Ethical Marketing: The controversy in ‘natural’ foods marketing

In light of the Occupy Wall Street movement, I thought about what my marketing message would be to government and corporations.  It would be for marketers to stop telling innocent citizens claims about a product or service that sound good, but are not valid.  It would mean the end of misguiding consumers with images and words.

For example, there have been recent articles in the press about breakfast cereals claiming to be ‘natural’.  Consumers think that when they purchase a cereal box that says ‘natural’ they are getting something healthier, perhaps better quality ingredients or ingredients that are not genetically modified and free of pesticides.  The consumer considers paying a premium for a ‘natural’ brand.

Recently, The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog released a report, Cereal Crimes: How “Natural” Claims Deceive Consumers and Undermine the Organic Label – A Look Down the Cereal and Granola Aisle.  This report is about the controversy in natural foods marketing.

According to Cornucopia Institute, this report has stirred controversy in the natural foods marketing arena by highlighting abusive marketing practices by some of the nation’s largest breakfast cereal manufacturers. In some cases, companies such as Kellogg’s, Quaker Oats (PepsiCo), Barbara’s Bakery and Whole Foods Market are selling products contaminated with toxic agrichemicals and Monsanto’s genetically engineered organisms while promoting them as “natural.”

When marketing your product or service, keep the following in mind to be an ethical marketer:  Honesty – always tell the truth about your product or service.  Do not use misinformation to increase sales and market share.  It might create a short-term gain, however, in the long run dishonesty will come back to bite you.


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