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Brands must swap ‘pressure for positivity’ as research reveals unethical marketing is taking its toll [PRESS RELEASE]

Phrasee is urging marketers to swap pressure for positivity, and put Return On Ethics at the top of their priority lists for 2019

– 68% of consumers say they wouldn’t buy from a brand that used negative emotions to push sales

– But more positive marketing can boost sales, customer loyalty and team morale, generating ROE (Return on Ethics)

– Phrasee is calling on marketers to ditch anxiety and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in favour of more ethical marketing in 2019


London, June 13, 2019: Ethical marketing can significantly boost a brand’s sales, reputation and team morale – with unethical marketing putting a brand’s reputation in the firing line. That’s according to new research into ROE (Return on Ethics) published today by marketing language optimisation specialist, Phrasee.

With some brands continuing to use negative emotions like fear, uncertainty and doubt to push sales, Phrasee is urging marketers to swap pressure for positivity, and put ROE at the top of their priority lists for 2019.

The survey of 4,000 consumers and 400 marketers across the UK and US by Phrasee, which empowers brands with AI-powered copywriting, highlights that although shock tactics might gain attention in the short term, they put off many consumers in the long run, negatively impacting sales and the bottom-line. Of the consumers surveyed globally, 68% said they would not buy from a brand that used negative emotions in their marketing and 69% said they would buy more from a brand that used positive marketing.


Negative marketing risks damaging consumer trust – and the bottom-line

Unethical marketing is also impacting people’s wellbeing – and having a knock-on effect on brand reputation, customer loyalty and ultimately businesses’ bottom-lines:

– UK consumers highlighted anger (50%), inadequacy (39%), FOMO (39%), depression/sadness (38%) and anxiety (34%) as some of the emotions they felt from negative marketing.

– Almost two thirds (62%) agree that brands using negative emotions are, in part, responsible for harming people’s mental health.

– Three quarters of UK consumers agree that brands exploiting their emotions negatively will lose their trust and loyalty,

– 76% are turned off by brands that use high-pressure selling tactics.

The impact of unethical marketing seems to be particularly damaging for young people. 62% of UK 18-24-year olds said marketing had made them experience FOMO, and 59% said it had made them feel inadequate. More than a third (38%) also said “anxiety inducing marketing has made me buy things I have not been able to afford”, significantly higher than the national average of 24%.


Marketers under pressure to perform

But it’s not just consumers affected by unethical marketing – it also impacts marketing teams themselves, and even a company’s employer brand. The majority (88%) of marketers across the UK and US say ethical marketing is important to them – but they also revealed that they’re under increasing pressure to do more with less (64% in the UK and 56% in the US). Almost a third (32%) of UK marketers said they’ve felt pressured to use unethical marketing tactics at work, compared to 17% in the US. 82% of marketers globally would not work for a company they didn’t consider to be ethical in its marketing practices and 22% have felt ashamed to be a marketer because of unethical marketing practices.


Emotions Matter

“We launched our Emotions Matter campaign last year as part of Phrasee’s mission to remove fear, anxiety and doubt from marketing,” said Parry Malm, Phrasee’s CEO and co-founder. “It’s 2019, yet some people are still actively encouraging the use of negative emotions – as an industry we need to do better. This new research shows that marketing ethically really is a win-win – not only is it morally the right thing to do, it has massive commercial benefits. This is something that’s core to Phrasee’s business – our industry-leading ethics policy sits at the heart of everything that we do – and our technology delivers high-performing marketing language to help brands communicate with purpose.”

Gareth Jones, eBay’s UK CMO, comments: “eBay sends 200 million emails a week and, as the custodian of the brand, it is vital to me that each touchpoint reinforces a positive message for our customers. The findings from this ground-breaking research clearly show the impact that marketing and communicating to customers in an ethical way has on a businesses’ bottom line. Evidently, this is more than just being ethical for the sake of it. Responsible marketing and treating your customers with respect is a crucial element of business in 2019.”

From day one, Phrasee’s founders committed that the business would take action to help raise awareness of mental health issues. The Emotions Matter campaign was launched in 2018 to empower marketers to embark on a new era of positive, ethical marketing and prove that the approach is a no-brainer for trailblazing marketers and brands. Initial supporters include eBay, Flight Centre, Gumtree, Hilton and Social Chain. Join the movement and support Emotions Matter here: https://phrasee.co/emotions-matter/.




Notes to Editors

For more information about the Emotions Matter campaign and for a starter guide to ethical marketing, visit www.phrasee.co/emotions-matter




is world-leading AI that generates and optimizes marketing language at scale, delivering improved results for email subject lines and push notifications. Founded in 2015, Phrasee is the go-to solution for ambitious, innovative and analytical marketers. Today, its team of data scientists, computational linguists and developers drive increased ROI for enterprise brands across the globe, including Virgin Holidays, Domino’s, and Gumtree.


About the research:

Research was undertaken by Vitreous World, with online surveys into the attitudes towards unethical marketing from consumers and marketers. The surveys were carried out in March 2019, with a sample size of 4,000 consumers and 400 marketers split evenly across the UK and USA.

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