Blog/Content marketing
25 January 2023
8 min read

Ethical marketing: how companies can have a conscience

Are conscious consumers swayed more by core ethics principles or marketing communications when shopping for a brand? The answer may surprise you! A recent survey suggests that over 80% of shoppers consider sustainability necessary for brands. And 70% of consumers are ready to pay 5% more for products from a company that has a fully sustainable supply chain.

Since people consider ethical brands more trustworthy, they are set to be the ultimate winners in the market. However, many companies still lack ethical marketing practices. With the right strategy, there's a huge possibility for these companies to acquire more customers and drive sales. 

With the rise of ethical issues and conscious consumerism, understanding how ethical marketing can influence customer loyalty and bottom-line success is more important than ever. 

Let's get to know the ins and outs of this tricky topic!

What is ethical marketing, exactly?

To know what ethical marketing is, you must first have a clear idea about ethics. Although ethics are the difference between something right or wrong, this topic is much more complex than this. The concept of 'right' and 'wrong' varies from person to person, country to country. 

However, some things, like cheating, are always wrong, no matter the difference of opinions. It's the same for marketing activities; there are some basic principles of ethical marketing that they are bound to follow, no matter what the business is.

Marketing ethics are the moral principles that act as a guideline for all kinds of companies. At its core, ethical marketing is about respect. Respect for customers, respect for the environment, and respect for society. 

It requires companies to be honest and transparent. It means being truthful in advertising, not making false claims, or taking advantage of customers' emotions. You cannot use manipulative language or make promises you can't keep. Practicing sustainability means being open and accountable to customers and society.

Also, ethical marketing means taking a long view. It's about building trust, creating relationships, and investing in the future. It can also change public attitudes towards different services and goods.

So, it's crucial to practice ethical behavior in all stages; otherwise, the market will lose customers.

Traditional also becomes successful, but ethical marketing is the ultimate winner because it cares about the consumers, workers, and the environment. 

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The four principles of ethical marketing

The four principles are like the four directions in a compass, providing businesses with a clear guide to help them make the right decisions. They ensure that companies abide by ethical standards while they pursue their marketing activities. 

So what are these four principles? Let's take a closer look.

Equity

Equity or fairness in business practices is very crucial, and there should be fairness in all decision-making steps. For example, companies must commit to providing better wages, fair prices, and sustainable materials.

Honesty

Honesty is the foundation of any ethical behavior, including ethical marketing. 

Companies that use honest and transparent communication with their customers, and provide authentic and unflattering information about their services and products, are more prevalent in the market. It's because everyone hates misleading information.

Responsibility

Every business must fulfill its obligation to its customers. The responsibilities include:

  • Providing reliable services and products.
  • Treating employees with respect.
  • Supporting social values.
  • Respecting the communities.
  • Protecting the environment with sustainable practices.

Transparency

Transparency is similar to honesty but has different applications in businesses. A transparent company won't run shady practices and will keep its operations open to the public. 

By this principle, everyone can assess if the company is responsible for its actions and how its products affect the environment.

Essential characteristics of ethical marketing

Ethical marketing is super important for any business or organization. But what makes them important? Let's get to know some key factors.

Customer loyalty

When companies have loyal customers, they can easily estimate the units of sold products. And ethical marketing can help with earning that trust and loyalty. Usually, people who trust a brand recommend it to their family and friends. 

And people also count more on recommendations from their near ones instead of advertisements or promotions. 

A company putting efforts into gaining customer loyalty will make it more authentic to general people. It also positively affects brand perception, which can help attract new customers and lead to more word-of-mouth referrals.

Long-term gains

Every company strives to expand its business and dominate the market for the foreseeable future. And ethical marketing can aid brands in achieving long-term gains. 

When a brand authentically communicates its business values and mission, customers are more likely to trust it and return for future purchases. As a result, it can increase brand loyalty, resulting in more recurring customers, higher customer retention rates, and an overall boost in sales. 

Ultimately, ethical marketing is essential for long-term business success. 

Improved credibility

Ethical marketing is essential for businesses that want to build credibility and trust with their target audiences. It communicates a set of values, helping to create an authentic and positive brand identity. 

Through providing fact-based communication and honest feedback, ethical marketing can help to build long-term relationships with customers. It also helps to develop a reputation for having high standards and a commitment to transparency.

Advanced leadership qualities

A credible company practicing ethical marketing strategies for a long time becomes a role model for all other companies. Not only do they become a model, but their policy, practices, function, and structures become a benchmark for all brands.

Other companies can get higher sales, more shares in the market, and more benefits by following the leaders.

Rich cultural display

When a brand pursues ethical marketing practices, it positively impacts customers and company staff. Also, when seen from the outside, the structure of that company showcases a positive outlook. 

A whopping 64% of customers are willing to purchase from businesses with a purpose. So, people will be more interested when they see a company nurturing a rich culture. 

Customer satisfaction

When a company follows ethical marketing policies, it provides better customer service. So, the brand can easily meet the customers' basic needs and requirements, leading to higher customer satisfaction.

