Ethical marketing is increasingly key for a conscious business practice


Ethical marketing enhances the power and boosts the message of any business that is committed to impacting the world in a positive and meaningful way. Regulations must be followed scrupulously, and this is not only the responsibility of the marketing team, but also management as they work to develop campaigns and techniques to market a company’s products and services to its target audience.

The objective of marketing is primarily to grow a business’s audience and thereby increase sales and profit. Pledging to do it ethically is imperative if we are to propel rapid societal and environmental shifts. This is why ethical marketing has become such a focus and passion for us at 4DP.

What is ethical marketing?

The ethical marketing approach is the practice of marketing products and services by concentrating on not just how they benefit clients, but also how they contribute to socially responsible or environmental causes. A company can use ethical marketing to show its dedication to social and environmental good while also promoting goods or services that help the planet, such as when they switch to using renewable energy sources.

To look at it from another perspective, ethical marketing isn’t simply a technique; it’s an entire philosophy. It includes everything from ensuring that all advertising is genuine and virtuous to establishing deep connections with consumers through a set of common principles.

Companies that conduct ethical marketing campaigns always review their activities from both a business and moral standpoint i.e. whether a certain marketing campaign will provide the expected return as well as meet ethical criteria.

Marketing ethics is a branch of applied ethics that serves as a reference point for marketing activities. Acting in accordance with marketing ethics is becoming increasingly important in today’s environment because they can be utilised as long-term branding, word-of-mouth promotion, and trust creation methods.

Using marketing ethics may have several beneficial effects, both in the immediate and wider scope, because it revolves around ethical marketing standards and principles that define proper market conduct, and this has a flow on effect to society at large.

The importance of ethical marketing

Every time we buy from an ethical business, we become a part of a community of social innovators and environmentalists. Using transparency, honesty, and mindfulness in marketing helps customers to make better purchasing decisions.

Businesses that decide to offer ethical goods and services do so because it is a reflection of their company policy, not because it is a current trend or something that is expected of them.

Marketing has been abused in the past and this has mainly been driven by greed for bigger profits. However, marketing itself is not inherently bad. An ethical marketing approach is an important component of any business’s life since it may help consumers to become loyal, result in long-term benefits for the company, raise its reputation, and increase brand value in the market.

Ethical marketing benefits businesses and people in the following important ways:

  1. Customer loyalty and satisfaction: When done correctly, ethical marketing can boost a company’s long-term value as well as consumers’ dedication.
  2. Increased sales: Marketing activities that are ethical in nature have a more lasting result on sales. Unethical conduct, on the other hand, is short-sighted and will end up costing the company money rather than generating it.
  3. Reputation: Customers and the general public will have a favourable impression of companies that stick to ethical standards or conventions in marketing.
  4. Better living standards: The sense of fairness and justice that comes from ethical business behaviour (particularly marketing), as well as customer trust, results in a general improvement in living for everyone in the supply chain.
  5. Longevity: Consumers are becoming more value-oriented in their purchasing decisions. As this trend continues, firms with positive ethics will attract new consumers and expand their market share.

Conscious consumerism is a new trend that has developed and been accelerated by a variety of circumstances including severe weather catastrophes, voices for change like Greta Thunberg, and COVID-19. These consumers are demanding that businesses shoulder their fair share of responsibility for the environmental problems we all face, and they are growing more intolerant of inaction.

The principles of ethical marketing

In the past, businesses were focused on selling their goods and services in order to make money. However, due to growing consumer awareness, things have changed considerably and these changes are becoming more widespread.

Unethical marketing and business strategies has led to the demise of several organisations such as Enron, WorldCom, and Hollinger International, which has highlighted the fact that these practices are no longer accepted. Relationships, passion, and transparency are the foundations of ethical enterprises. These fundamental elements, in conjunction with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, are the principles of ethical marketing.


For small businesses, relationships and human connections are at the core of their purpose. The same concept applies to sales, where shared values-based communities arise around brands that do good for the environment.


