Ethical issues in marketing

Market Research:

  • Unauthorised use of personal data
  • Intrusive questions
  • Coercion
  • Deception around purpose/use of research
  • Causing embarrassment/hindrance/offence

Target Marketing:

  • Vulnerable consumers
  • Marketing to children
  • Customer exclusion (poor, racial & ethnic minorities, older consumers)


  • Kotler’s classification of products (e.g. Deficient products or Immediately satisfying products with negative long-term effects)
  • Product safety
  • Packaging issues
  • Planned obsolescence
  • Emotional appeals in branding


  • Anti-competitive pricing (predatory pricing, price fixing)
  • Price discrimination between consumers
  • Price deception (hidden costs)
  • Artificial promotions/sales
  • Price gouging (exceptionally high prices due to demand)


  • Untruthful advertising
  • Artificial endorsements
  • Misleading comparisons
  • Advertorials
  • Product placements
  • Reinforcing negative stereotypes
  • Unauthorised direct mail
  • Prizes with strings attached
  • Intrusiveness

Distribution (Place):

  • Channel stuffing
  • Bribes/gifts
  • Price fixing
  • Allowances/limits

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