Ethics: Marketing and Target Market Selection Essay

Submitted By kseo85
Words: 865
Pages: 4

Companies face the challenge of developing target market selection strategies in an ethical manner. While some may debate the need for such ethical analysis, a market-directed economic system, as conceptualized by Adam Smith and his contemporaries, does not give completely free reign to self-interest; it requires a coexistent ethical system (Dixon 1982). As Robin and Reidenbach (1987) suggest in their discussion of integrating ethical' and socially responsible dimensions into strategic marketing, planners should examine the anticipated consequences of marketing programs on affected publics, including target markets.

While this may be a noble goal, within the global context companies may find it difficult to establish ethical guidelines. Robin and Reidenbach (1987) further advocate development of actionable ethical core values, which then should be integrated into the organizational culture. One fruitful approach to the search for common values that companies may adopt is to identify core values that seem to be shared across cultures. Getz (1995) arrived at a set of five core values that seem to be widely accepted after examining the codes of conduct of four international organizations:

· International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Guidelines for International investment, 1972;

· Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, 1976;

· International Labor Organization (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, 1977; and

· United Nations Commission on Transnational Corporations (UN/CTC) Code of Conduct, 1984.

For each code, Getz summarizes the elements that address multinational enterprises (MNEs): economic and developmental policies, laws and regulations, political involvement, technology transfer, environmental protection, consumer protection, employment practices, and human rights.

The five core values Getz identifies are National Sovereignty, Social Equity, Basic Human Rights, Market Integrity, and Organizational Autonomy. These values are defined in Exhibit 1. The values most closely related to target market selection may be Basic Human Rights (in terms of consumer safety issues) and Market Integrity. The latter is impaired by the market imperfections discussed earlier, creating the market failures presented in Figure 2. Remedies should address these market failures.

First and foremost is the recommendation that companies incorporate ethical concerns into target market selection. At the micro level, companies can use Figure I as a tool for assessing anticipated consequences of marketing actions on various publics. These consequences should be considered when selecting target markets and developing the appropriate marketing mix for the targets chosen.

In the global arena, the issues that tend to spark outrage with respect to target market selection usually pertain to more vulnerable segments, such as consumers in developing countries. Cateora (1996) states that, in a developing market, the country's economic level is the single most important environmental element to which the foreign marketer must adjust. The marketing of infant formula in developing countries; of pesticides and the resulting "circle of poison"; and of tobacco products and their effects on Third World health, nutrition, and the burning of rain forests are but a few issues that have gained worldwide attention. Cross and Winslett (1987) characterize such practices as "export death." In response to the argument that choosing not to export means the company is imposing its own standards overseas, they counter that a business decision not to export hazards imposes nothing, in the sense that it compels no change in behavior or attitude.

A less obvious problem is the creation of