Small company owners are uniquely immersed with their work since they are typically handling every operation of the business. Customers are more likely to buy from a business that is known for its quality and excellence, as well as a leader that demonstrates passion for what they do. This enthusiasm may be used to demonstrate to potential clients how much time and effort goes into making the best possible goods and can be advantageous in terms of real and compelling storytelling, which improves brand awareness.


Small companies are more likely to be transparent and ecologically aware because they are more aware of all aspects of their influence.

Second, they aren’t as beholden to profit-driven stockholders as many large companies are. Small businesses may develop and acquire new consumers by communicating with customers about where their money is made, the materials used, and the sort of factory conditions in which they operate.

In the context of business, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SOGs) play an essential role in how businesses engage in positive actions. They have identified 17 of the world’s most pressing challenges that need to be addressed if the world is to become a more liveable place for people to flourish in.

The UN and other groups have set out to achieve these objectives by 2030. Businesses may help solve the world’s big problems such as clean water accessibility, poverty reduction, and renewable energy via reducing waste, offsetting their carbon footprints, or contributing to global issues such as climate change.

Ethical marketing advantages

Ethics and marketing should work together because they both benefit a company’s reputation and protect customers, as well as help to sustain the market. It’s important to have good business ethics in order to not only enhance your brand reputation and avoid public outrage, but also to ensure that your company’s stakeholders (employees, consumers, and suppliers) profit from the ethical standards you follow.

The advantages of ethical marketing are:

Avoiding punishment

Avoiding legal ramifications is one of the major benefits of adhering to business ethics. The principal advantage of ethical marketing is to ensure that everyone who interacts with your company is treated fairly and respectfully, which helps to develop a good brand image. You also save money on costs like fines and lawsuits if you follow good business practices.

Workplace culture

Employees are treated with respect and given equal access to chances, which makes the workplace a more positive and nurturing environment.

Employee retention

When your company follows sound business practices, it not only increases consumer loyalty but also employee loyalty. Employee turnover may be expensive for any business, but with the proper ethics, workers will desire to work for your organisation for a long time.

What is unethical marketing?

In contrast to good marketing, unethical marketing sends the wrong message to prospects regarding your goods and services. In certain situations, these strategies might result in legal difficulties, but more significantly, they can jeopardise your brand’s reputation or even its existence.

When a marketing effort is deceptive and fraudulent, it can become unethical. It’s critical to have ethical business practices in all sectors, digital marketing included. Customers frequently look for hidden meanings in advertisements, fine print, consumer reviews, and investigate businesses as a result of deceptive marketing methods.

It’s no surprise that businesses attempt to exploit our goodwill by employing unsavoury marketing techniques to pique our interest. The problem here is that these campaigns are designed on the basis of consumer feelings of scarcity or emptiness, not companies’ impact and values-alignment.

Because companies are not held accountable for their actions, ethical marketing becomes even more essential as we try to figure out which organisations fall into each category.

Ethical versus unethical marketing

Our core values are based on our personal ethics and will seep into our professional practices. It’s about more than whether you think your marketing methods are ethical; it’s about whether customers believe them to be so.

Making honest claims to get potential consumers is the goal of ethical marketing. Customers may begin to trust your brand if they believe your marketing techniques are fair and genuine. Mutual trust allows customers to develop brand loyalty, which encourages them to spread good feedback about your organisation.

The don’ts of ethical marketing

Keep your eyes out for these common unethical marketing practices:


Going green is becoming increasingly popular in advertising and while it’s important for brands to be transparent, it isn’t the only measurement of ethical marketing.

Greenwashing is the act of giving a false impression or providing misleading information on how a company’s goods are more ecologically beneficial. For example, consider the American multinational oil and gas company ExxonMobil. They said they were lowering greenhouse gases while, in reality, increasing them. It is understandable that it can happen; nevertheless, advertising fraudulently exacerbates the problem.

Unverified claims

Some marketers may mislead or exaggerate the benefits of their goods and services to entice potential and existing consumers to buy them, as a desperate attempt to attract new and current customers. Misleading claims might be detrimental to clients, particularly when it comes to wellness and supplement items.

