Target Marketing is Exploitative

As marketers increasingly develop marketing programs tailored to certain target market segments in Asia, some critics have denounced these efforts as exploitative. Examples include marketing cigarettes and alcohol to less-educated Asians, and employing Asian women to clichéd stereotypes and depicting them inappropriately in ads. Others counter that targeting and positioning is critical to marketing in Asia and that these marketing programs are attempts to be relevant to specific consumer group.

Marketing to specific groups of consumers, or target marketing, is one of the most important concepts in marketing. Marketers, through the ages, have identified who their customers are, and directed their efforts at influencing their buying decisions. That is their job. In the last 30 years though, marketers have begun to identify potential buyers based on a number of factors, that make many people uncomfortable. Marketers now direct promotions at those of certain age groups, gender, race, marital status, gender preferences, and just about any other category you can place people in. This makes many consumers and consumer advocates question the ethicality of these promotions: Is it fair to direct ads at children when they do not have the understanding and/or capability to judge what is being presented to them? Is it fair to target ads at elderly, living on fixed incomes, with products that they may not be able to afford? Should companies be allowed to develop products that are specifically targeted at ethnic groups? My answer to each of these questions, except the first one, would definitely be, Yes. Why should a company be restricted from marketing a product to an independent, rationally thinking, adult? Don't I, as an adult, have the ability to determine for myself, with some exceptions, what I want to buy? Now, if there are issues of mental incapacity we have a whole separate issue to address. But, assuming that the consumer is able to make their own decisions; shouldn't I as a marketer be able to present information that will help the consumer decide that my product is what they want?

Is targeting of minorities exploitative? Yes, it certainly is. But, so is almost every other kind of marketing. You are trying to exploit a need, a want and definitely a gap in a market that maybe has not been addressed. Prior to the 1960's most marketing ignored ethnic minority groups and concentrated on the vast buying power of larger demographic groups. An opportunity existed for companies to address a market, with significant buying power, that had not been addressed before. Is that inherently wrong? That is the way marketing works: Find a gap, develop a plan to address the gap, and then market to that gap. That is sound business practice. If companies do not take advantage of their opportunities they will fail. Now, none of what I have said above gives companies a free license to do whatever they want, especially when it comes to my one, very absolute exception: Marketing to children and those who cannot be held accountable for their actions. Even as an adult, if I am not capable of making a choice as to the soundness of a buying decision, then I should not be subjected to marketing that may have unreasonable influence over me; And children are certainly not capable of making that decision. However, as an adult parent, I must assume some of the responsibility for buying products that are marketed to children. I must educate my children about what is right and what is wrong; what is a want versus what is a need; what is affordable versus what is not. Companies who choose to direct their marketing efforts at specific market segments have a responsibility to consider the ethical implications of what they are doing. Socially responsible marketing calls for target marketing that serves not only the company's interests, but also the interests of those targeted and the public in general.

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Playboy head called 'coward' in marketing-to-kids dust-up
Legislator's motion accuses adult magazine of aiming 'sexualized merchandise at children'
For a magazine that prides itself on showing just about everything, one thing it won't be showing next month is up. Christie Hefner, daughter of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and chairwoman and chief executive of Playboy Enterprises International, has refused an invitation to appear before the Scottish Parliament to give evidence to the equal opportunities committee

