Unethical Marketing: Dannon Case Study
Even the largest and most recognized brands in the world sometimes use unethical marketing to attract consumers. For example, Dannon used false claims in advertising for their Activia yogurt (Jurbeg, 2020). The company claims that it improves the immune system and digestion, which is proven based on clinical and scientific evidence. This strategy was chosen in order to increase the price of the product by 30% compared to competitors’ yogurts (Jurbeg, 2020). However, this statement proved to be false, and no clinical evidence existed for the claims presented. This episode led to numerous lawsuits against the company, which cost it a total of about $56 million (Jurbeg, 2020). Thus, false claims were used by Dannon to exaggerate the advantages of its product.
This strategy did not work, since buyers, from their own experience of consuming the product, were able to detect the falsehood of the marketing statements quickly. Dannon has not provided any open data on clinical and scientific trials of its yogurt to prove its beneficial properties. As a result, consumers expected a certain effect, which they acquired for the increased price. In reality, they were getting regular yogurt at a higher price, which means Dannon unreasonably overpriced it. Moreover, the company has tricked consumers into promising health benefits that have not been proven and guaranteed.
As part of the application of ethics in marketing, it is important for a company to avoid making claims that cannot be proven. Dannon should have used more general wording and underlined that their yogurt could improve immunity and digestion. Thus, they would absolve themselves of responsibility for the lack of effect since it would not be guaranteed. Consumers, in this case, would not be deceived since they would pay for the likelihood of a positive impact. Moreover, the topic of health and the influence of food on it is associated with a certain degree of responsibility. The company should also have moved away from labeling beneficial health effects and used the potential cosmetic properties of yogurt.
Jurberg, A. (2020). 8 of the most costly marketing scandals. Better Marketing. Web.