What is Ethical Marketing?

Marketing is important for any business to use, and a great skill to have to ensure you get hired. However, there are boundaries that are crossed each day that blur moral and ethical lines. It’s best to use ethical marketing so that your message doesn’t come across as sketchy or shady. The Business Dictionary defines ethical marketing as “basic principles and values that govern the business practices of those engaged in promoting products.” In this day and age of internet marketing, transparency is king; the marketers who reveal their practices and results see more results because they are more trusted. But even with all of this info, the question remains: what exactly encompasses ethical marketing?

Business and Ethical Marketing

It is up to business to make a decision whether or not to employ marketing practices that are morally right. While techniques can be brought in that show results, these techniques might end up cheating consumers; for instance, if the effects of a product are grossly exagerrated, or if the claims are patently false. A classic example is the infamous “Head-On” commercial, which stated repeatedly, “Head On: Apply directly to the forehead!” While the commercial was viewed in a negative light, it never made any claims as to what the product did – it simply stated instructions. However, it seemed to imply that it treated pain, and customers who bought the item were disappointed as it had nothing more than a placebo effect.

Why businesses need ethical marketing

If a customer can come into your place of business, purchase an item, and go home knowing exactly what it does and what to expect, then that is ethical marketing. When consumers can trust your product or your service to do exactly one thing without any surprises, they are more likely to buy it. High pressure sales techniques are a thing of the past, relegated to an equally chaotic political era. Now people desire transparency and honesty in the businesses that they frequent, most often in an attempt to build a better future.

How to obtain a marketing degree

Most schools offer marketing and advertising degrees, and almost all universities conduct classes based around ethical practices and what is necessary to ensure your advertisements and marketing schemes are not shady. However, despite any schooling, ethical marketing requires a strong moral compass and critical thinking skills to decide whether a technique is appropriate or not.


All in all, ethical marketing is easier said than done. Time honored traditions in the marketing world that feature high pressure sales techniques are no longer as effective as they once were, but are often still used to train new marketers. With the age of the internet, consumers are demanding different standards than they have before, and it is up to the new age of marketers and advertisers to match those standards. However, for those companies that succeed, success will follow. People would rather shop at a location they can trust to be honest and forthcoming than a company that spans continents and whose ethics are ambiguous, and this is great news for small businesses.