The top 12 problems in the marketing industry. The marketing problems affecting consumers/customers & best examples. The most popular problems of marketing and how it affects consumer behaviour and spending are explained.

Brought to you by Mau, a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at eDigital.


Some of the world’s top marketing executives and business leaders are implementing marketing policies to guide their communication, marketing principles, pricing, advertising, research and competitive strategies.

For example, when consumers make a purchase from a business, their expectations include wanting to be treated fairly by the sales teams and customer service reps and paying a fair price for the quality of the product/service.

Marketing decisions and efforts should meet and suit the needs of customers, suppliers and business partners.

Recent global consumer preferences and trends show that consumers prefer companies that offer good marketing. As a result, good marketing practices are a selling point and a component of a well-established corporate image.

However, problems in marketing can be a huge competitive disadvantage and start from conflicts and disagreements such as price wars, selective advertising, racism, unfair refund policies and deceptive marketing can negatively impact a company’s relationships with its customers.

Each participant – in a commercial transaction – brings a set of expectations regarding how the business relationship and transaction should exist and be conducted.

Each facet of marketing can have problematic & dangerous actions as discussed below.



Greenwashing is when marketers overrepresent the extent to which their brands and their material sourcing, manufacture, delivery and marketing are environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical.

For example, the potential to mislead can arise as a result of a business being unclear on what standards they use to assess the product as environmentally or socially responsible; or overstating green credentials that are not sufficiently reflected in their operations and practices. 

This misrepresentation distorts relevant information that a current or prospective customer might require in order to make an informed buying decision. 


“Return what was stolen from us”

That’s the demand from indigenous cultures to some of the top museums around the world. 

As most museums are funded by the Government( basically taxpayers’ money), is it ethical for marketers working for museums to spend money marketing the binge-watching of stolen goods? 

Museum marketing of stolen goods ethical considerations National Geographic post on Facebook

Museum marketing of stolen goods ethical considerations National Geographic post on Facebook


The average parent may not be savvy or careful enough to protect their kids from model and talent agencies offering them quick cash to let their kids be part of creepy ad campaigns. You – the marketer – have to step in and ensure any image that uses minors’ talent is fully checked and approved by your marketing and legal teams before launching/publishing it.

Children of all ages must be the most protected humans from pervasive advertising and marketing practices.

The solution: Before launching a marketing campaign that includes minors, double-check with your marketing and legal teams if you need to showcase photos of children especially when they are linked to controversial themes.

Note: Manipulation of children can be also seen in the gender marketing of children’s toys and clothes. While gender equality and expectations are evolving rapidly, some old-fashion marketers still think little girls only want Barbie dolls in pretty, pink dresses and little boys just want big, blue trucks. Gendered children’s toys/clothes marketing is a real issue for brands all over the world and its impact on children’s development has been widely documented.


Would you pay a premium price for a meal in a fine dining restaurant that does not offer you a clean table and cutlery so you can comfortably enjoy your celebrity chef’s culinary dish?

A similar situation is happening with already high-priced iPhones.

Claiming “environmental” benefits, iPhones no longer come with a charger and earphones.

But, the Brazilian government did not like it and in Sep 2022, banned Apple from selling iPhones without a battery charger, claiming that the company provides an incomplete product to consumers.


Some problems in market research are the invasion of privacy and stereotyping.

The latter occurs because any analysis of real populations needs to make approximations and place individuals into groups. However, if conducted irresponsibly, stereotyping can lead to a variety of undesirable results.

The solution > Personal details of the people participating in your market research should be kept to a minimum in order to keep them anonymous. When presenting market research insights and results, ensure you can also present the different results you get from your sample, not only the similar ones.


Selective marketing is used to discourage demand from so-called undesirable market sectors or disenfranchise them altogether.

Some of the most popular market audience exclusions are attitudes to gay, ethnic minorities, and plus-size markets.

In the screenshot below, an event organiser in Australia is assuming black/brown ppl may not be able to afford to pay the full price of a ticket for an event. This can be seen as very rude not only by dark skin colour people but also by white skin colour people who are in economic hardship as they may feel left out of these types of discounts.

Marketing ethics racism event ticket white supremacy Machans Beach Cairns Australia

Marketing ethics racism event ticket white supremacy Machans Beach Cairns Australia

Another marketing problem relates to uneducated vulnerable audiences in emerging markets/developing countries, as the public there may not be sufficiently aware of skilled marketing ploys, dirty schemes and scams.

The solution > Ensure you invest time and money into educating your team, your partners and customers about your product and services and potential scams and enforce policies to avoid attitudes towards vulnerable minorities or disadvantaged ethnic communities.

Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything Nike ad Colin Kaepernick American football player 2018

The Nike brand embraces cultural diversity in its marketing and advertising – “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything” Nike ad Colin Kaepernick American football player 2018 – Marketer of the Year by Adage


In the 1940s and 1950s, tobacco used to be advertised as promoting health. Today, an advertiser who does not tell the truth, may offend consumers and break the law. However, the law permits puffery (a legal term). The difference between mere puffery and fraud is a slippery slope.

What is puffery?

Puffery refers to exaggerated or false praise. Puffery serves to “puff up” what is being described. In law, puffery is usually invoked as a defence argument: it identifies futile speech, typically of a seller, which does not give rise to legal liability.


Erotic suggestions in marketing campaigns and/or advertisements may be regarded as a form of harassment.