holding December hearings on "sexualized imagery and children" and to explain why her company's bunny logo is used on products attractive to children. That has some lawmakers accusing her of cowardice, reports Scotland on Sunday. The planned hearings follow a number of recent incidents of leading UK stores selling items inappropriately aimed at children: Woolworth's "Lolita" bed for little girls, BHS' "Little Miss Naughty" underwear and Tesco's pole-dancing kits advertised on its website's toy section. Playboy was drawn into the controversy in May by a spontaneous protest by York vicar, Father Tim Jones, who pulled down a display of pencil cases and notebooks bearing the bunny logo at a local stationary story. "I told the assistant manager who was on duty at the till that I was going to be launching a protest at the shop, and I went over to where the Playboy material was on the shelf alongside the Winnie The Pooh and Mickey Mouse material, and I started tossing it on the floor away from where people were," Jones, 40, told the York Press at the time. The minister also asked store patrons to sign a petition protesting "the intrusion of commercial brands such as Playboy into goods and services targeting children." "The long-term intention of this strategy is to encourage children to see the Playboy bunny as a friendly child-appropriate brand, preparing them for early commercial acceptance of Playboy pornographic merchandise," Jones said. "This constitutes a kind of 'institutional grooming' of children for their commercial exploitation by the powerful sex industry. This institutional grooming may be indirect but it is not accidental. It is deliberate, intentional, cynical and wicked, and must be resisted." Playboy blamed the stationary story for the problem: "We were surprised to discover that Playboy stationery has been so inappropriately positioned. Playboy's target audience is 18 to 34-year-olds so we clearly did not authorize, nor approve, the placement of our product next to such well-known children's characters. Our licensee and its distributor were also unaware of this placement. We will be reviewing this situation immediately," a spokesman said. In September, 20 members of the Scottish Parliament offered a motion charging Playboy with "manipulative, dangerous and exploitative" practices to "target sexualized merchandise at children." "Such morally corrupt marketing practices contribute to the desensitization of society to pornography and the continuing inequality and exploitation of women," read the motion offered by Elaine Smith MSP. In light of the much publicized protest by Jones and the action by the MSPs, Christie Hefner herself responded by letter, defending the company:

"Although I have not been contacted directly, this is an allegation I take seriously, and I want to underline to the Scottish parliament ... that Playboy does not market its products to children." Hefner described the adult magazine, founded in 1953, as "part of America's popular cultural landscape" and a "social and political forum for some of the most influential figures of our time." Its target audience, she insisted, was "trend-conscious men and women aged 18-35." "I have seen the considerable media coverage of the Rev. Tim Jones's protest," she wrote. "His actions and words, as well as a motion tabled by Elaine Smith MSP referring to Playboy, incorrectly suggest our merchandise is targeted at children." After Hefner interjected herself into the matter, an invitation was extended to appear before the committee to defend her company. Playboy has since informed the lawmakers it will send no one and the company says it has nothing to contribute to the discussion. "I think it's cowardly," said Sandra White, a member of the committee. "The committee wrote to Christie Hefner because she had complained to us and made an issue of this. Playboy drew attention to themselves. "Now, when they could be giving their side of the story, they've decided to turn tail and run. I'm pretty disappointed because I would have liked to hear them explain why things like Playboy pencil cases are on sale in ordinary stationery counters."

The "thing" being marketed is usually a product, service, brand, organization or ideal. The "subjects" are usually a targeted group based on age, sex, location or wealth. In each of the four steps marketers use mass media to facilitate their marketing efforts and influence the buyer decision processes. To some critics, marketers' ability to alter consumer behavior is powerful and frightening. An organization (U.S. spelling) or organisation (U.K. spelling) is a formal group of people with one or more shared goals. ... In mathematics, the term ideal has multiple meanings. ... Jump to: navigation, search Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ...

Critics acknowledge that marketing has legitimate uses in connecting goods and services to the consumers who want them. Critics also point out that marketing techniques have been used to achieve morally dubious ends by businesses, governments and criminals. Critics see a systemic social evil inherent in marketing (see

No Logo, Bill Hicks, or Marxism). Marketing is accused of creating ruthless exploitation of both consumers and workers by treating people as commodities whose purpose is to consume. Jump to: navigation, search Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century German philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ...

Most marketers believe that marketing, like any other technology, is amoral; it can be used for good or evil, but the technique itself is not amenable to ethical analysis.

Context A great deal of advertising on television is aimed at children, promoting not only toys and sweets but also products such as food, drink, music, films and clothing to young consumers from toddlers to teenagers.

Should Advertising Aimed at Children be Allowed? The Debate

It is not ethical to target children with advertisements, as they are not yet able to distinguish advertising from actual programming in the way adults can. This means that advertising aimed at children is misleading and unfair. It is also clearly effective, as otherwise advertisers would not spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year targeting children who are not yet able to resist their sales pitch. Advertising specifically to children is unethical because they have little or no money of their own and have to persuade their parents to buy the products for them. Rather than advertising directly to parents, companies use a "nag and whine" campaign that leads to bad feeling between parents and

