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  • Writer's pictureEvamaria Foltz

The Importance of Ethical Marketing

Business owners must stand out in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive business landscape. One effective way to help your brand stand out is aligning it with specific values and components that your target audience can resonate with. Doing this will help you connect with your customers deeper and build trust and loyalty. This blog post will explore the ethical side of marketing as a business owner and consumer. Let’s discuss how understanding and incorporating your customers' values can drive success.

Understanding the Diversity of Values

Values are not one-size-fits-all; they exist on a spectrum, just like our preferences for products and services. Some consumers prioritize price over quality, while others seek out local businesses and support indie brands. The most important thing is recognizing and respecting this diversity of values within your customer base.

To effectively market your business, you must know your customers' values. Marketing and business success hinge on understanding this question:

What is most important to your target audience?

Are they price-conscious or ethically-driven shoppers? Maybe both? The answers to these questions will help shape your value proposition and marketing strategy.

Consumer Values and How They Change

Consumer values have evolved over time, driven by technological advancements, social media, and a growing awareness of global issues. Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, have prioritized putting their values first when purchasing. For instance, they often support fair pay for workers in overseas manufacturing facilities.

A close up of a group of hands reach towards each other and the sky.

Interestingly, Gen X and Baby Boomers are also increasingly considering their values in shopping, often due to political and ethical reasons. This shift in consumer behavior is a significant ingredient in the modern marketing recipe, which means ethics should be considered when trying to attract and retain customers.

The Power of Marketing to Shape Values

Marketing has the power to shape consumer values and behaviors. A compelling example of this is the transformation of breakfast from an ordinary meal to the "most important meal of the day." This shift in mindset was primarily the result of a successful marketing campaign. While the message had some nutritional truth, it highlights how marketing can influence consumer values.

Every individual has the ability to make choices based on their morals and ethics, but marketing provides an opportunity to inform and guide those choices. It's a tool that allows businesses to communicate their values and connect with customers who share similar beliefs.

The Role of the Digital Age in Marketing Ethics

The digital age has brought about a significant change in marketing by introducing us to new ways of connecting and exposing us to a global community with diverse values and beliefs. While this has, in some ways, created a generational divide, it has also forced customers to find common ground in ways we didn't before.

Today, businesses must consider personal and global ethical influencers when drafting their marketing strategies because the values we've been exposed to now play a significant role in shaping our business and shopping decisions.

a hand writing the word 'ethics' with a black pen

“because of social media, it is more common and more of an accessible choice for consumers to shop based on ethics.”

The Emergence of Collective Concern

In recent years, there has been a growing collective concern about business practices' ethical and social impact. Many consumers are questioning how companies with significant resources contribute to society. This collective concern is pushing businesses to be more socially responsible and ethical.

While it's true that some large corporations focus solely on profit, a shift is occurring. More businesses are recognizing the importance of aligning with ethical values to make a profit and positively impact employees and society. Customers increasingly choose to support businesses that share their values, a trend that business owners should consider when defining their brand's identity.

a diagram of marketing ethics and how they create success.


In the complex world of marketing and business, understanding the importance of ethical marketing is essential for long-term success. Values significantly influence consumer behavior, and businesses that recognize this are better positioned to connect with their target audience, build trust, and thrive in a constantly changing marketplace.

“As a business owner, you have to identify what’s important to you.”

As a business owner, you should identify what is important to you and your target audience. While not every business may choose to prioritize ethics, there is an emerging collective concern about the societal impact of businesses, pushing many to choose to practice or choose from more ethical operations. Ultimately, marketing should be about more than just profit; it should reflect the values that drive your business and resonate with your customers. With this in mind, you can create a brand that stands out for all the right reasons AND contributes positively to the world.

This blog summarizes our podcast episode with Marketing expert Molly Swift of Fine Roots Marketing. Please give it a listen!


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