Marketing Ethics and Social Responsibility
Previewing the Concepts: Chapter Objectives
Identify the major social criticisms of marketing.
, and explain how they affect
Describe the principles of socially responsible marketing.
Explain the role of ethics in marketing.
There have been many criticisms of marketing as it impacts individual consumers, other
businesses, and society as a whole. This chapter discusses them in detail and provides
some responses to critics.
Surveys usually show that consumers hold mixed or even slightly unfavorable attitudes
toward marketing practices. Consumers, consumer advocates, government agencies, and
other critics have accused marketing of harming consumers through high prices,
deceptive practices, high-pressure selling, shoddy or unsafe products, planned
obsolescence, and poor service to disadvantaged consumers. Companies respond in many
ways, noting that the practices that cause so-called high prices—advertising, using
intermediaries, decorative packaging, and the like—are necessary and well liked by
consumers. Companies also note that those who use deceptive practices and high-
pressure selling, or produce shoddy products, will not remain in business long.
Critics also charge that the American marketing system has added to several “evils” in
society at large. Advertising has been a special target; it is charged that it urges too much
interest in material possessions. However, our wants and values are influenced not only
by marketers, but also by family, peer groups, religion, ethnic background, and education.
If Americans are materialistic, these values arose out of basic socialization processes that
go much deeper than business and mass media could produce alone.
Consumerism is an organized movement of citizens and government agencies to improve
the rights and powers of buyers in relation to sellers. Consumers not only have the right
but also the responsibility to protect themselves instead of leaving this function to
Environmentalism is an organized movement of concerned citizens, businesses, and
government agencies to protect and improve people’s living environments.