Children are not naïve innocents, but canny consumers who can distinguish very young between advertisements and programmes, and understand that advertisements can be misleading. This essential learning process is actually developed through exposure to advertisements. It is also assisted by responsible parenting that does not just dump children down in front of the television, but spends some time watching with them and discussing what is seen. Advertising has no magical power to create unnatural desires for material possessions. Children who nag are simply badly brought up. Poor parenting and undisciplined children cannot be solved by banning advertising, as children have many influences upon them which can stimulate their desires for toys, etc.,

children. They rely on pester power to make adults spend money they don’t have on things they don’t want to buy, and which their children may well only play with for a few hours. Advertising which presents products to children as "must-have" is also socially divisive, making children whose parents cannot afford them appear inferior, and creating feelings of frustration and inadequacy, as well as leading families into debt. Advertising aimed at children brings negative social consequences, as much of it is for food and drinks that are very unhealthy. Encouraging gullible children to consume so much fatty, sugary and salty food is unethical because it creates obese, unhealthy youngsters, with bad eating habits that will be with them for life. Society also has to pay a high price in terms of the extra medical care such children will eventually require, so the government has a direct interest in preventing advertisements which contribute to this problem. This measure stands alone but has a good precedent in the restrictions placed in most countries upon advertising tobacco and alcohol. It also takes a stand against increasingly exploitative marketing campaigns that ruthlessly target children. In the USA marketing companies are already offering schools free televisions in exchange for their students being forced to watch a certain amount of programming and advertisements each day, and selling marketing data on those children. It is time that childhood was protected from such commercialisation.

particularly their friends. It is also untrue that children have no spending power of their own; many children under 12 receive pocket money and teenagers are often able to earn a little themselves. Learning to manage money is part of growing up, and advertisements help them to choose what they would like to save up for.

Children naturally like foods that are rich in fats, proteins and sugar; they give them the energy they need to play energetically and grow healthily. It is true that eating only such foods is bad for people, but this is again a problem of bad parenting rather than the fault of advertising. And of course, if advertising to children were banned, then governments would not be able to use this means of promoting healthy eating, road safety, hygiene, and other socially useful messages.

This measure sets a bad precedent which is likely to result in ever more restrictions upon the freedom of expression. Children watch many programmes that adults also enjoy, and some adults are also particularly suggestible; should we then extend this ban to all television advertising. And why stop at television when children are also exposed to radio, cinema, the internet and billboards in the street as well? Perhaps companies should also be banned from sponsoring entertainment and sporting events for children, and prevented from providing free branded resources for schools. On the other hand, any restrictions will be impossible to enforce as television is increasingly broadcast by satellite across national borders and cannot easily be controlled - nor can the internet. Banning advertisements is a severe restriction upon freedom of speech. Companies should be able to tell the public about any legal products, or innovation will be restricted and new companies will find it hard to market their products successfully in the face of established rivals. Children also have a human right to receive information from a wide range of sources and make up their own minds about it. They are far from being brainwashed by advertisements, which form only a small part

Exploitative advertising brainwashes children into becoming eager consumers and capitalists. Multinational companies deliberately encourage them to be materialistic so that they associate happiness with purchasing power and the possession of particular goods. A study recently found that children in Sweden, where marketing campaigns to the under-12s are banned, wanted significantly fewer toys than children in Britain, where there are no restrictions.

of their experiences; family, friends, school and other television programmes are much more important and all give them alternative views of the world. Broadcasting is increasingly diverse, with state-funded, commercial and subscription channels all available in most countries. Restricting advertising a little will not make much difference to revenues of commercial broadcasters, and they can be regulated to ensure that they continue to offer a good standard of children’s programming. Programme quality is likely to improve as much children’s television these days involves considerable product-placement and advertising tie-ins, which result in poor programmes and unimaginative formats. Advertisements are the means by which most television stations are funded. If advertising to children is banned, then broadcasters will stop showing children’s programmes, or greatly reduce their quality and quantity, which is clearly not in the public interest. State broadcasters funded by a license fee, such as the UK’s BBC, and specialist subscription channels that are also not dependent upon advertising revenue would both welcome restrictions upon the ability of commercial broadcasters to compete with them in children’s programming. As competition is the best means of improving choice, diversity and quality, their lobbying on this issue should be disregarded. Nor does advertising only benefit commercial broadcasters, consumers also benefit. Greece has banned advertising of toys, and this has led to a more limited selection of toys being sold in Greece. Children’s magazines rely upon advertising to be affordable - logically under this proposal they should be prevented from doing so, and so effectively shut down.