Brand value enhancement

With all the positive impacts of ethical marketing, a company's brand value ascends swiftly. Not only does it ensure that a business behaves appropriately and responsibly, but it also helps to build trust between customers and the brand. In turn, this trust enhances the brand's value and makes it more attractive to potential customers. 

Additionally, these marketing tactics help businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors and become more recognizable in their industry. As customers become more aware of the importance of ethical practices, they will likely choose a brand they can trust over one with questionable values.

Attracting right talent

When businesses enhance and build their brand value, they become a paragon in job seekers' eyes. The right approach to ethical marketing promotes a culture of respect that draws in skilled and talented people. 

The characteristics of unethical marketing

Unethical marketing refers to immoral or improper strategies according to society, communities, or laws. Let's see some dodgy practices to understand why marketing ethics are crucial.

Puffery

Puffing up the products or services to attract more customers, like "it's the best tasting juice in the world." This type of claim can't be confirmed objectively, so it's just a bluff, and that's not ethical at all.

Exaggeration

Many companies exaggerate their advertising, like "get things delivered in 24 hours anywhere." It will be an exaggeration if the company fails to keep up the promise.

Surrogate advertising

Surrogate advertising is the proxy ads for forbidden items. For example, many regions have laws against alcohol advertisements. It will be unethical if a company promotes its alcoholic products with indirect advertising in those places.

Unverified claims

It would be unethical for a company to claim its products have benefits that are not scientifically proven. For example, many beauty products claim to make your skin brighter and healthier but don't have any solid base or proof. However, companies still advertise them anyway.

False comparisons

Sometimes brands compare their services or products with other brands and claim to offer better things. However, most of the time, their comparisons are just false claims.

Children in advertising

In most cases, using children in advertising isn't ethical since it can exploit their innocence. But many businesses still use them in negative advertising, which can drive away sensible people.

Stereotyping women

Many businesses degrade or stereotype women in their advertisements. However, people are more conscious these days, and such practices will draw huge backlash in social media.

Developing an ethical marketing strategy

Companies experiencing slow sales can evaluate their past and current marketing strategies to discover the problem. Developing the right tactics can boost their businesses if they are yet to test the ethical marketing water. 

Need help in crafting the perfect marketing strategy for your business? Try our B2B writing service for better results. 

Let's see the steps for strategy development usually taken by marketing professionals.

  1. Analysis of the business carefully
  2. Planning advertising campaigns in an ethical way
  3. Balancing company interest with social responsibility

Few examples of ethical marketing

Let's see some well-known international brands for their ethical marketing policies. It'll help you understand this term better and assess how you can implement the strategies in your business.

TOMS

Argentine company TOMS is a top example of an ethical company. This brand doesn't just sell shoes but also donates millions to charities all over the world.

Credit: One More Cup Of Coffee

Not just with the shoes, the brand also helps in many other projects, including clean water usage in the coffee industry. It donates a portion of every sale it makes. 

This brand helps needy people while keeping its customers satisfied. Its business decisions and policies are always transparent, so potential customers don't feel any communication gap.

Patagonia

The fashion industry is highly criticized for shady practices and harmful environmental effects on a large scale. Patagonia is determined to change that perception. It's one of the few fashion brands that have adopted green strategies in all steps to stop climate change.

Credit: Business Insider

When all companies ask you to buy products, this brand asks you not to buy from them! It says to reduce consumption, repair, reuse, and recycle more. This company makes impressive revenue while also ensuring its environmental and social responsibility.

Pela Case

The gadget industry produces a lot of plastic waste. Pela Case is one of the sustainable brands offering 100% composable phone cases to change this industry.

Credit: Word Tracker

This brand shares all its materials, carbon footprint, and manufacturing data with the public. Such transparency will prompt people to trust the company without hesitation. 

The company also donates to environmental organizations and participates in educational campaigns to raise awareness about reducing carbon footprints and plastic pollution. Through its business model, Pela Case is winning over alert customers and producing much revenue while positively changing the environment.

YES Straws

People use 500 million plastic straws every day in the United States alone! That's pollution on a grand scale. Yes Straws decides to step up to let people enjoy slurping without any guilt.

Credit: Pinterest

This brand's mission is to reduce plastic consumption to stop environmental pollution. So, it provides biodegradable straws made with natural wheat and cane stems.

Not only does it help in reducing plastics, but it also doesn't use harmful chemicals like other plastic industries. It has almost zero-waste production as recycled waste because the wheat straws are biodegradable. 

Also, this brand is raising awareness through ad campaigns and articles about all the harmful effects of plastic pollution. More customers are getting interested in their product, so the business revenue is increasing.

Conclusion

Ethical marketing is not only the right thing for companies but can also benefit their bottom line. Brands that genuinely believe in moral values and stand by them will inspire consumer confidence, attract more customers, and build trust, resulting in increased profits.

However, many businesses don't know how ethical marketing works or how to plan and implement new marketing strategies.

If you still need clarification about this term, hire advisors to help with business decisions. Also, our professional copywriters can help. They can write excellent advertisement copy to show that your brand sticks to its words and is honest about the policies. 

We will communicate the ethical implications of your decisions to your customer base and use tools and strategies to ensure your actions align with your brand's core values.

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