Social Responsibility in Marketing
Isaac A. Medero Aguilar Mercadotecnia Social y de Servicios
Ethical responsibilities and constraints. Businesses and people face some constraints on what can ethically be done to make money or to pursue other goals. Fraud and deception are not only morally wrong but also inhibit the efficient functioning of the economy. There are also behaviors that, evenif they are not strictly illegal in a given jurisdiction, cannot be undertaken with a good conscience. There are a number of areas where an individual must consider his or her conscience to decide if a venture is acceptable. Some “paycheck advance” loan operators charge very high interest rates on small loans made in anticipation of a consumer’s next paycheck. Depending on state laws, effectiveinterest rates (interest rates plus other fees involved) may exceed 20% per month. In some cases, borrowers put up their automobiles as security, with many losing their only source of transportation through default. Although some consider this practice unconscionable, others assert that such loans may be the only way that a family can obtain cash to fill an immediate need. Because of costs ofadministration are high, these costs, when spread over a small amount, will amount to a large percentage. Further, because the customer groups in question tend to have poor credit ratings with high anticipated rates of default, rates must be high enough to cover this. Sustainability. Sustainability is a notion that proposes that socially responsible firms will somehow financially outperform other lessresponsible firms in the long run. This might result from customer loyalty, better employee morale, or public policy favoring ethical conduct. Empirical results testing this hypothesis are mixed, neither suggesting that more responsible firms, on the average, have a clear financial advantage nor a large burden. Thus, a useful approach may be to determine specific circumstances under which a firmmay actually find the more responsible approach to be more profitable, under which circumstances responsible behavior can be pursued without an overall significant downside, and the ethical responsibilities that a firm faces when a more responsible approach may be more costly. The individual, the firm, and society. Different individuals vary in their ethical convictions. Some are willing to work forthe tobacco industry, for example, while others are not. Some are willing to mislead potential customers while others will normally not do this. There are, however, also broader societal and companywide values that may influence the individual business decision maker. Some religions, including Islam, disfavor the charging of interest. Although different groups differ somewhat in theirinterpretations of this issue, the Koran at the very least prohibits usury—charging excessive interest rates. There is some disagreement as to whether more modest, fair interest rates are acceptable. In cultures where the stricter interpretation applies, a firm may be unwilling to set up an interest-based financing plan for customers who cannot pay cash. The firm might, instead, charge a higher price, withno additional charge for interest. Some firms also have their own ethical stands, either implicitly or explicitly. For example, Google has the motto “Do no evil.” Other firms, on the other hand, may actively encourage lies, deception, and other reprehensible behavior. Some firms elect to sell in less developed countries products that have been banned as unsafe in their own countries. Making itprofitable for the tobacco industry to “harvest.” Many see the tobacco industry as the “enemy” and may not want to do anything that can benefit the industry. However, in principle, it may actually be possible to make it profitable for the tobacco industry to “harvest”—to spend less money on brand building and gradually reduce the 1
Isaac A. Medero Aguilar Mercadotecnia Social y de Servicios...
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