The Adidas collaboration with Addison Rae was inspired by other popular celebrities posing with the same “Father, Son Holy Spirit” bikini style such as Victoria de Angelis a popular Italian bassist of the rock band Måneskin.

There is another reason the cat forgot to think about…

The team behind the promotion of Victoria de Angelis and her rock band know how to sell music online and may have crafted a social media strategy that creates controversial viral content to earn the attention of prospective music fans who connect with rebellious themes.

The advertising of certain products may strongly offend some people while being of interest to others. Examples include feminine hygiene products as well as hemorrhoid and constipation medication.

The advertising of condoms has become acceptable in the interests of AIDS prevention but is nevertheless seen by some religious groups as promoting promiscuity.

Violence themes in marketing or advertising are a massive issue, especially when used in children’s advertising and/or advertising likely to be seen by kids.


Look no further than the Dyson brand, which recently found itself toppled from its position as an innovation darling to being cast as an ethical villain following claims that the company was outsourcing to a supplier that allowed poor working conditions and exploitative practices in its Malaysian factories. Dyson immediately terminated its contract, but not before the supplier, ATA IMS, had lost two-thirds of its value.

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Through negative advertising techniques, the advertiser highlights the disadvantages of competitor products rather than the advantages of their own. These methods are especially used in politics.

The solution >  Train your teams to focus on finding valid solutions for their prospects, even if it means not making a sale or even if it means recommending a competing product. There’s little worse than destroying your brand’s reputation by pushing a product that doesn’t fit the end-user’s needs or desires.


Direct marketing is the most controversial of advertising channels, particularly when approaches are unsolicited.

Yes, I know what you are thinking: those annoying flyers and catalogues filling up your mailbox.

TV commercials, pop-up banner ads and direct mail are common examples. Email spam and telemarketing push the borders of bad marketing practices and legality more strongly.

The solution > Ensure you notify your potential customers on how you got access to their email or phone numbers and offer them a way to unsubscribe to your messages.


Deceptive marketing is not specific to one target market, and can sometimes go unnoticed by the public. There are several ways in which deceptive marketing can be presented to consumers; one of these methods is accomplished through the use of humour.

Humour provides an escape or relief from some kind of human constraint, and some advertisers take advantage of this by deceptively advertising a product that can potentially alleviate that constraint through humour.

The solution > just plain telling the truth as you would want it told to you.  Concentrate on communicating with your audiences rather than deceiving them. If you have a solid product and there’s a fit with audience needs, you’ll make sales. If there’s not a fit, then pivot/change the product or motivate your audience to consider changing their desires for what you offer.



Bait and switch is a form of fraud where customers are “baited” by advertising for a product or service at a low price; second, the customers discover that the advertised product – with the awesome price – is not available and are “switched” to a costlier product.

The solution > Create a procedure to always check products advertised are available. Create alerts for your marketing team, agencies and publishing partners to be aware when a popular product is no longer available.


Planned obsolescence is a policy of designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time and put the consumer under pressure to purchase again.

Apple is known for making their iPhones harder to update to the latest technologies. For example, millions of people are still using the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 but it has become impossible to update to the latest IOS software.

The solution > Have a record of all communications you use to ensure customers are aware of your product life cycle. The approximate years the product should work well.


A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public.

A pyramid scheme relies on getting the initial investor or “captain” to enrol others for a fee to them who in turn will also enrol others in order to get paid.

Note: Affiliate programs that reward your customers for bringing new customers to your business is a legit marketing activities.

The solution > Train your team and customers on some of the new and latest pyramid schemes in your industry and never run such a scheme or program.


1.1 BID-RIGGING (also known as Collusive tendering)

Bid-rigging, also referred to as collusive tendering, occurs when two or more competitors agree they will not compete genuinely with each other for tenders, allowing one of the cartel members to ‘win’ the tender. Participants in a bid-rigging cartel may take turns to be the ‘winner’ by agreeing about the way they submit tenders, including some competitors agreeing not to tender.

The solution > When trying to win tenders, let your competitors do their own bid, be transparent and never try to fix a price with your competitors. If you are offering a contract, check any signs top suppliers are not bidding for your contract or ask why a top supplier has declined to tender.


With well-managed economies of scale and optimal supply chains, you may be able to offer a price no one can offer. However, predatory pricing is the practice of selling a product or service at a low price, with only the intention to drive competitors out of the market or create barriers to entry for potential new competitors.

There are many articles that mention Amazon’s predatory pricing strategies and practices.

The solution > Ensure your business can explain a low price for a product or a service in the market. You may want to ensure you can show (if needed) how your company operates to be able to offer such low prices.


To market effectively one should be reminded that all marketing decisions and efforts are necessary to meet and suit the needs of customers, suppliers, and business partners. The mindset of many companies is that they are concerned for the population and the environment in which they do business. They feel that they have a social responsibility to people, places and things in their sphere of influence.

Popular read > What is corporate social responsibility?



Is it okay to tell women they are desirable just because of having straight hair?

black girl curly hair story the economist instagram post

black girl curly hair story – The Economist Instagram post


  • Puffery: A legal term that refers to promotional exaggerated statements or false praise. Puffery expresses subjective views rather than objective views. An example would be “Red Bull gives you wings“


Being aware of top problems in the marketing industry is essential for ethical and responsible marketing practices, maintaining consumer trust, legal compliance, and long-term business success.

Becoming aware of the most pressing problems in the marketing industry empowers you to adapt, innovate, and contribute to a more transparent and consumer-friendly industry.

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