Elevating Business Practices: A Journey into Ethical Marketing Excellence
In the contemporary landscape, discussions about ethical marketing have become ubiquitous, emerging as a prevailing trend across diverse platforms. Brands that strategically embrace environmentally friendly production processes or allocate profits to philanthropic causes have adeptly recognized a crucial truth: in a bustling marketplace, consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that differentiate themselves by making a positive impact.
But what exactly constitutes ethical marketing, and more specifically, how does Enhance—the creative and conscious MarCom agency—define it? Let's delve into this concept.
The Conventional Definition
Ethical marketing can be seen as a specialized niche within the marketing domain, where promotional actions aim to foster socially responsible solutions benefiting society in both the short and long term. A concise definition encapsulates ethical marketing as a process through which companies cultivate customer interest in products/services, build robust customer relationships, and generate value for all stakeholders. This involves integrating social and environmental considerations into products and promotions across all facets of marketing, from sales techniques to business communication and development.1
Curious about real-world exemplars? Delving into the realm of brands excelling in ethical marketing practices, we find noteworthy leaders shaping the landscape. TOMS, the renowned footwear brand, stands out for its impactful outreach projects and corporate giving initiatives. EVERLANE, a fashion brand, distinguishes itself through radical transparency in production costs and manufacturing processes. PATAGONIA, the adventure-wear powerhouse, adheres to a mantra of “building the best product, causing no unnecessary harm, and leveraging business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”2.
Diverse Ethical Orientations
These trailblazing brands exhibit various ethical orientations, encompassing active participation in philanthropic initiatives, a commitment to transparent communication, the adoption of health-conscious manufacturing processes, engagement in societal or environmental initiatives, and encouragement for businesses to contribute positively to society and the environment, aligning with legally defined goals.
Revamping Ethical Marketing at Enhance
At Enhance, our commitment to ethical marketing extends beyond conventional boundaries. In shaping our approach, we redefine ethical marketing not only by considering the traditional definition but also by embracing Robert F. Lauterborn’s 4 Cs classification in marketing—a customer-centric evolution of the traditional 4 Ps marketing model. This adaptation urges marketers to empathetically view things from the customer’s perspective, posing the crucial question: “What does the customer need to hear?”
Stripping away philosophical or moral debates, ethical marketing at Enhance is fundamentally grounded in prioritizing customers and audiences. This mindset demands the discipline to craft marketing actions that genuinely add value for customers and audiences, all while mindful of sustainable business goals.
With this guiding principle, Enhance revisits each element of the traditional marketing mix, meticulously sculpting an ethical version for each aspect. Whether it pertains to social media, web creation, branding, or corporate communication, Enhance provides a framework of ethical and conscious guidelines for executing Marketing Communication (MarCom). Our goal is to deliver business results while respecting the precious time and attention of consumers and audiences.
Crafting Conscious Guidelines: A Strategic Approach
Marketing, essentially a form of communication, is imbued to sell, whereas communication itself involves disseminating information to external sources. In this context, ethical communication emerges as the act of responsibly transmitting accurate information to the world. Consequently, ethical marketing becomes a means of providing conscious incentives to encourage the purchase of products or services by consumers.
Given that marketing materials inherently create incentives for audiences to make purchases, it becomes imperative to scrutinize the field of advertising to comprehend the parameters of ethical ads. Notably, the work of Nwachukwu et al. introduces three pivotal variables to address this concern: individual autonomy, consumer sovereignty, and the harmfulness of products.
Consequently, the endeavor to develop innovative and conscious actions within Marketing Communication (MarCom) begins by strategically selecting scientifically based variables. This approach facilitates the extraction of tailor-made criteria, laying the foundation to create new guidelines for MarCom actions and strategies. By intertwining scientific rigor with strategic insights, businesses can navigate the complex landscape of ethical marketing, fostering transparency and responsibility in their communication efforts.
Advancing Ethical Business: An Inclusive Model
Ethical practices can permeate various layers of a business, mirroring the comprehensive integration seen in exemplary models like Toms or Everlane. From the foundational business model and manufacturing processes to pricing strategies, ethical actions form the bedrock of their operations. However, must businesses committed to the ethical journey embark on developing a complete ethical brand to instill healthy practices within their organization? The answer is a resounding no.
Ethical implementations can be strategically woven into the fabric of various business dimensions, extending from the foundational core elements to the conspicuous attributes that reside atop the metaphorical iceberg (refer to the integrative ethical model below). These dimensions encompass Business, which includes the business model and development; Technology, which involves technical implementations and product development; and Creative, encompassing all activities related to Marketing Communication and branding.
Insisting on every brand adopting full ethical branding simply because it’s deemed the “right thing” would be neither fair nor realistic. Each brand has the autonomy to carve its own path. Yet, it’s essential to recognize that every brand can take incremental steps toward ethical implementations within their business. For instance, engaging in conscious marketing and communication actions that respect customers and audiences serves as a practical starting point. These steps are more accessible than a complete overhaul to establish an entirely ethical business model.
While it’s crucial not to mislead customers into assuming every brand is entirely ethical, such conscious actions provide assurance to consumers. Interacting with a brand that prioritizes respect for their time and attention by delivering value-laden MarCom content becomes a positive and impactful experience. The focus should be on progress, acknowledging that even small strides contribute to a more ethically conscious business landscape.