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Behind the Curtains of Businesses: An Expert’s Warning towards Unethical Marketing
Written by Minso Kim | Published. 2022.01.12 17:21 | Count : 536

[Zoom interview with Ms. Choi. Screenshot by Minso Kim]

It is widely known that marketing is a vital and inseparable strategy for businesses; however, excessive greed for profit can lead to unethical marketing techniques that deceive and ultimately manipulate consumers.

Ellen Choi, a former consumer analyst at Capital Group, unveiled the marketing tactics and strategies that lay under the surface of businesses at a zoom interview, satisfying the curiosity about the factors and consequences of unethical marketing.

Listed below are the interview questions answered during the zoom interview.

Q: What are specific tactics and techniques businesses use to engage in unethical marketing?

A: There are various ways businesses can utilize unethical marketing tactics. One method, especially used widely in the fashion industry, is intentionally excluding a specific group of consumers. For example, many fashion brands rule out overweight consumers by emphasizing the beauty of being fit and  promoting small-sized products. 

Also, many businesses entice consumers with misleading information and illustrations in marketing advertisements. This is a  widely used tactic called ‘fluffing information’, which overly emphasizes the advantages and hides the disadvantages. It is vastly used, as it is not uncommon to see reviews expressing anger towards the huge differences between actual products and uploaded photos. 

A specific technique that businesses use is the “bait and switch” technique. In this technique, businesses will go to great lengths to lure potential consumers into their shop, increasing the possibility of making a purchase. This is done by advertising a product so enticing to consumers that they decide to visit the shop.

However, when the consumers come to purchase the item, they will be informed that it is no longer available. Instead, another less appealing yet satisfactory product will be introduced and a significant number of consumers will end up purchasing it.

Although this is not an honest tactic, it does increase the chance of the business boosting sales. Other than these, many  other unethical strategies that result in unnecessary consumption and a waste of resources.

Q: What would be the reason for these unethical marketing decisions?

A: Businesses engage in such deceiving methods because it yields great short-term benefits. By making the product look more desirable, businesses increase sales with less money invested in quality, increasing profit markedly.

Q: Would unethical marketing always yield higher profit and tremendous business success?

A: No, this strategy only works in the short term. As a consequence of these tactics, businesses can easily lose consumer trust from exaggerated product information emphasizing advantages. For example, many consumers feel uneasy buying fashion products online because of concerns that the product would differ from the pictures listed on the platform.

Loss of trust and bad reputation formed based on accumulated consumer reviews will reverse the effects over the longer term. Also, workers working in ethical companies have greater productivity and pride in their work and are less likely to leave their job. So overall, as the saying goes “you reap what you sow,”, a sound conscience and a warm heart are the hidden factors of success in any business.

A man once said that a business without marketing is like blinking in the dark. Simply put, no one will see or know the fact that you blinked in the first place. The importance of marketing has been emphasized for years, as the saying “stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time” shows.

Although marketing is vital for the survival and success of businesses in the world of stiff competition, unethical marketing can be a bomb yielding devastating effects for both businesses and consumers. Therefore, as Ms. Choi mentioned at the end of the interview, balancing short-term profit and long-term business reputation is crucial in marketing decisions.









Minso Kim

Grade 9

The American School In Japan


Minso Kim  hsr@dherald.com

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