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Ethics of Target Marketing: Process, Product or Target?
Unformatted Document Text:  23 findings that consumer vulnerability may be more related to socio-economic status than race, gender, or age needs further validation through experimental or survey research In this paper, it has been concluded that it is a combination of the process, the product and the target that can make a marketing plan unethical. If a product does not cause harm then it never will be considered unethical to market it. However, if a product can cause harm, then the target marketing of this product may be considered unethical solely based upon the nature of item being marketed. Similarly, if a population is considered vulnerable, then any marketing campaign targeted towards this population can initiate an ethical evaluation in order to determine if harm is being caused to a more susceptible target. Targeting harmful products to vulnerable populations may be considered more unethical than targeting the same products to nonvulnerable populations. Once any ethical evaluation is initiated, however, the process, product and target must be considered as an aggregate. The next step is to determine where the ethical decision-making process starts and who is responsible for evaluating target marketing. Should the advertiser or public relations practitioner, the agency conducting the campaign, or the corporation producing the product be held responsible? Or, is it the government’s or the public’s responsibility to monitor marketing campaigns? Sources of guidance must be identified to provide insight into ethical decision-making criteria. Professional guidelines, such as the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) code, may provide limited direction. The AMA’s code, similar to other professional codes, follows classical philosophy by stating that the basic rule of professional ethics is to not knowingly due harm. Although this mandate has helped this paper analyze what components of target marketing are

Authors: Fisher, Brooke A..
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findings that consumer vulnerability may be more related to socio-economic status than
race, gender, or age needs further validation through experimental or survey research
In this paper, it has been concluded that it is a combination of the process, the
product and the target that can make a marketing plan unethical. If a product does not
cause harm then it never will be considered unethical to market it. However, if a product
can cause harm, then the target marketing of this product may be considered unethical
solely based upon the nature of item being marketed. Similarly, if a population is
considered vulnerable, then any marketing campaign targeted towards this population can
initiate an ethical evaluation in order to determine if harm is being caused to a more
susceptible target. Targeting harmful products to vulnerable populations may be
considered more unethical than targeting the same products to nonvulnerable populations.
Once any ethical evaluation is initiated, however, the process, product and target must be
considered as an aggregate.
The next step is to determine where the ethical decision-making process starts and
who is responsible for evaluating target marketing. Should the advertiser or public
relations practitioner, the agency conducting the campaign, or the corporation producing
the product be held responsible? Or, is it the government’s or the public’s responsibility
to monitor marketing campaigns? Sources of guidance must be identified to provide
insight into ethical decision-making criteria. Professional guidelines, such as the
American Marketing Association’s (AMA) code, may provide limited direction. The
AMA’s code, similar to other professional codes, follows classical philosophy by stating
that the basic rule of professional ethics is to not knowingly due harm. Although this
mandate has helped this paper analyze what components of target marketing are


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