‘Expenditure on advertising is a social waste.’ Do you agree? Discuss.
Expenditure on advertising is often considered as a social waste. Advertising is criticised on the grounds that it unnecessarily adds to the cost of the company, weakens social values and aggravates, builds up consumer needs and desires for multiple products. However, proponents of advertising argue that advertisement through greater sales brings down the cost and aids the process of growth.
The following points help in judging whether advertising can be considered as a waste.
1. Higher Cost :- Advertisement expenses add to the cost of the company. The companies in turn, pass this increased cost to the consumers in the form of higher prices. However, the supporters of advertisement argue that advertisement in fact brings down the per unit cost of production. This is because through advertisement greater number of customers can be attracted towards the product which in turn implies an increase in the demand for the product. In response to the increased demand, the manufacturers increase production. With increased production the per unit cost of production comes down. Thus, it can be said, that even though advertisement expenses add to the cost, this increase in cost can be compensated through fall in the per unit cost due to increased demand and production.
2. Weakens Social Values :- One of the major criticisms to advertising is that it weakens social values and instead promotes materialism in the society. Advertisement attracts customers towards new products and induces them to purchase it. With increased knowledge about the availability of new products, the customers feel dissatisfied about what they currently have. In the process, often they end up buying what they don’t even require. However, such a process of discontentment and purchase of new products is never ending and materialism increases.
On the other hand, it is argued that advertisements just inform the buyers about the availability of various products and the final decision to purchase the product rests with the consumer. Advertisement increases the knowledge of the customers and keeps them informed.
3. Creates Confusion :- It is argued that a large number of advertisements on similar products confuse the customers. For example, advertisements of different hair oil claim for healthy and long hair by the use of their product. With numerous advertisements the consumer gets confused as to the product of which of the brand should be purchased. .
On the contrary, supporters of advertisement do not agree with this criticism and argue that advertisement provided a choice to the consumers. The consumers can make a rational choice for themselves after analysing various factors such as price, style, quality, etc.
4. Promotes Inferior Goods :- It is argued that products of both superior quality as well as inferior quality are advertised. Through advertisement, demand for inferior goods can also be induced. However, such a claim is only partially true. This is because quality is a relative concept. What is inferior to one consumer can be superior to another. Advertisements promote all kinds of products and the consumer purchases them if it suits their requirements.
5. Objectionable Advertisements :- It is said that often advertisement undermine social values and are in bad taste. Sometimes the language, images and the content of the advertisement may not appeal to the society at large. For example, women in men cantered products (such as, shaving creams, deodorants, etc.) are often criticised.
As against this, it is argued that good or bad taste is a subjective phenomenon and varies from person to person. What may be acceptable by one may be offensive for other.
Thus, it can be said that expenditure on advertisement though draws criticism, but the objections are not entirely true. While on one hand, they can be misused and have their own cons but on the other hand one cannot deny the benefits derived from advertisement.