What is the Importance of Marketing Ethics?

Marketing Ethics: Definition and Role

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 and the standards laid out guide organizations to do "the right thing." These standards are instrumental in identifying acceptable practices, fostering internal control, and dealing honestly and fairly with customers. They also ensure that the businesses have complete compliance with the law. Companies can at times develop and publish their own ethical standards, but in most cases, they comply with the regulations or guidelines of their industry associations.

Marketing ethics help create a framework for good practice in marketing, regardless of the product or market sector.

  • Some of the key pointers that marketers need to keep in mind are -

  • Customers should be convinced that the products and services are safe and fit for their intended use.

  • Products and service communications should not be deceptive.

  • Contracts should be drawn up in good faith and should be honored.

  • There must be appropriate processes for equitable adjustment and/or redress of any grievances that the customers might have about their purchases.

  • Companies should respect consumer rights including the right to information, the right to privacy, and the right to redress.

  • There must be emphasis on safeguarding the rights and interests of vulnerable groups such children and the elderly.

Importance of Marketing Ethics

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 −

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.

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.

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.

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. Here are some common principles of ethical marketing -


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 −

  • Suppliers − 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.

  • Pricing − 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.

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

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

  • Customer satisfaction − 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.

Health and Safety

The physical safety of customers is one of the top priorities for ethical businesses and marketing teams. Marketers can uphold this principle by educating, protecting the privacy of, and respecting the civil and human rights of consumers. It is also beneficial when they focus on supporting the physical safety and mental health of employees. They may do this by offering health and wellness benefits and programs.


Part of ethical marketing includes adhering and complying with all governmental and environmental regulations and industry standards. This communicates to the consumers that a business is serious about developing excellent quality and services.

It also protects the liability and interests of a business, enabling it to remain in operation.

For example, a denim brand that uses less water to manufacture their products will have more acceptance as compared to a brand notorious for causing environmental damages.

Conscious practices

Companies may decide to engage in conscious practices to protect communities and the environment. Popular conscious practices include fair trade and wages and environmentally sustainable processes.

Personal Behaviour

Part of marketing ethics is ensuring that all marketing team members abide by high standards of personal ethics. While these standards are subjective, companies often set strict requirements for their employees about respecting the rights of others. Ethical team members can practice empathy and honesty in relationships with customers.


Though market ethics is recommended, there are certain issues in marketing ethics as well.

For example, it is important for a new crackers brand to market their product. So, they may market it by stating that their product is baked and not fried.

Now here comes the catch: on one hand they are marketing a product that is not great for the health, and on the other they’re being honest about their product. In such cases, perhaps the judgement of the consumers will be the deciding factor.

Updated on: 22-Jun-2022

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