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Ethics of Target Marketing: Process, Product or Target?
Unformatted Document Text:  Ethics of Target Marketing: Process, Product or Target? Introduction How many individuals would argue that marketing blond-enhancing shampoo to white women is unethical? What about marketing vitamin supplements to the elderly or video games to adolescents? How about targeting Blacks or Hispanics with scholarship funds sponsored by cigarette companies? Segmenting audiences into groups that can be targeted with specific messages is a core principle of marketing. According to Ringold (1995), “Targeting is the intentional pursuit of exchange with a specific group through advertising or other marketing activities. Targeted marketing activities are designed and executed to be more appealing to the target market than to people in other segments” (p. 580). Advertisers and public relations practitioners disseminate thousands of targeted messages every day—a commercial or a campaign would not be effective if it were not geared towards a specific audience. However, while this practice is well known and often encouraged, it raises several ethical dilemmas. Naturally, not all target marketing is unethical. In fact, it could be argued that target marketing aims to maximize choices and enhance consumer welfare. For example, advertisers that target Hispanics with phone cards know that this consumer group makes more long distance calls than any other group in the U.S. By targeting Hispanics, companies like AT&T and Sprint are trying to meet this population's needs, while gaining a profit as well. Therefore, while it is true that the purpose of marketing is to generate revenue, this goal is not mutually exclusive with meeting consumers’ needs.

Authors: Fisher, Brooke A..
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Ethics of Target Marketing: Process, Product or Target?
Introduction
How many individuals would argue that marketing blond-enhancing shampoo to
white women is unethical? What about marketing vitamin supplements to the elderly or
video games to adolescents? How about targeting Blacks or Hispanics with scholarship
funds sponsored by cigarette companies?
Segmenting audiences into groups that can be targeted with specific messages is a
core principle of marketing. According to Ringold (1995), “Targeting is the intentional
pursuit of exchange with a specific group through advertising or other marketing
activities. Targeted marketing activities are designed and executed to be more appealing
to the target market than to people in other segments” (p. 580). Advertisers and public
relations practitioners disseminate thousands of targeted messages every day—a
commercial or a campaign would not be effective if it were not geared towards a specific
audience. However, while this practice is well known and often encouraged, it raises
several ethical dilemmas.
Naturally, not all target marketing is unethical. In fact, it could be argued that
target marketing aims to maximize choices and enhance consumer welfare. For example,
advertisers that target Hispanics with phone cards know that this consumer group makes
more long distance calls than any other group in the U.S. By targeting Hispanics,
companies like AT&T and Sprint are trying to meet this population's needs, while gaining
a profit as well. Therefore, while it is true that the purpose of marketing is to generate
revenue, this goal is not mutually exclusive with meeting consumers’ needs.


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