Legal, Ethical and Social Responsibility, Essay Example

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Essay

When large corporations make choices on how to market themselves, it can be a risky proposition. After all, corporations have to stay aware of public opinion, and one bad decision or media story can cost them their reputation. As marketers of professional businesses, it is the role and responsibility of the marketer to properly steward the marketing effort in a manner that maintains high legal, social and ethical standards. They are the experts in this area, so they must ensure that the company is protected from improperly poor standards that could lead to public embarrassments.

Marketing is a primary tool that a company uses in order to influence public perception, so it is critical that marketing protects the company from a negative reputation. When a marketer performs their responsibilities of proper ethical, legal and social behavior, they do not violate the trust of consumers. This also is critical to a company, as if that trust is violated consumers will stop believing in what a company promotes or tries to communicate. As cited in the text, there are many social criticisms of marketing that include deceptive practices, high prices, high-pressure selling, unsafe products, planned obsolescence, and poor service to the disadvantaged. The text goes on to describe how there is a concern that marketing affects society as a whole by creating too much materialism, overselling goods, and constant exposure to marketing messages.

There are many real dangers to a company that does not hold up high standards, especially in this age of sustainable marketing. Videos become viral and communication is nearly instantaneous. It is far too easy for a bad story to get out, and negative publicity can cost a company dearly in lost sales and confidence. Marketers need to be aware of potential conflicts with consumer actions to promote sustainable marketing. As cited in the text, the two major movements by consumers within this area include Consumerism, which is an organized movement with government agencies to improve consumer rights and powers. In addition, there is the Environmental movement, where consumers push for protection and improvement in people’s living environment.

Good corporations will exercise smart practices as it relates to legal, ethical and social standards, as this is proven to be the most successful approach to a long term growth strategy. In addition, they will find effective ways to market through their marketing professionals. As cited in the text, businesses should make marketing decisions from the consumer’s point of view. Through development of corporate marketing ethics policies and real business decisions of improving products, a company should define its mission in broad societal terms that are not product specific.

It is fortunate that there are many companies that serve as good examples not only of maintaining properly high standards, but also being effective at marketing them. One such company is Starbucks, which represents a truly global company of over 17,000 locations in 55 different countries. Through their practice and promotion of their fair trade policies where 12% of coffee purchases are made with smaller farmers in developing countries that struggle to compete against larger providers, Starbucks exhibits social responsibility and benefits from positive publicity. As cited in the text, global companies face unique marketing challenges, but in this instance the concern of fair trade is one that most of the world shares, which is a factor in how effective it has been as a marketing tool.

Another company, Pepsico, has improved its track record at practicing sustainable marketing policies. Starting approximately five years ago, the company realized that a different marketing approach was necessary in order to improve its image with consumers. To that end, Pepsico began donating significant amounts of money to charities such as an African clean water initiative. This charity was chosen in part to address societal concerns about the practices of selling bottled water. Another activity that was widely marketed by the company was their decision to cease marketing tactics directed at kids for soda products. This decision was made to address concerns about deficiencies in children’s nutrition, as well as child obesity.

Whole Foods can largely be considered an early adopter of sustainable marketing practices generated by their belief in maintaining high ethical, legal and social standards. Through their policy of salary fairness to their employees, they can tout that differences in pay between executives and lower level workers are much more proportionate compared to the vast majority of corporations. From a consumer standpoint, Whole Foods has widely marketed organic fruits and vegetables, promoting small independent farmers, environmentally safe practices such as using natural fertilizers, and lack of energy waste associated with chemical production and use.

A fourth example of a company that shows strong ethical, legal and social responsibility would by Ford Motor Company. Historically maligned by an older, poor reputation of social responsibility from the infamous Ford Pinto that was brought to national attention by Ralph Nader, the company learned and recovered. Now, the modern image of Ford that has been effectively marketed focuses on environmentally safe practices such as their development of hybrid car technology, which reduces car emissions and leads to less smog. Ford has introduced two hybrid models and three more are on the way, positioning Ford as a leader within this planet-friendly field.

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