5 years ago

Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

necessary or harmful

necessary or harmful products, inducing them to acquire products or services they do not need and whose merits they are unable to judge. Equally unethical are practices that exclude specific customer groups on unjustifiable grounds, like race, ethnics, religious beliefs or looks. As regards products, in addition to product and brand copies as well as items that do not benefit consumers, hazardous products threatening consumersí health and physical integrity are marketed by deceitfully overrating their actual attributes. The environmental impact of products and packagings is another source of increasing concern. These behaviors reflect a lack of fair-play, with practitioners compromising their personal values against business goals. Pricing also involves some complex issues, including the application of different schemes for customers with similar conditions or higher prices on the grounds of unreal superiority. Deceptive pricing practices also include product bundling or overpricing to offer generous discounts. The use of predatory pricing practices is also questionable ñ so much so that it is forbidden in many markets. As regards communications, advertising raises other questions. With the use of powerful media, consumers can be misled, and campaigns that jeopardize societyís fabric by showcasing stereotypes or harmful behaviors can be effectively launched. Visual pollution as a result of indiscriminately cluttering streets and outdoor areas with massive billboards and ads everywhere brings additional community concerns. It is not only the surrounding architecture and aesthetic appreciation that are threatened: drivers are unduly and dangerously distracted while driving on highways. Furthermore, research has shown that people not only devise mechanisms to ignore invasive advertising but are also irritated by it and compelled to reject it ñ yet another questionable practice ultimately backfiring. Flyers handed out to pedestrians end up littering sidewalks and trampled by their in- tended recipients ñ an outcome that casts some doubts on the use of this tool. Other selling techniques involving pressure, threats or deceit also bring ethical dilemmas, as well as doubtful commissions, gifts and covert outlays. Dishonesty, lying and misrepresentations about product features and service scope are hard to justify. Some direct marketing practices are harshly criticized as well, including collect calls to mobile phones that are both costly and intruding, or the pressure exerted by timeshare sellers. Distribution management practices also come into question when channels are discriminated against or excluded, or when promotions change competitive conditions. Franchising can become abusive if sup- Pricing involves some complex issues, including the application of different schemes for customers with similar conditions or higher prices on the grounds of unreal superiority port services are not provided or terms are perceived to be unfair. Market research may also lead to controversial practices, disguising researchers as shoppers, masking sales with surveys, or breaching confidentiality agreements. Indeed, the unauthorized use of customer information, the collection of confidential data on competitors and the utilization of deceitful means to acquire them, all account for unscrupulous practices. Information management has become a complex issue as a result of data and statistical tampering and counterfeiting, both inside companies and in their communications to consumers and markets. Consumer Rights Faced with this scenario, consumers have rights that they cannot give up. But the question remains: How can consumers fully exercise their rights, choosing freely their purchases and ensuring that the products they buy The Human Side of Business and Marketing are not hazardous for either themselves or the environment? To do so, they require truthful, honest information to make responsible decisions. If anything goes wrong in the process, they should be able to complain to someone just as responsible, capable of delivering a satisfactory response to their demands. In modern societies, with deregulated economies and transactions, all market participants should be able to exercise their rights equitably, but it should also be noted that not all concurring parties enjoy similar conditions, and so their individual responsibilities are different. Economic activity is meant to provide for individualsí physical and psychological wellbeing, serving society at large. When this happens, consumers reward companies with their purchases; conversely, when businesses fail to deliver on their obligations, a few may benefit to the detriment of a much larger customer group. To prevent that, it is necessary to actively safeguard society from some of the undesired effects of consumerism. Caveat Venditor (Vendor Beware) This principle assumes that sellers ñ and not buyers ñ are the experts on the products sold. Marketers build their entire operations around their products, while buyers view products as part of their multiple needs and purchases. Therefore, experts should be the ones to ensure that purchase decisions are properly made, minimizing error risks. If mistakes did occur, sellers should own up to them ñ even if they were not at fault. The rationale underlying this notion argues that sellers should watch over their customers first and sales next, as satisfied customers will drive busi- SEPTEMBER 2009 56 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE


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