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Gray Zone of the Week

Use The Gray Zone ethical dilemmas to introduce your students to problems and situations that don't have one specific right or wrong answer. This week’s Gray Zone topic: Determining Buying Motives.

One of the most powerful emotional buying motives that a customer can have is a fear of death—a fear of death itself, a fear of what will happen to a person’s body when s/he dies, and a fear for how loved ones will manage when that person passes away. And, this fear of death is often the dominant buying motive for purchasing pre-paid funerals and burial plots.

While funeral home and cemetery salespeople generally sell these products out of concern for their prospects’ well-being, some of these same salespeople use their prospects’ fear of death to their advantage. In fact, they practically “back the hearse up to the front door” in an effort to make the sale. Are these salespeople out of line? Is it ethical for them to target their customers’ fears—even if fear is the customers’ dominant buying motive—in their sales presentations? What do you think?

This Gray Zone comes from the What’s the Motive? lesson module (LAP) and aligns to performance indicator SE:883 Determine prospect’s buying motives for use in selling.


Last week's Gray Zone topic: Nature of Pricing.

You’re no doubt familiar with Amazon.com—perhaps you’ve even purchased something from the online retailer recently! Amazon’s often unbelievably low prices are one of the biggest reasons for its success, but those prices are also the cause of controversy. In fact, some people have accused Amazon of predatory pricing, the practice of selling a product at a very low price in an attempt to drive competitors out of the market. This practice is illegal in the United States and many other countries.

Amazon and its defenders maintain that the company hasn’t done anything wrong. They claim that in a private enterprise system, businesses should be allowed to price their products as low as they want to, regardless of how their actions impact the competition.

Read the article “Can Anyone Compete With Amazon?” by Rhodri Marsden to learn more.

What do you think? Are Amazon’s practices wrong, or is the company simply being competitive?

This Gray Zone comes from the The Price Is Right lesson module (LAP) and aligns to performance indicator PI:001 Explain the nature and scope of the pricing function.