Marketing is an activity that directly influences the public perception of the company and its image. Therefore, besides increasing sales, marketers should be concerned with whether or not their decision will adversely affect the company’s image. When these professionals decide to use dishonesty to mislead consumers, the company’s reputation may be spoiled eventually. In terms of ethics, targeting uninformed consumers only because they are not capable of making sound decisions regarding the company’s product is unacceptable.
Fundamentally, lying and dishonesty are unethical acts, despite lacking sufficient attention in the field of ethics. Barber (2019) indicates that the notion of dishonest speech has been neglected in theoretical ethics. However, a lie destroys the essence of testimony, which means an expression becomes ethically invalid to be used when a falsehood or dishonesty is introduced in it (Barber, 2019). When a marketer targets an uninformed consumer, a case can be ethical only if the customer is approached with honesty. In this context, honesty means providing the consumer with all available information so they can make an informed decision. However, in this competitive business world, companies rarely share all the intricacies regarding their product because such information may repel potential buyers. Therefore, targeting uninformed customers should be considered unethical and inappropriate.
It is common sense that fraud is an unethical activity because it involves misleading and disinformation. The primary objective of fraud is to yield benefits at the expense of someone else’s lack of knowledge. In this context, fraud and targeting uninformed consumers are similar – customers that do not have all information are not able to make objective decisions. Therefore, using uninformed customers as a marketing target is unethical.
Barber, A. (2019). Lying, misleading, and dishonesty. The Journal of Ethics, 24, 141-164. Web.