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Ethics of Target Marketing: Process, Product or Target?
Unformatted Document Text:  2 Furthermore, it could be argued that target marketing provides desired products to publics that have traditionally had fewer choices. For example, advertisements for English language classes targeted towards immigrants are providing this consumer group with valuable information that they may not have been as aware of before. Nevertheless, some target marketing, such as targeting alcohol and cigarettes to minority groups, has raised ethical questions. Research Question This paper will identify aspects of target marketing that are ethically questionable, including the method of persuasion, the nature of the product and the target. Differences among marketing, advertising, and public relations will be discussed to determine whether one of these communication tools produces more potential ethical dilemmas than the others. In addition, the role of the product will be analyzed, paying special attention to sin products such as alcohol and cigarettes, to conclude whether the nature of the product affects determinations of whether target marketing is unethical. Finally, the perceived vulnerability of the target audience will be discussed to determine if it is more ethically questionable to market products to certain audiences. All three of these components--the method of persuasion, nature of the product, and the target-- will be evaluated individually as well as an aggregate, and conclusions will be drawn to determine which aspect or aspects are most salient for ethical evaluations of target marketing. Limited research has discussed the role of the product vs. the target in ethical evaluations of target marketing (Ringold, 1995; Smith et al, 1997) and has indicated that

Authors: Fisher, Brooke A..
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2
Furthermore, it could be argued that target marketing provides desired products to publics
that have traditionally had fewer choices. For example, advertisements for English
language classes targeted towards immigrants are providing this consumer group with
valuable information that they may not have been as aware of before. Nevertheless, some
target marketing, such as targeting alcohol and cigarettes to minority groups, has raised
ethical questions.
Research Question
This paper will identify aspects of target marketing that are ethically questionable,
including the method of persuasion, the nature of the product and the target. Differences
among marketing, advertising, and public relations will be discussed to determine
whether one of these communication tools produces more potential ethical dilemmas than
the others. In addition, the role of the product will be analyzed, paying special attention
to sin products such as alcohol and cigarettes, to
conclude whether the nature of the
product affects determinations of whether target marketing is unethical. Finally, the
perceived vulnerability of the target audience will be discussed to determine if it is more
ethically questionable to market products to certain audiences. All three of these
components--the method of persuasion, nature of the product, and the target-- will be
evaluated individually as well as an aggregate, and conclusions will be drawn to
determine which aspect or aspects are most salient for ethical evaluations of target
marketing.
Limited research has discussed the role of the product vs. the target in ethical
evaluations of target marketing (Ringold, 1995; Smith et al, 1997) and has indicated that


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