Marketing And Consumer Protection : Importance, Problems And Issues


Marketing Ethics can be defined as the set of guidelines and the area of applied ethics that act as a guiding light behind the scope of marketing. Some of the areas of marketing ethics overlap with the ethics of media as they both are co-related.


Marketing ethics is important because it helps a business to support the rights and lives of consumers. This subject is an integral part of many marketing team conversations, planning meetings and strategies.

Practicing ethical marketing allows businesses to reach the following goals:

1. PROTECT WELL-BEING OF CUSTOMERS − Ethical marketing often involves informing customers about the risks of specific products and services and protecting the physical and mental health of everyone. This goal is especially important for organizations that sell products with potential side effects or dangers.

For example, the statutory warnings on cigarette packets or alcohol bottles are a part of marketing ethics safeguarding the well-being of customers.

2. SUPPORT WELL-BEING OF EMPLOYEES − While many marketers focus their ethical strategies on customers, it is also important for them to support the well-being of their own employees. This may include offering adequate compensation against the labour they put in and offering reasonable work schedules besides ensuring there is a proper work-life balance.

As a revers example, we can look at the allegations brought against a number of Chinese firms for exploiting their workforce and denying basic workers’ rights.

3. ACT AS A ROLE MODEL FOR OTHER BUSINESSES − By practicing ethical marketing, companies can foster a good reputation, build a positive work culture for employees and consumers, and encourage other businesses to practice ethical marketing.

4. ATTRACT AND MAINTAIN CUSTOMERS − Adhering to ethical marketing methods and caring for the quality and value of goods can be an effective form of advertising and can also help build a sense of trust with the customers. This can then help companies to attract and maintain customers, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and generate essential revenue for the organization.

Ethical marketing guidelines can vary based on a company's purpose, mission, and preferences.



One of the most important components of ethical marketing is the idea of honesty in marketing communications. It is important for business leaders and marketers to communicate the truth about a company's products and services in order to protect the health, well-being, and rights of consumers.

For example, the FSSAI requires food product manufacturing companies to include a "Nutrition Facts" label on products that provides a detailed list of a food's ingredients and nutrient content. This ensures that consumers have full knowledge of what they may eat or drink.


Besides honesty, transparency in marketing ethics is crucial for disclosing the details behind company processes and behaviour. It refers to the process of having open and honest discussions about ethics. Being upfront and straightforward about company history, current practices and future goals can help to keep an organization accountable to its customers and stakeholders. While there is sometimes proprietary or private information to keep confidential, there can be many factors of a business to share with audiences.

For example, a biscuit manufacturing company may publish content about their manufacturing processes, but they do NOT have any compulsion to reveal the content or formula for their products. It is also crucial for businesses to be transparent about the following elements of their products and services −


Being transparent about who and what the company pays and supports can help consumers gain a full understanding of the organization's partners and networks.


In order to gain customers and build trust, it's usually necessary for businesses to be transparent about pricing, pricing strategies and any extra fees that may exist in a transaction. It must not be forgotten that customers are always comparing the price points.


Expressing the level of quality of a good to audiences can help consumers to have realistic expectations of the value of their purchases.


A component of transparency is being truthful and detailed about the various features and elements of a company's products or services.


Companies may use real reviews or other evidence from actual customers to build credibility and practice transparency regarding customer satisfaction. This is why many brands ask their customers to leave feedback either on their stores or on their websites/social handles.



Some marketers take the easy way out. To sell more and hasten revenue production, they push products to multiple markets without proper research.

They're hoping to stumble upon a willing market by pushing their products to as many people as possible. This is a wasteful tactic, and it could also end up halting your progress and destroying your reputation. Products are not products; they are solutions. Focus on the solution,not the sale.

Your products are someone's solution, and it's your job to find out who that someone is. Suppose you heavily advertise and push your products on people who have no need for them or lack the problem your product solves. In that case, you risk damaging your reputation with unhappy consumers and customers. Keep a customer-oriented attitude and avoid clamoring for the sale.

