Business entities are at one or several instances faced with ethical dilemmas on how to conduct themselves or handle an issue. The most challenging aspect is being able to balance what is required by their customers while at the same take advantage of situations and scenarios to take their business to the next level without focusing on what is right (Alzola, 2015).The dilemma is usually significant since exploiting the loopholes to benefit one’s business is usually easy. The case below presents a business entity torn in between using customers data for marketing their products without their permission and losing to make a kill in the sales. It also with it carries responsibilities that come with advertising products for kids. While on one side it looks so easy and natural to use personal data for marketing, it is very risky to go in that direction since the clothing outlet might be slapped with heavy fines in case the unsuspecting customers become aware of this and take the matter to the relevant authorities. In the analyses, the focus will be on virtue theory by Aristotle which in this would mean inquiring if one is behaving in a virtuous way.
Businesses without firm principles might be swayed to use unethical alternatives especially in how they advertise products to kids and in how they use personal data to market their products. The two issues carry big responsibilities to the business entity involved especially if this is to be determined using the available legal framework (Jackson, 2018). Advertisers are finding an easy way through neuromarketing to reach out to teenagers who are either unaware of what is happening or at the same time unable to decide for themselves and therefore, such advertising is only influenced by what their parents find as appealing.
Advertising that is directed at children like the PushediN approach has in recent years received a huge boost especially now that firms are trying to make a cut and appeal to children and teenagers. Initially, this was a forgotten segment, but new insights show that this is a relevant market segment with immense potential. Consumers in this segment are vulnerable, and thus their consumption behavior is entirely influenced by others who are either trendsetters, peers or friends who appear to be more knowledgeable and informed as compared to them. In this segment understanding, the attitudes and behaviors of the influencers and parents are paramount, and according to Aristotle, this needs to be done in a way that does not compromise ethics (Sison et al., 2018). Collecting information that is to be used on marketing should be done in a way that does not compromise values or take advantage of the teenagers and kids lack of awareness. PushediN, in this case, must subscribe to doing what is right and acceptable to avoid getting into deep waters.
Advertising itself is accepted in the business world as it is the only way to promote products and make your consumers aware of what you offer as an entity. Despite advertising being accepted, it should only be done in the acceptable ways that do not compromise the cultural values and beliefs of an individual. Advertising should shy away from infringing the rights of an individual. The case of PushediN and adverts focused on kids and teenagers is acceptable as long as they do not get consumer data in the wrong way or do not act outside the provided legal framework. According to Aristotle, something should be considered unethical and unacceptable if it does not spread fairness and will hurt the other party (Sison et al., 2018). Collecting data without the permission of consumers is wrong and more so when the consumers do not have an idea of what is happening. In this case, teenagers might be unaware of how their personal information is being used (Jackson, 2018).
Regulatory aspects provide for consumers personal information and data to be protected by business entities. Business entities that are failing to do this or override this are acting against ethical standards as suggested by Aristotle and failing to follow the set regulations (Alzola, 2015). Collecting consumers data or compelling them to provide data without explaining its intended use is wrong and illegal. It is also unlawful to use non-consenting individuals like teenagers and kids to collect data and later use it for marketing needs. The business practice is unacceptable, and those found doing it might be faced with legal suits and pay hefty fines. PushediN should, therefore, seek to focus on only what is acceptable and right under the laws set and within the framework of ethics. The concerns of any parent are like those of Stacey who got concerned if her daughter Scarlet got the PushediN app and used it. Stacey, in this case, had the opportunity to reflect and consider if the move is ethical even if it would help her enterprise generate more sales. This should be the moral question for all.
According to Aristotelian Virtue Theory, what is virtual should be determined by the right reason. Virtue to Aristotle was a purposive disposition since it can only be settled in disposition. Aristotle believed that a virtuous actor seeks to choose a virtuous action knowingly and understands how it brings positive implications (Sison et al., 2018). The creator of the PushediN app might have developed it when data mining was not wrong, and therefore there are all reasons to justify his action. However, with new sets of regulations and guidelines in place, it was basic for him to comply and come up with a marketing solution that follows ethical guidelines. In this case, he did not change his solution or stop collecting personal information for marketing, and this makes it clear that he was choosing to do it knowingly.
