How it works
Advertising is a method to gain attention and target customers to sell products. This is also known as targeting. Not all companies follow the ethical rules to reach out to consumers. Many businesses use manipulation and deception to achieve their sales goals. Ironically, some consumers trust the business to look out for not only their interest but also their full knowledge of the product to ensure their satisfaction and even their safety. What we fail to see is that consumers are a part of the problem by not being knowledgeable about the products they buy. It is ethical to target uninformed consumers.
People may think targeting uninformed customers is just unethical as selling fast food is considered unethical by some people. “If it’s harmful, then it should be unethical”. But is it the business’s fault or is the customer the one to blame? A Harvard study shows that well-informed customers tend to choose store-brand products instead of national – more expensive – ones. Being well informed as a client not only helps you save money but also leads you to choose better, healthier options. People are just as able to research the products they buy just as much as businesses can deceive them.
How it works
Unless it is stated by some sort of law, it is not the brand’s duty to advertise the reality behind their product. Most people don’t seem to want to buy reality. Propaganda focuses on that: selling the good parts of the product. Coca-Cola does not fly off the shelves for having the amount of sugar it takes to make it taste like that, but because it promises you and your family happiness and a great tasty experience. It is in the hands of the customer to seek information. Nowadays, it is everywhere. All of the media, especially the internet, will give you everything you need to know about what you’re curious about.
Let us say you choose to buy a certain car. You can ask the salesperson at the dealer’s for information and they will give it to you. You may ask people who own that car for information and they will give it to you. You may look it up online and you will find the information right there. There are many resources around you to get more information about the car but you choose to do none. All of a sudden, you have a car without the functions you wanted. The fuel consumption is high, maintenance is expensive, repairing it after a minor crash costs a fortune… As much as you may be tempted to blame the manufacturer, you have to admit you have not been deceived. It was your choice not to go after the information out there.
As customers, we hope markets lookout for all of our needs. They don’t use any harmful ingredients, don’t charge high prices, and specify any risks to them. But unfortunately, businesses have needs also, and that is money. They will sprinkle a few lies to sell their products. A lot has changed for the better and companies do have a responsibility for their clients, rules to follow so that they won’t harm us too much. Their goal, however, is still to profit. That hasn’t changed. It is up to us to choose to who we give our money, which brand is worthy of it and why. It is the ethical thing to do: research and then decides.