BlogMarketing PsychologyMarketing ethics: Persuasion vs. Manipulation

Marketing ethics: Persuasion vs. Manipulation


What is Marketing Ethics?

Standards of marketing ethical conduct guide companies in their efforts to do “the right thing” Ethical marketing describes marketing in which companies set high ethical standards and communicate these positively.

Marketers need to take responsibility for the effects of your company’s activities and make sure any marketing decisions and actions satisfy and meet the needs of your customers’ needs and the more significant needs of society.

Ethical conflicts occur when contrasting viewpoints differ between your company, your customers, and your society. The tobacco industry is often presented as a hypothetical example of ethical conflict. Cigarette marketing has provided lucrative business for tobacco companies.

guy smiling

Ethical persuasion in marketing includes activities that promote fairness, social responsibility, empathy, and honesty by respecting ethical standards. It is a philosophy backed by a strategy that is integral to the company and its customers alike. Organizations deliberately apply different sets of ethical rights and fairness standards when marketing their products and services, practices — and behaviors — in their general structure.

These organizations can then gain a competitive edge to satisfy a more extensive set of customers and their needs. Therefore, ethical marketing practices focused on ways the products could help users and how they fulfilled social responsibility and handled different ethical issues.

Why is marketing ethics important?

90% of millennials will prefer brands with an ethical business ethic. Most marketers think they see ethical marketing as outperforming other market players who follow ethics. The adopted guidelines and rules pave the way for a morally healthy and organized roadmap that everyone can follow. These sometimes overlap with media ethics because they are closely linked in terms of definition and functioning.

Here are key reasons that make marketing ethics necessary:

Building a loyal customer base

With consistent ethical behavior implemented in marketing campaigns, the company may gain the commitment and trust of its customers, which can help it a long way in the future.

buissnes values

Increasing brand credibility

When an organization keeps its promises about services and products regularly, it develops an authentic and genuine brand in customers’ minds. This isn’t simply for consumers; ethical marketing can also help you earn respect from investors, peers, competitors, stakeholders, and others.

Long term value increase

Businesses that employ good marketing ethics may use prospects with high credibility, loyalty to customers, massive market share, improved brand value, higher sales, and more significant revenue.

If you want to know how to persuade ethically check out our article.

Unethical marketing practices

When it comes to ethics in marketing, there are two main dangers – deception and manipulation. The deception can manifest in the form of dishonest behavior, omission, or misleading factual material. For example, deceptive marketing practices can cause customers to believe the cost of their unit of value in a product is lower than it truly is.

Promotion practice is misleading when the seller intentionally misstates how a product is constructed or performs and fails to disclose pyramid sales information. Deception is also defined as sales of defective products without revealing the danger.

Deception has also been deemed a violation of the warranty for a false or highly exaggerated product. For example, service claims are also deceptive if the package is deliberately mislabeled regarding the content weight, size, or uses.

Often, children are a vital target for marketing specific products. Ethical questions emerge when one has seen questionable marketing methods and messages. Federal regulations limit how children are depicted, and activities involving marketers are monitored by the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and TV networks.

The research linking tobacco and alcohol marketing with children led to increasing public pressure, directly leading to marketing for these products. Once that occurs, there is probable social pressure which may lead to regulatory changes. Consequently, television programming for children and adolescents on mass media has come under increased scrutiny.

If you want to learn more read our article about emotional marketing.

Examples of ethical marketing

Here are some prominent examples of ethical marketing practices:

Dr. Bronner’s

Dr. Bronners is a company founded by Emanuel Bronner, a third-generation master soapmaker. It is known for its all-natural and organic soap. As the company states, their ingredients are plant-based and from regenerative organic agriculture.

They also highlight the need to reduce resources and recycling, building equitable supply chains, and treating employees like family. Dr. Bronner’s has long displayed its social activism through branding, and it has done so in a thoughtful manner.

The brand effectively roots its identity in social activism by encouraging shared interests among its customers. By fostering common likes with its consumers, Dr. Bronner’s has built trust with a large client base – and it continues to earn loyalty through the promotion of shared values.


The famous shoe company created a product with a very recognizable style and built a recognizable marketing strategy. In addition, they created a program where they donated one pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair purchased. The company has donated over 100 million pairs of shoes since 2006.

Now they pledge 1/3 of profits to grassroots causes, helping individuals build equity at the local level while also promoting advancements from the bottom up. This practice is called cause-related marketing because behind each sale stands a good cause.

They also state that their products are made from sustainable and eco-friendly materials.

pair of shoes


Patagonia has a self-imposed Earth tax, 1% for the Planet, providing environmental nonprofit organizations support. They also engage their customers that can volunteer their skills to help fight ecological issues.

With their marketing campaign called “Don’t buy this jacket” launched on Black Friday, they addressed the issue of consumerism and fast fashion. They used the provocative headline to make people think before they buy.

clothing logo


The marketing ethics article discusses marketing ethics, what marketing ethics is, how persuasion differs from manipulation, and examples of ethical marketing. In addition, the article highlights the idea that it is essential to be aware of marketing tactics concerning how they are being used in the marketing environment.

Make sure to check out our other articles to learn more about marketing psychology.


Professional B2B copywriter with an SEO background. Zuza is obsessed with great-quality content that ranks on the first page of search engines.

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