Aristotle further argued that individuals should not act right because its by accident, or because everyone else is doing it (Alzola, 2015; Jackson, 2018). It is evident that there are numerous other marketing solutions like PushediN and the creator of PushediN could be wrong to say that he was doing it because others were doing it. Ethics are not transferred from one individual to another, and therefore PushediN must have their reasons for doing this. Based on an understanding of ethics and what PushediN was doing, it is in all aspects wrong and unethical. Aristotle affirms my sentiments by providing that virtue requires conscious choice and affirmation and not just the following something just blindly. PushediN had a decision to make, either by allowing the teenagers to understand why they have to provide the information, allow their parents to partake in this or completely avoid the marketing approach completely.
Virtue leads individuals to either follow the set guidelines whether right or wrong or follow a completely different approach. Virtue allows one to respond to different situations and agents (Alzola, 2015). Virtues as according to Aristotle are associated with feelings, and the case of PushediN is not seen as virtuous as the marketers did not have any negative feelings on what they were doing by compelling teenagers to provide their information. The fact that the marketing company (PushediN) had used the application in several instances while they are aware of the implications and no change of mind or approach has been witnessed is a clear indication that there were no emotions or that the “benefits” were overriding the emotions and feelings. In the case of Stacey, the feelings and emotions are seen to override the “benefits,” and this is the virtuous approach.
Virtue is determined only by the right reasons, and for this to be possible, the right desire and the right reason must be there (Sison et al., 2018). The example of PushediN cannot in any way lead to the right course of action because the reasons to do that might be wrong. The indication that Stacey became sensitive is an indication that the right reasons guide her and right decisions are easy to pursue. According to all the tenets provided by the virtue theory by Aristotle, the actions by PushediN to market their products by using illegally acquired data and the information is wrong and cannot be explained in any way. It is unethical to gain an advantage at the expense of another party or individual in business whether knowingly or unknowingly (Jackson, 2018). A huge lawsuit could face PushediN in the near future if they do not discontinue this approach.
Stacey is also faced with a massive dilemma on what is wrong or right in helping her retailer market the products to teenagers and make a cut and avoiding to acquire the marketing data illegally. Stacey is guided by virtues, and she feels that it is wrong to go with such a move at the expense of the consumers. Stacey should desist from using the approach and even not share it with the rest of the team as it might bring more troubles to them as a retailer. Stacey is also required to go and find out if the retailer is using approaches that are also not acceptable in marketing the products. If this is the case, then she should advise the retailer on the best approach to use. From a personal point of view, I would prefer to make fewer sales in the right approach as compared to compromising virtues because the latter might have a long-lasting implication on the business. Stacey should also communicate with the PushediN officer on why she feels the approach is wrong to use in helping them market their products.
Following ethically accepted principles is usually seen as obvious and a norm but it is important to understand that it has far-reaching implications on the business in question (Sison et al., 2018, Jackson, 2018). Stacey might be letting go of a great opportunity to market her products, but in reality, she is avoiding a big problem in the future. Above all, whether there are negative implications or not it is a wrong approach to use especially on kids and teenagers. According to Aristotle and the theory of virtues, something does not become right because others are doing it, or not doing it, but it is because it is wrong or right within their conscious (Jackson, 2018). In conclusion to the above case, it is evident that most businesses are torn in between what is right ethically or what would help them gain an advantage over the competitors or make more sales. In such an ethical dilemma it is prudent to go for the approach that is acceptable, legal and morally right. Vineyard Cape is entangled in a dilemma, what is good for them might be the unpopular move, but it will in a significant way affect their future.
Alzola, M. (2015). Virtuous persons and virtuous actions in business ethics and organizational research. Business Ethics Quarterly, 25(3), 287-318.
Jackson, K. T. (2018). Interpreting the virtues of mindfulness and compassion: Contemplative practices and virtue-oriented business ethics. Humanistic Management Journal, 3(1), 47-69.
Sison, A. J. G., Ferrero, I., & Guitián, G. (Eds.). (2018). Business Ethics: A Virtue Ethics and Common Good Approach. Routledge.
Business Ethics Outline
The paper contains the following in the order provided;