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3 Tutorials that teach Ethics and Marketing
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Ethics and Marketing

Ethics and Marketing

Author: James Howard
Description:

This lesson introduces the ethics of marketing.

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Tutorial

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Hello, and welcome to this tutorial on Ethics and Marketing. Now, as always with these tutorials, please feel free to fast forward, pause, or rewind as many times as you need in order to get the most out of the time you're going to spend here. So let me ask you a question-- what is ethical marketing? Have you ever heard the term "Snake oil salesman"? These people who sold this product, these liniments that supposedly cured everything in the world, but was really just usually whiskey.

Not very ethical, is it? Well, in this lesson, what we're going to be talking about is a business's responsibility to ethics and branding. We're also to look at social responsibility and marketing. The key terms for this lesson are going to be obstructionist stance, defensive stance, accommodative stance, and proactive stance. So let's begin with businesses' responsibility. Well businesses have a responsibility to be ethical in their marketing practices to their stakeholders or customers, their employees, suppliers, the local community, and their investors.

They can't go around saying that products do things they don't want to do or simply outright lying. Doing so hurts the business and in doing so hurts those stakeholders. They also have a responsibility to the environment, and how it impacts the environment as a whole. Damaging the environment or permanently damaging the environment around the business can have far-reaching effects not only on investors and employees in the business itself, but also the local community in which that business lives. Being a bad neighbor is never a good idea.

Businesses also have a responsibility to the consumer. However, not everyone's going to be pro-social responsibility. And you can make an argument that a business' sole responsibility or its primary responsibility is to make money, which in turn employees people. That gives business to suppliers, it returns on investors, and it generally brings money into the local economy-- so these are all good things. And it's the government's responsibility to set safe guidelines, that's the argument.

So you see can look at this in two different ways-- businesses have responsibility to the stakeholders, the environment, and the customer. Or one can simply say the business has a responsibility to themselves. And these benefits that the stakeholders, and the environment, and the customers get are simply by-products of the business looking out for itself. Now applying social responsibility to marketing as it relates to business-- businesses basically have four choices, four stances.

And we've seen these before. They can be obstructionists, they can be defensive, they can be accommodative, or they can be proactive. So let's take a look at each one of these in turn. Now the obstructionist stance. Now this is an approach to social responsibility in which the organization actively tries to avoid, slow, or stop social responsibility. And you'll notice as we go through these that each time we go to a different stance, the constraints on marketing for a business are going to lessen.

For instance, companies with an obstructionist stance will have the most amount of constraints as far as what they can do as far as marketing is concerned. An example of this might be that example we used earlier, the company called Enron. Enron marketed itself as an honest company. They actually told their employees to buy their stock to fund their retirement plans. They sold their products in a way that was honest and straightforward, and the entire time they're working behind the stakeholders, the customers, and the environment's back to make sure that their only goal was making money for the owners.

Now a defensive stance, that's up next. And this is an approach to social responsibility in which the organization will fight allegations of social irresponsibility. One might think of the tobacco companies in this particular instance. Tobacco companies will market their product as cool, or hip, or something that the tough guys do. Does anyone remember the Marlboro Man? Well, the entire time what they're going to be doing is saying, well, you know cigarettes really aren't that addictive. Or, you know, the jury's kind of still out on how much of a part cigarettes play on lung cancer, and things like that.

So they're fighting those allegations of being socially irresponsible by marketing their product. Accommodative stance is an approach to social responsibility in which the organization goes beyond the minimal standards of social responsibility, but does not necessarily seek to make major changes. Walmart might be seen as an example of someone who takes an accommodative stance for marketing as it pertains to social responsibility. They're going to tell you things that are honest, they're going to give you a right price.

They're not going to purposely mislead you, but they're not going to go out of their way in order to make major changes on the social responsibility scene. Now lastly, is the proactive stance. Now this is the one, as you remember, with the least amount of constraints placed on a business as far as marketing their products are concerned. This is an approach to social responsibility in which the organization goes beyond the minimal standards of social responsibility, by actively anticipating future needs.

For instance, people who make biodegradable packaging. What they're doing is they're marketing this thing as a solution not only to today's issues of social responsibility, but they're also looking long-term. How will this impact society as a whole in the future? One might be able to say this also for solar manufacturers and people like that. So did we learn in this lesson? Well, we looked at businesses' responsibility to be ethical and socially responsible in their marketing.

We also looked at social responsibility as it applies to marketing and those four stances that a business can take-- the obstructionist stance, the defensive stance, the accommodative stance, and lastly the proactive stance. As always, I want to thank you for spending some time with me today. I hope you had a good time, and I'll see you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Defensive Stance

    An approach to social responsibility in which the organization will fight any allegations of social irresponsibility.

  • Accommodative Stance

    An approach to social responsibility in which the organization goes beyond the minimal standards of social responsibility but does not necessary seek to make major changes.

  • Proactive Stance

    An approach to social responsibility in which the organization goes beyond the minimal standards of social responsibility by actively anticipating future issues.

  • Obstructionist Stance

    An approach to social responsibility in which the organization actively tries to avoid, slow, or stop social responsibility.