ROE (Return on Ethics): Positive marketing can boost sales and customer loyalty

Ethical marketing can significantly boost a brand’s sales, reputation and team morale – with unethical marketing putting a brand’s reputation in the firing line, according to new research of Phrasee on Return on Ethics.

With some brands continuing to use negative emotions like fear, uncertainty and doubt to push sales, Phrasee is urging marketers to swap pressure for positivity and put ROE at the top of their priority lists for 2019.

The survey of 4,000 consumers and 400 marketers across the UK and US by Phrasee, which empowers brands with AI-powered copywriting, highlights that although shock tactics might gain attention in the short term, they put off many consumers in the long run, negatively impacting sales and the bottom-line. Of the consumers surveyed globally, 68% said they would not buy from a brand that used negative emotions in their marketing and 69% said they would buy more from a brand that used positive marketing.

Negative marketing and consumer trust 

Unethical marketing is also impacting people’s wellbeing – and having a knock-on effect on brand reputation, customer loyalty and ultimately businesses’ bottom-lines:

  • UK consumers highlighted anger (50%), inadequacy (39%), FOMO (39%), depression/sadness (38%) and anxiety (34%) as some of the emotions they felt from negative marketing.
  • Almost two thirds (62%) agree that brands using negative emotions are, in part, responsible for harming people’s mental health.
  • Three-quarters of UK consumers agree that brands exploiting their emotions negatively will lose their trust and loyalty,
  • 76% are turned off by brands that use high-pressure selling tactics.

The impact of unethical marketing seems to be particularly damaging to young people. 62% of UK 18-24-year olds said marketing had made them experience FOMO, and 59% said it had made them feel inadequate. More than a third (38%) also said “anxiety-inducing marketing has made me buy things I have not been able to afford”, significantly higher than the national average of 24%.

Marketers under pressure

But it’s not just consumers affected by unethical marketing – it also impacts marketing teams themselves, and even a company’s employer brand. The majority (88%) of marketers across the UK and US say ethical marketing is important to them – but they also revealed that they’re under increasing pressure to do more with less (64% in the UK and 56% in the US).

Almost a third (32%) of UK marketers said they’ve felt pressured to use unethical marketing tactics at work, compared to 17% in the US. 82% of marketers globally would not work for a company they didn’t consider to be ethical in its marketing practices and 22% have felt ashamed to be a marketer because of unethical marketing practices.

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