False comparisons

One of the most widespread unethical marketing strategies is to highlight the negative features of your competition’s product in order to entice potential customers to switch toward your own. It’s better to focus on the features that set your offer apart from the competition rather than utilising this unethical approach.

Fear tactics

The marketing of a product or service in which the aim is to put the customer under excessive pressure to force them to make a decision right then and there, which is unethical.

Reinforcing stereotypes

If you’re old enough to recall 1970s advertising, you probably remember Don Draper’s famous words: “The future of television is in sex.” It will send the wrong message to the next generation, as well as help preserve a sexist culture that generations of people have tried to outgrow.

The do’s of ethical marketing

Here are some essential pointers to get you started on the road to ethical marketing:

Build goals with soul

Your key differentiator is what distinguishes you from your competitors. As a result, it’s critical to include social responsibility in the development of corporate goals – to ensure they’re consistent with your principles.

Full transparency

As a company, communicating your pricing, business procedures, and even ethical concerns is vital information for clients. It keeps your consumers interested in what you’re offering.

Involving customers

Offering to select a BCorp carrier like Sendle, for example, or offsetting their carbon impact at the checkout of your eCommerce is one way to do so.

Telling your story

In order to understand your position as an ethical marketer, you must first have an understanding of your motivations. What is the significance of getting started on this journey?

This message may be distilled and conveyed using Storybrand or other storytelling methods. It’s a unique instrument that you should use to your advantage.

Ethical Marketing Examples

Companies that are concerned with social issues use ethical marketing to increase their appeal and expand their reach. Here are a handful of our personal favourites:


The fashion industry is perhaps the most harmful to the environment, according to any environmental advocate. Other brands have utilised similar techniques to win consumers over. Patagonia, for example, has a long history of anti-commercialism campaigns. They’d rather you just bought things you truly need and that are durable for a long time.

They use their platform to raise awareness about political issues. Vote the a@@holes out,’ for example, is a reference to politicians who don’t take climate change seriously and was part of their recent apparel line.

Toms Shoes

This brand aimed to raise awareness of the lack of footwear available to children in developing countries in the One Day Without Shoes campaign. The contest was open to everyone and encouraged participants to post a photo of their bare feet on Instagram with the hashtag #WithoutShoes, which raised much needed funds for kids in need. We think the prize was well worth it, given that one snap equals the donation of one pair of shoes.

Dr. Bronner’s

Dr. Bronner’s approach to marketing is called activist marketing. They openly express their beliefs on the label, which, when you think about it, is a clever method to raise environmental awareness.

They’re quiet with conventional marketing methods and instead, utilise their items and social media to advocate for a more just and long-lasting world. Their Instagram account is full of posts on issues like Black Lives Matter and stricter gun laws.


So, where does ethical marketing go from here? We think it’s about keeping up education, activism, and campaigning. It’s all about assisting customers in making better purchasing decisions and visiting stores that are more beneficial to them.

Its goal is to revolutionise the way we think about how things are supplied, the individuals who create and sell the products we consume on a daily basis, and the communities that rely on fair trade for their survival. It’s also about developing brand loyalty by connecting your company’s ideals to those of your ideal consumers. 

At Four Drunk Parrots, we are driven by ethical values and this underpins all the work we do. Since our inception, our aims have always been in keeping with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and we’re committed to equality while also safeguarding the environment. Contact us today if you want a marketing project that is both ethical and environmentally responsible, while also taking care of how your brand is being represented.


About Sonja Ceri

Australian-based CMO Sonja Ceri is a regular commentator on the fast-paced media landscape. With a Masters in economics, 10 years of journalism experience and 7 years of agency Directorship, Sonja's interests go beyond text book marketing theory. Mum of one little girl. Agency Director at - a Byron Bay based agency who works with purpose driven companies, individuals and social impact Organisations. Sonja calls herself a storyteller, because that’s easier than listing social media expert, journalist, digital marketer, entrepreneur, mentor, workshop trainer, keynote speaker and opinionated blogger.

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