On adverts and consumer safety

It is common knowledge that as the market environment becomes more and more competitive due to the availability of substitute products.Businesses, whether in manufacturing, retailing or service provision, need to expertly invest time and finances in designing and conveying persuasive advertising messages that will retain existing customers and attract potential ones.

If a business neglects this important notion, its competitors will gain a competitive advantage and outclass it. This will eventually render it redundant on the market place.

While it is a key principle for businesses to convey advertising message that will enable them survive or grow, it is disturbing when some businesses conduct themselves unethically by designing adverts and disseminating messages that can be  described as misleading or false.

I find this practice irresponsible because businesses are obliged to conduct themselves with integrity and in an honest manner that always prioritises the safety of consumers.

In fact, safety is one of the rights consumers are supposed to enjoy.

However, some advertising messages businesses use in a desperate bid to increase sales volumes and maximise profits potentially promote behaviours that might bring unpleasant or unwelcome results among consumers.

One of these misleading advertisements are aired on some radio stations in the country.  It encourages people to eat any food sold in the streets, claiming the drug being advertised that cures any sickness that might result from the ingestion of unhygienic foodstuffs.

The adverts like the one in question put people at risk, especially during times of disease outbreaks, including cholera which ravaged the country this year.

It is pathetic this advert was airing at the height of the cholera outbreak which affected 13 districts in the country.

I find this practice very dangerous because cholera is acquired through consumption of contaminated food.

Certainly, it is common knowledge that businesses will survive and thrive in a competitive market environment only if they devise and implement effective advertising messages.

However, any ethical business desists from developing and spreading misleading advertising messages that subtly promote risky behaviours and expose its customers to preventable sanitation-related diseases.

The vibrancy and continuity of any business is certain and sustained only if the health of its customers is assured.

After all, only healthy and strong people engage in economic activities that generate income for purchasing goods and services being advertised or offered in the market place.

All institutions responsible for regulation of businesses and promotion of consumer rights need to be vigilant in ensure that advertisements spread accurate messages which will not unnecessarily endanger consumers’ lives or lead them to make poor decisions.

Rather, they must assist them to make informed decisions which will improve their health status.

I encourage institutions responsible for the regulation of businesses to formulate and enforce rules that will protect consumers from false and misleading advertising.

Likewise, consumers need to be cautious and proactively monitor advertising messages and report to relevant authorities businesses that issue advertisements that contain misleading materials which might influence undesirable behaviours.

Basic consumer rights include right to safety, access to accurate information, right to choose, right to representation, right to redress, right to consumer education and right to a healthy environment.

Unless businesses design their adverts in an ethical manner and every interested party monitors them properly, consumers in the country cannot make informed purchase decisions.

This will create a scenario in which consumer protection might not be guaranteed. n

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