As Marketers, Where Should We Draw the Line Between Accountability and Profitability?

And Is That Our Responsibility or Our Client’s?

Sustainable developmentWho bears the responsibility for creating awareness for, or being aware of, the claims a company makes of its product? Is it a company, its marketing agency, or the consumer? Well, ideally it’s the company living its values. I have no issue if a company is up-front that its goal is to make money or sells a sugary product, as long as they don’t claim to be healthful.

But you can’t be sure companies today are shooting straight, and the global supply chain makes it hard for consumers to do their due diligence. But you can ask yourself, “how deep do I look to see if the product I buy meets my standards,” whatever they are.  If I choose to “Buy American,” do the products I buy meet that criteria? What if it is a product assembled here but made of components from other countries where costs are cheaper? If it’s “local” you want, what IS local? The region? The state? Within 50—or 100 miles? How hard will you look for this much information, or is it your expectation that the company will disclose the information?

If you’re a consumer OR producer, here are some definitions that may be helpful:


This is a fuzzy word, because one person’s local is “within 10 miles” and another’s is “from within the state.” A good idea is to at least keep “local” within your state until the word is formally defined.  Interesting reading on this can be found here.

“Free From…”

Whether a product claims to be gluten-free, antibiotic-free, sugar-free or free from dyes, additives or other undesirable substances, many companies use “free from” as a sales tool. A company’s product should, whenever possible, have been tested and found free from that substance. There are plenty of good blogs and websites too.

As a consumer, if you say you care about the environment or child labor or other issues, buy like you mean it. There are plenty of resources out there to help guide you, and you can feel good about whatever choice you make, as a consumer and as a business partner.

— Margaret Lisi, CEO St!r Marketing