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Ethics of Target Marketing: Process, Product or Target?
Unformatted Document Text:  17 All of these results indicate that exposure to marketing leads to increased consumption of alcohol and cigarettes among children and adolescents. Thus, it would appear that children are vulnerable consumers because marketing creates a desire to consume sin products. It would be hard to effectively argue that marketers are meeting adolescents’ need to smoke or consume alcohol as these products are not necessary for development (and indeed may retard development). Therefore, it can be concluded that marketing unhealthy products towards children is unethical because they are vulnerable consumers. However, it should be noted that limited research has indicated that youth may not be as vulnerable as we think. Slater et al. (1997) found that adolescents are twice as likely to criticize persuasive appeals in beer advertisements as in nonbeer advertisements. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that children are not as mature as adults and by nature are more vulnerable because they are in the process of creating their identities and finding their values. Furthermore, as much research has indicated that marketing leads to increase consumption of alcohol and cigarettes among children and adolescents, ethical concerns can legitimately be raised in regards to the question of the vulnerability of this population. The second area that researchers have focused on in regards to consumer vulnerability and sin products is minorities. Unlike the research on children, research in this area has failed to identify a causal link between target marketing of sin products and consumption among minorities. Instead, the majority of research has focused on documenting target marketing cases. Many researchers have indicated that target marketing has created a clearly segmented market for minorities. Gittelsohn et al (1999) found that teenage cigarette

Authors: Fisher, Brooke A..
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17
All of these results indicate that exposure to marketing leads to increased
consumption of alcohol and cigarettes among children and adolescents. Thus, it would
appear that children are vulnerable consumers because marketing creates a desire to
consume sin products. It would be hard to effectively argue that marketers are meeting
adolescents’ need to smoke or consume alcohol as these products are not necessary for
development (and indeed may retard development).
Therefore, it can be concluded that marketing unhealthy products towards children
is unethical because they are vulnerable consumers. However, it should be noted that
limited research has indicated that youth may not be as vulnerable as we think. Slater et
al. (1997) found that adolescents are twice as likely to criticize persuasive appeals in beer
advertisements as in nonbeer advertisements. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that
children are not as mature as adults and by nature are more vulnerable because they are in
the process of creating their identities and finding their values. Furthermore, as much
research has indicated that marketing leads to increase consumption of alcohol and
cigarettes among children and adolescents, ethical concerns can legitimately be raised in
regards to the question of the vulnerability of this population.
The second area that researchers have focused on in regards to consumer
vulnerability and sin products is minorities. Unlike the research on children, research in
this area has failed to identify a causal link between target marketing of sin products and
consumption among minorities. Instead, the majority of research has focused on
documenting target marketing cases.
Many researchers have indicated that target marketing has created a clearly
segmented market for minorities. Gittelsohn et al (1999) found that teenage cigarette


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