article discussing the ethics in marketing and need for change.

The Power of Perception: Paying with our lives.

Marketers swear by it. It’s the way product and services are sold, and our economy relies on it.


Perception – selling the ideal. We’ve had an era of businesses in all industries producing and packaging product behind their doors, with marketers crafting the killer promotional plan centred around selling the promise of everything their customers desire.



Poor regulation in Australia, and loose legislation globally means that products are often sold as something they’re not.



Marketing by perception is costing our health, local and developing communities and our planet.



Sometimes, businesses are aware of the negative impact of their products and services but continue to supply as people continue to buy. Chemical, pharmaceutical companies and plastics manufacturers come to mind here.


In other cases, businesses are just focused on the conventional way of doing business.


As simple as, the designer or formulator designs the product within the resource boundaries they’re given – cost, time, planned product life, etc.


Production is responsible for producing as quickly and cheaply as possible, and procurement are doing their job when they secure suppliers as cheaply as they can.


Marketing operate independently to maximise the reach of their product by understanding the buying behaviours of their target market, and tapping into their frustrations and desires, as well as applying the latest trend to what they’re selling.


In this typical process of product development, the best interests of the customer are unconsidered. Some may argue, that it’s up to the consumer to know what’s best for them. In the estimated 30,000 choices any one person makes in a day, do you rely on an established brand, a known voice or a stamp of approval to help you make your choice?



The poultry or potato plant use bleach as a processing aid – and it does aid in processing but isn’t healthy for our body to be consuming.


The snack company use an ingredient to extend the shelf life of their product, as well as something to make it super tasty. They have more people buying their product because of the taste, and a lower return percentage from out of date stock. The ingredients are a known hormone disruptor and the packaging is damaging our environment.


The cosmetics brand is rejoicing because their costs have just halved with the introduction of a new ingredient that gives their product volume. It means they use less of the more expensive ingredients, and people use more each time they use it, needing to buy again quicker. The ingredient is a waste product from the petroleum industry, and the cheap packaging reacts with the product before being absorbed by the skin.


The surf brand knows the cost of their t shirt manufacture is super cheap, and think their supplier is doing a great job in keeping costs down. Maybe they’re unaware that workers are unable to feed their families on their wage.


The plastic reusable cups a company makes are a huge success having tapped into the perception that it’s better for the environment. And reusable cups are. But creating another glut of plastic products in circulation is not. And, impossibly cheap labour and processing means they maximise their profits, with the cost borne by the workers and our environment, as well as the people using them.


I have a question for you. If a business is harming people or the planet with their activities, does it make it ok if they donate some of their proceeds to a charity or environmental organisation?


Does the end justify the means?


There is a perception that if we have something on the shelf, it must be ok. If it’s available in stores, or if it’s an established, large brand, it must be ok. We need to join the dots here, for our survival. Recent court rulings proving negligence and known harm by large companies like Johnson & Johnson and agrichemical giant Monsanto are too little too late for people and the planet. The widely shared behaviour of businesses like Nestle and Capilano need attention, now.


Even the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Authority) are auditing a process when they approve a product – not whether it’s good for us or not.



All of these things are legal – it doesn’t make them right.


All of these things contribute to affect our health, make it difficult for people to make a living, and are the reason our planet is in an unprecedented crisis.


This is the cost of perception marketing.


So where does the responsibility rest? Governments? legislation?


Legislation is slow, expensive and complicated.


Governments aren’t interested.


It’s up to us as consumers to make choices that give the most positive impact to our health, supporting people, and minimise the effect on our planet.


By making choices based on reality, not perception, we can renew our health, rebalance our economies and recover the planet.


How will you make your choices count?




Check out our ‘How to make your choices count’ article.











Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.