Drawing the Line Between Targeting and Patronizing: How “Vulnerable” are the Vulnerable?
Format of Original
Journal of Consumer Marketing
Purpose – This article aims to address the nature of vulnerability and the basis for protecting certain audiences from targeted goods and services. It aims to evaluate the need for protection as well as marketers’ defense that protection merely patronizes audiences.
Design/methodology/approach – This article cites published research that offers guidelines for determining vulnerability in the marketplace and examines conclusions from a case study that argue for holding companies to have standards of both individual and collective responsibility.
Findings – Categories of vulnerability are offered, and distinctions are drawn between the vulnerable and the disadvantaged to provide a rationale for deciding when some form of protection is needed. Arguments are given for addressing both individual and collective responsibility in order to determine whether charges of misplaced marketing are justified.
Practical implications – Marketers can gain better knowledge of targeting potentially vulnerable audiences and can better predict the likelihood of public outcry.
Originality/value – Questioning the issues helps key players including marketers, consumers, and members of regulatory bodies balance conflicting needs within society.