90% expect businesses to do more than make money

demonstrate that your businesses practices are ethical

This is the ninth of 10 ‘BEST OF THOUGHTS’ from the more than 200 THOUGHTS published in 2018.

Given the findings of the Royal Commission into the banking sector, this is surely the right time to discuss the importance of ethics in business. This is the first in a series of five thoughts addressing ethics in business and, more specifically, in marketing.

Recent research in the United States found that 90% of consumers expect businesses to do more than just make money. Consumers expect a business to be a member of the community, and an ethical one at that. They expect businesses to give back to the community as well as take profits from it.

Another study in the United States found that 36% of consumers view business as a source of ‘hope’. This research also found that the majority of American consumers view business as greedy, selfish, impersonal, and all consuming.

There is evidence to suggest that American and Australian consumers are more suspicious of business than ever, and they don’t like it. Increasingly, consumers are looking out for businesses they believe to be ethical and genuine contributors to the communities in which they operate.

One study found the marketing behaviours of greatest concern to consumers include:

  • False and/or misleading advertising
  • Manipulation on online media and in particular social media

Consumers are increasingly sceptical of advertising that:

  • Overstates or exaggerates the case
  • Massages or manipulates the facts
  • Makes claims that cannot be substantiated

Consumers are increasingly critical of businesses that:

  • Create ‘fake’ reviews online
  • Delete negative reviews
  • Manipulate social media channels

A number of Australia’s biggest businesses have been charged and convicted of misleading advertising and manipulating social media, thus fuelling consumer concerns.

Further, in an environment in which businesses are not seen as ethical, there is a clear opportunity for businesses that can demonstrate their ethics to be differentiated. In a sceptical community demonstration is essential.

Ethical behaviour includes:

  • Products that actually do what they are claimed to do
  • Providing opportunities for minorities (see more tomorrow)


Business may not view ethics as important, but customers do, and in increasing numbers. Businesses may think they can get away with CSR and creating a perception of ethical behaviour, but consumers expect more.

Many consumers believe that ethics are becoming less important to business but ethical behaviour on behalf of businesses is becoming increasingly important to consumers. It is so important in 2018, that it can be a competitive advantage.


Mintel, Entrepreneurs, Forbes, Choice and WordSteam.

The last THOUGHT for 2018 will be published on December 21. We will be back on January 14 with an all new look and an all new series of thought for 2019. Thank you for reading in 2018. I hope you enjoy the festive season. All the very best for 2019.
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