When marketing to different areas of the world, it is important to do so ethically. Like other areas, international marketing has its own set of regulations. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest business organization in the world and is in charge of rule setting, dispute resolution, and policy advocacy. Their mission is to enable businesses worldwide to secure peace, prosperity, and opportunity for all. When it comes to regulation, the ICC has three policies.
Digital Marketing Communications
The ICC recognizes that with the rise of smart devices, digital advertising has been exponentially increasing. In particular, the use of Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) has been increasing. OBA refers to the collection of multiple data points across several websites that are used to predict preferences and target specialized ads for the user. The use of OBA comes with a concern for privacy and data protection. The ICC provides a set of guidelines to follow which encourages businesses to be ethical when it comes to OBA.
- Clear and conspicuous notice regarding if and how OBA data collection is used. Notice should include the type of data collected and the purpose for collecting it;
- Having an easy-to-use mechanism to let consumers decide about the collection and use of their data for OBA purposes;
- Obtaining explicit consumer consent for OBA in all cases of collecting and using data via technologies or practices intended to harvest that data from all or almost all websites visited by a particular computer or device across multiple web domains;
- Obtaining explicit consumer consent for creation and use of OBA segments relying on sensitive data;
The majority of rules revolve around transparency. Have you ever scrolled through dozens of pages of Terms and Agreements and not read a single word? Companies make it confusing to know what data is being collected and their intentions on using it. The ICC calls for this practice to stop, and puts the decision in the hands of the consumer.
With the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), many companies see the future of business as providing a sustainable product. Well, what’s wrong with making the planet greener? The ICC raises the concern that while sustainable products are increasing, more businesses are “overstating or misrepresenting” the environmental benefits of a product or service. This happens more than you think and there’s actually a term for it – “Greenwashing”. The ICC believes greenwashing undermines consumer confidence and also penalizes other companies who practice sustainability. For this reason, the ICC put forward the following principles:
- Ensuring that all statements and visual treatments do not mislead, overstate or exploit consumers’ concern for the environment, given their possible lack of knowledge in the area.
- Avoidance of general claims, like “environmentally friendly,” “green,” “sustainable,” and “carbon friendly,” unless there is validation of the accomplishment against a very high standard of proof.
- Presenting qualifications in a way that is clear, prominent, understandable and accessible to consumers.
- Presenting improvement claims separately so it is clear whether each claim relates to the product, an ingredient of the product, the packaging or an ingredient of the packaging.
Marketing and Advertising to Children
The ICC acknowledges that advertising to the next generation is the ultimate target for advertisers. Children normally influence what their parents buy whether it be a holiday gift or choosing a restaurant. The ICC argues that a child’s vulnerability and inexperience must be protected from potentially harmful content. In response, ICC code suggests that all marketers have the responsibility to be legal, decent, honest, and truthful. The ICC points out one important issue affecting children; childhood obesity. On average, 50% of advertisements children see are on food. ICC believes children are especially vulnerable since they do not understand the risks of malnutrition. As a solution, ICC provides the following points on marketing to children:
- Only products suitable for children are marketed in media intended for them;
- Advertising and marketing communications geared to children should be clearly identifiable as marketing;
- Communications should not undermine positive behaviour, social mores or parental
- Judgement; parents are encouraged to participate and supervise online activities
International marketing and advertisement must be done in an ethical manner. Are there any other regulations that the ICC should add? What’s the biggest concern moving forward?