Socially Responsible Marketing

Effective internal marketing must be matched by a strong sense of social responsibility. Companies need to evaluate whether they are truly practicing ethical and socially responsible marketing. Several forces are driving companies to practice a higher level of corporate social responsibility: rising customer expectations, changing employee expectations, government legislation and pressure, investor interest in social criteria and changing business procurement practices.

Business success and continually satisfying the customer and other stakeholders are closely tied to adoption and implementation of high standards of business and marketing conduct. The most admired companies in the world abide by a code of serving people’s interests, not only their own.

Business practice is often under attack because situations routinely pose though ethical dilemmas. The issues are complicated: It is not easy to draw a clear line between normal marketing practice and unethical behavior. At the same time, certain business practices are clearly unethical or illegal. These include bribery or stealing trade secrets; false and deceptive advertising; exclusive dealing and trying agreements; quality or safety defects; false warranties; inaccurate labeling price-fixing or undue discrimination; and barriers to entry and predatory competition.

Today companies that do not perform ethically or well are at greater risk of being exposed, thanks to the Internet. In the past, a disgruntled customer might bad-mouth a manufacturer or merchant to 12 other people; today he or she can reach thousands of people o the internet Microsoft, for example has attracted scores of anti-Microsoft sites, including Hate Microsoft and Boycott Microsoft . Well managed PR campaigns can also have an effect. The Rain forest Action Network launched a punishing PR campaign in 1997 to stop The Home Depot from selling old growth lumber. After two years of bad publicity and resistance for new store locations. The Home Depot agreed to have its suppliers work with environmental and forestry groups to certify that it wood products are not from endangered areas.

Corporate Social Responsibility:

Raising the level of socially responsible marketing, calls for a three pronged attack that relies on proper legal, ethical and social responsibility behavior.

Legal Behavior: Society must use the law to define, as clearly as possible those, those practices that are illegal, antisocial or anticompetitive. Organizations must ensure that every employee knows and observes any relevant laws. For example, sales managers can check that sales representatives know ad observe the law, such as the fact that it is illegal for salespeople to lie to consumers about the advantages of buying a product. Salespeople’s statements must match advertising claims. In selling to businesses, salespeople may not offer bribes to purchasing agents or others influencing a sale. They may not obtain or use competitors’ technical or trade secrets through bribery or industrial espionage. Finally, salespeople must not disparage competitors or competing products by suggesting things that are not true. Every sales representative must understand these laws and act accordingly.

Ethical Behavior: Companies must adopt and disseminate a written code of ethics, build a company tradition of ethical behavior, and hold its people fully responsible for observing ethical and legal guidelines. A 1999 poll by Environics International, a public opinion research firm, found that 67% of North Americans are willing to buy or boycott products on ethical grounds. In response to heightened consumer sensitivity on the topic, KPMG’s 1999 survey of 1,100 global companies found that 24% produce annual “sustainability” reports.

Social Responsibility Behavior: Individual marketers must practice a “social conscience” in specific dealings with customers and stakeholders. Increasingly, people say that they want information about a company’s record on social and environmental responsibility to help decide which companies to buy from, invest in, and work for.

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