Target Marketing – An Unethical Practice
Regardless of the type of industry, adopting ethical practices on all fronts, whether it is designing, manufacturing or marketing is at the core of its success. In today’s age of online shopping and digital marketing, numerous brands have popped up with a variety of similar products flooding the consumer market. In such a scenario where the markets are saturated with competitive products, each company seems to be in a race to thrive and achieve their sale numbers irrespective of the way it is accomplished. Although marketing strategies evidenced in research can be helpful for educating the uninformed consumer and in guiding companies to adopt ethical means of approaching its target market, however this is not always practiced.
To boost their sale numbers, companies adopt deceptive marketing strategies, exploiting the vulnerability of the uninformed customers and misleading them through distorted information about the products. Promoting potentially harmful products and selling low quality stuff at higher prices to a group that is unaware are examples of unethical target marketing (Rittenberg and Parthasarathy). Similarly, targeting a group of consumers such as minors who are unable to make their own decision is also a wrongful practice (Stephenson). Since minors do not possess the skill to make an informed choice and are only attracted towards the incentives given such as a toy in the cereal box or colorful mascots of a company, their inclination to get their parents to buy a product is mostly due to manipulative target marketers (Rittenberg and Parthasarathy). Another possible victim of unethical target marketing are the people belonging to countries with low literacy rates; an example of this is the case of farmers who might purchase fertilizers and pesticides with no information of its potential harm (Paypervids).
Companies should learn the difference between brand building and spamming and avoid sending unsolicited emails and messages to the consumers. Advertising products through pop-up adds and auto-playing media is not only annoying but also may be approached by an unsuitable audience. Therefore, it is important that companies adopt strategies that are ethical rather than trying to lead the numbers race.
Paypervids. Exploitative ethical issues in target marketing. 2021.
Rittenberg, Terri and Madhavan Parthasarathy. “Ethical implications of target market selection.” Journal of Macromarketing 17.2 (1997): 49-65.
Stephenson, James. Is target marketing ethical? 2010. <https://ezinearticles.com/?Is-Target-Marketing-Ethical?&id=1333342>.