Half-truths are still half-lies

Be careful not to fall into manipulating your market with a half-truth just to gain the sale. Half-truths are not the truth, and false promises can come back to bite you in the end.

Modern consumers are savvy.

If your product is not a fit for a market, it's not a fit, period. Avoid manipulating messaging and copy to fit your target's needs better without improving your product. Your product must always match your message if you want to remain ethical. This should be a priority over sales.


We talked about the danger of blanket selling to disinterested markets. Making assumptions about a target market can be just as disastrous.

It’s good to focus on a target market instead of trying to appeal to everyone. However, if you're relying on data from your own hunches and assumptions about that market, you still risk damaging your reputation and wasting marketing spend. Modern marketing starts with data and ends with incredible consumer experiences that breed loyal customers.


Are you targeting a specific market or a stereotype? Without enough market research, it's challenging to remove personal bias and assumptions before targeting a demographic. Even so you should avoid any campaigns or messaging that can potentially cross the line between demographic and stereotype.

The stereotypical woman cooking in the kitchen while the man works every day and acts as the home “handyman” puts genders in stereotypes. So, this messaging does not work anymore. Gender, race, and age can be sensitive topics if not handled correctly.

Your consumers are not afraid to call you out in public and let you (and all of their followers) know. Therefore, modern marketing must escape those stereotypes and become more fluid in its approach. When you dive deep into market research, talk to your customers to learn how they think and study how your competitors promote similar products. This feedback will challenge your stereotypical assumptions so you can avoid coming across as shallow to your market and instead speak to their deep needs.


Privacy issues have come to the forefront in the last decade as consumers become wary of company practices that track their behavior and capture their personal information. Yet, as marketers, we require this data to understand our market's interests and needs and to produce products they love and want.

The privacy line is an easy one to cross, which is why transparency in marketing is critical for brands to practice. Most consumers are aware that brands collect information on them, but that doesn't exclude the need for transparency. Consumers want to know how and what data you will collect, and they should be fully aware of your practices.

Include this information in your privacy policy and make it visible on your website. Many companies also add messaging about using cookies. Some even go as far as to add popups that require visitors to consent to the website using cookies before they can browse the site.

Overstock displays a message about cookies at the bottom of its website Be aware of privacy differences among industries too. 

For example, the legal and medical sectors will have stricter privacy laws than others. Privacy laws change rapidly as well. Stay updated on your industry and speak to a legal professional if you need assistance.


Misleading marketing can refer to everything from inconsistent and misleading messaging and promotions to making untrue claims about the quality of your products. 

For example, it's misleading to launch a 50%-off holiday sale but increase your pricing by 50% to offset the discount. It's also misleading to promote a sale first to your loyal customers that only lasts for three days. But then, because the sale performed so well, to offer the same deal the following weekend to customers who aren't part of your loyalty program. 

As marketers, it's also challenging to publish promotional messaging without turning away prospects from your brand. Many consumers recognize advertising techniques, and they know when brands are promoting their products. But overt advertising is outdated. Use consumer awareness to massage your ad copy so that it speaks to your audience's needs (mentions benefits, reviews, value, attributes) instead of relying on in-your-face advertising (coercive copy that lacks empathy). Modern ethical marketers use consumer awareness to their advantage. They exercise transparency and never mislead consumers. Remember that business success is not always about the sale. Ethics in marketing promotes trust and relationship-building. These two attributes will grow businesses faster than any three-day promotion ever will.


Whether you're unknowingly misusing consumer data or manipulating it for your own gain, both are unethical practices in marketing. If you're not tech-savvy, you might not be aware of how you (or third parties) are misusing your customer data. The issue is that the fallout from these practices will affect your business, not the guilty party. 

Your customers will fault you for not being aware of what was going on. Ensure your website and the data you collect are safe and kept private from third Parties. Consult with an expert if necessary to ensure your customer data is safe from being manipulated and sold to other parties.


  1. Velasquez , M.G. : Business Ethics
  2. R.C. : Ethical Choices in Business