Ethics in International Marketing: Mars Chocolate

Ethics in International Marketing: Mars Chocolate

Pursuit of ethical business practices is critical to achieving sustainable growth in the

international context. The contemporary business environment demands businesses to consider

aspects such as ethical sourcing and corporate social responsibility in their practices. To

exemplify ethical issues that organisations face in the current business environment, a case

analysis of Mars Chocolate is presented subsequently.

Identification of Case Issues

Mars Chocolate is one of the top chocolate manufacturers in the world. It is imperative

for the international marketing manager to identify the ethical issues affecting the company’s

entry into the Chinese market to facilitate the entity’s success. One of the issues relates to the

entity’s sourcing of cocoa used in the manufacture of its Chocolate. Most of the cocoa comes

from West African countries where child labour predominates in farms (Berlan, 2009).

Chocolate consumers evaluate a company by looking at its Corporate Social Responsibility

(CSR) record. One of the main issues in CSR is human rights, which argues for safe working

conditions, and against child labour and forced labour. If Chinese chocolate consumers perceive

that child labour is involved in the production of the cocoa, the Mars brand will not be

considered socially responsible. Ethical consumerism is growing in popularity and there is an

increase in the demand for fair trade and ethical products in the market (Long, 2008). As such,

failure to observe fair trade practices may expose Mars to a dwindling demand of its products.

Another issue that Mars Chocolate faces is the exploitation of cocoa farm owners by

exporters and brokers. Consequently, the farmers gain very little from their produce, a reason

that may explain their use of children in search for cheap labour (Kirkwood, 2004). Marketplace

integrity is one of the main issues that CSR embodies. Mars should evaluate direct collaboration

with farmers to ensure that their distribution, pricing and selling practices avoid the exploitation

of cocoa farmers. The company has adopted ethical practices in advertising by not marketing its

products directly to children aged below 12 years.


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