucrative for a marketer. Accordingly, it makes sense to target this demographic because of its potential value.

However, there are inherent ethical issues involved in marketing to children, including distinguishing intent, gender stereotypes, violence, and obesity. Let’s first consider distinguishing intent. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), children under the age of 7 or 8 can’t discern the “persuasive intent” of advertising. In other words, they don’t realize that the marketing message is made to sell something to them. Instead, children tend to accept the content at face value and believe that it’s true, accurate, fair, and unbiased. This lack of distinguishing intent can potentially exploit children because it takes advantage of their inability to make sound, calculated decisions about a product or service based on the available information.78

Now let’s consider gender stereotypes. At approximately age 2, children become conscious of the physical differences between boys and girls, and according to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), gender-stereotyped messages can interfere with that process. Consider the number of gender-stereotyped toys on the market today (or go to the toy section of any big-box store). For example, there are approximately 40,000 Disney Princess items on the market today, typically aimed at girls, whereas toys like Transformers are typically marketed to boys.79

Violence is still another ethical issue to consider. Research indicates that more than half of TV shows and even some commercials (particularly those for video games) contain violence, and the concern is that watching violence may desensitize youth to it and may even suggest to youngsters that violence is an effective way to settle conflicts.80

Another ethical issue is childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has “more than tripled since the 1970s,” and it’s estimated that one in five school-aged children is obese.81 Yet watch the commercials on children’s TV shows, and you’ll find that they are almost completely dominated by unhealthy food products like candy, sugary cereal, and snacks. To their credit, some forward-thinking companies have made it a practice not to advertise to children under 12 because of the association with childhood obesity. For instance, according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Brach’s, Lemonhead, Ghirardelli, Jelly Belly, PEEPS, Mike and Ike, and Welch’s Fruit Snacks avoid advertising to children under 12.82

Let’s examine still another societal problem—vaping. According to recent studies, approximately four million students admit to vaping, an increase of over two million users. One of the major players in the industry is Juul, which has been criticized for targeting adolescents with colorful packaging; flavors like mint, crème, and mango; and a USB flash drive design that made the product small and easy to conceal in a backpack, pocket, or even a hoodie.83 The problem has become so pervasive with young people that, in June of 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration was poised to issue an order removing Juul Labs vaping products from the market.84

Marketing to the Elderly

Older adults are also often exploited by target marketers. Older adults often have fixed incomes along with health problems, and this has made them a poplar target for products that give “assurances” of good health and affordability. The most common instances of bad ethics involve prescription drug targeting. Misleading statements about product efficacy are rampant, whether it’s for a prominent drug manufacturer or a company that markets “natural” or “organic” products. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen this problem emerge in full force, with many brands touting a “cure-all” to alleviate the virus. The bottom line is that elderly audiences may make questionable purchasing decisions if they believe their health may be at risk as a result of not taking action.85

Low-Income Targeting

Low-income earners tend to be more susceptible to ads that promise a better way of life, such as high APR (annual percentage rate) credit cards and multilevel marketing schemes. Targeting low-income audiences can pose a threat to their safety and ultimately have dire legal ramifications.86

Low-income earners can also be wrongfully excluded from the market if companies curtail or fail to enable consumption of products because they “assume” the consumers cannot afford the product(s) at the specified price.

Companies with a Conscience

Subway

A submarine sandwich with lunchmeat, cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and onions is on a table.
Figure 5.15 There are numerous ways to target markets, and Subway has chosen what many would call an ethical strategy because it focuses on offering families healthy options, unlike some of its competitors. (credit: “Mmm... Sammich” by jeffreyw/flickr, CC BY 2.0)

We’ve just read about some of the ways that children are targeted in negative or unhealthy ways, so let’s take a look at one company that tried to get it right, Subway (see Figure 5.15).

Back in 2014, Subway aligned itself with then–First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. The company vowed to spend $41 million over a three-year period to promote a healthy-eating program aimed specifically toward children. The ad campaign bore the slogan “Playtime: Powered by Veggies.”

But Subway didn’t stop there. The company also teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a nonprofit organization that works with the private sector to help advance the goals of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.

Suzanne Greco, vice president of operations for Subway, stated, “From a sign on each restaurant’s door that says ‘Playtime Powered by Veggies’ to a video collaboration with Disney’s The Muppets, [Subway] will build upon our ongoing efforts to create better choices for families.”87

Watch this video on the partnership between Subway and the Let’s Move! initiative.

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