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TARGET MARKET AND NONTARGET MARKET EFFECTS Target marketing refers to the identification of a set of buyers sharing common needs or characteristics that a company decides to serve (Kotler, Armstrong,&Starr, 1991). It has arguably been the driving force behind the success of many well-known brands (e.g., Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz, Miller Lite) and provides the basis of a predominant branding strategy, the user positioning approach, in which the brand is closely associated with a particular user or customer (e.g., Maybelline and the girl next door). Underlying the use of target marketing is the premise that those who are targeted, or spoken to, will have strong affinity for the brand (Aaker, 1999).Anumber of researchers have examined how various target markets (e.g., older consumers, women, African Americans) arrive at the higher levels of affinity for the brand. For example, research has shown that racial similarity (Whittler, 1989), role congruence (Meyers-Levy, 1989), labeling (Tepper, 1994), intensity

of ethnic identification (Williams & Qualls, 1989), shared cultural knowledge (Brumbaugh, 1997), and ethnic salience (Deshpande & Stayman, 1994) all evoke positive effects among the target market. This research has generally demonstrated that the process by which target marketing operates is driven by consumers’ inference of similarity between some characteristics of the advertisement (e.g., source pictured, language used, lifestyle represented) and characteristics of the consumer (e.g., reality or desire of having the represented lifestyle; Gronhaug&Rostvig, 1978). Thus, persuasion is enhanced by a match between the characteristics in the advertisement and those of the consumer, relative to when there is no such match (Whittler, 1989; Whittler & DiMeo, 1991). In contrast, negative nontarget market effects may occur when the cues in an advertisement are incongruent with some characteristic, need, belief, or value of the consumer. For example, when an advertisement source has characteristics that differ from those of the viewer (e.g., when the advertisement features individuals from a group of which the viewer is not a member), these favorable effects should not accrue. Rather, viewers in the nontarget market may perceive dissimilarity between themselves and the intended target in the advertisement (as conveyed through source or nonsource targeting cues). As a result, individuals may infer that their tastes and preferences are different from that of the intended target and thus fail to adopt the favorable attitude toward the advertisement. Anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals viewing an advertisement that has not been designed to appeal to their market segment are likely to view the advertisement as distracting or irritating (Star, 1989), may feel ignored or neglected (Greco, 1989), or even become alienated or offended (Lipman, 1991). Thus, nontarget market effects are marked not by a failure to achieve favorable target market effects, but rather a decreased preference for an advertisement by people who believe they are not the target of the advertisement.1

MARKETING DEBATE—Is Target Marketing Ever Bad? As marketers increasingly develop marketing programs tailored to certain target market segments, some critics have denounced these efforts as exploitative. For example, the preponderance of billboards advertising cigarettes, alcohol, and other voices in lowincome urban areas is seen as taking advantage of a vulnerable market segment. Critics can be especially harsh in evaluation marketing programs that target African Americans and other minority groups, claiming that they often employ clichéd stereotypes and inappropriate depictions. Others counter with the point of view that targeting and positioning is critical to

marketing and that these marketing programs are an attempt to be relevant to a certain consumer group. Take a position: Targeting minorities is exploitative versus targeting minorities is a sound business practice. Suggested Responses: Pro: When marketers use their advance knowledge of specific target markets, such as minorities that preys upon the target market’s weaknesses and lack of information, then marketing can be said to be exploiting the said target market for gains. Marketers should always be aware that information is a powerful tool that has to be used responsibly and prudently. Products and services that cater to minorities that cause adverse health effects or pejorative social action(s) because of their usage need to be marketed in a socially responsible way. Just because a marketer has information on the buying habits, social styles, motivation, perception, and purchase criteria specific to a target market does not automatically permit the marketer to use this information freely. Con: Marketers do not create social systems nor does marketing create social ills. Marketers cannot assume the responsibility for lack of personal choice, lack of information or knowledge, and the lack of personal responsibility. It is the role of marketing to deliver to the target market the goods and services they want and need. Marketing is “amoral” in its delivery of information to target markets and the target markets must decide for themselves the use or non-use of the products marketed. Using advanced research methods to uncover motivation, purchase intent, post-purchase usage, and the like is sound business practice and the marketer owes its stakeholders the responsibility to use this information that increases sales.

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