Ethnic Marketing Ethics

Guilheme Piers and John Stanton
Publication Date: 
Culture plays an important role in defining ethics standards because dissimilar cultures socialize their people differently, according to what is acceptable behaviour. The potential significance of ethnic groups for marketing justifies inquiry into the moral judgments, standards, and rules of conduct exercised in marketing decisions and situations arising from decisions whether or not to focus on individual ethnic groups within an economy.
Identifying and targeting ethnic groups for marketing purposes are tasks fraught with many ethical difficulties. In a multicultural society consisting of a dominant group and many diverse, minority groups defined by ethnicity, these problems can be expected to increase substantially. Consequently, marketers may include minority ethnic consumers in their mainstream marketing programs. In itself, this has ethical consequences. Alternatively, if marketers seek to target individual minority ethnic groups within the same economy a further set of ethical consequences needs to be considered. This paper reviews the concepts of ethnicity and ethnic groups and their relevance for marketing strategy within an economy where there is a dominant group and also significant minority ethnic groups. The ethical consequences for minority communities arising from the use of non-ethnic, mainstream marketing programs are examined. An alternative approach, ethnic marketing, is also examined and its ethical consequences in terms of other groups within the one country appraised. The ethical dilemma and tradeoffs facing marketers within advanced, culturally diverse countries are then considered.