Consumer Research and Ethical Implications
focus on some aspect of reference groups and/or social class consumer behaviour influence and ethical
points with the purpose of integrating the individual research to provide a comprehensive understanding
of the “killing of dolphins in Taiji Japan.”
Details regarding submission requirements are on following page.
2.1 Briefly assess the unsustainable consumption issue identified in Stage 1 – “overconsumption/ killing of
dolphins in taiji Japan” more information about stage one could be found in the powerpoint attached.
o What are the main consumer behaviour influences involved? Why investigate this specific
one? How can understanding this influence help businesses address the problem?
2.2 Provide a detailed theoretical critique of one Consumer Behaviour influence
o What theories are used to explain the issue? How does theory assist in understanding and
solving the problem?
2.3 Discuss and compare two relevant traditions of ethical thinking
o What consumer insights are gained from applying these different ethical perspectives?
How can these views support better decision making to improve sustainable consumption?
Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt
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The Taiji drive hunt is the slaughtering of dolphins that take place in Taiji, Japan. The
hunt takes place each year with the Japanese embracing it as part of their culture. Dolphins’
hunting in Japan involves driving the dolphins into coves where they are either killed and the
meat sold in stores and supermarkets in Japan and other global countries or chosen alive to be
sold to zoos, marine parks, and aquaria for purposes of entertainment to people especially the
tourists worldwide. Unfortunately, some of the dolphins die of shock before they are driven
away. Notably, the annual quotas for the Dolphins drive hunts run into several thousand and
involve the taking away of the cetaceans of numerous kinds including striped dolphins,
bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, short-finned whales and the false slayer whales.
Decisively, certain facts surround the hunting of the dolphins in Taiji, Japan. First, the
hunting of the dolphins does not merely end with slaughtering the dolphins. There is a lot of
money involved in the global trade in conscious dolphins that are used for purposes of
entertainment. The operation of capturing the dolphins is quite expensive with the participants
who take part in the business making up to $ 32,000 for every live dolphin caught with the
trained dolphins trading for much more money (Butterworth, Brakes, Vail and Reiss 2013,
p.200) However, the dolphins that are caught and separated from the families, as well as those
that are born in custody, live and exist horribly in living conditions and environments similar to
those in prisons. As a result, it is presently not legal to import wild-caught dolphins to the United
States. Intuitively, most people do not know how the dolphins, as well as other small whales, are
captured and used for purposes of entertainment or how the dolphins are butchered and their
meat sold in stores in Japan and other countries.
The Cove Documentary
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In an effort to educate and provide more insight into the practice of dolphin hunt to the
public, a documentary known as the Cove was filmed under the direction of Louie Psihoyos.
The Cove can be described as a 2009 documentary movie guided by Louie Psihoyos that
investigates and questions the practices of hunting dolphins in Japan. Notably, the movie was
recognized and bestowed the Academy honor for the top documentary piece in 2010. Besides,
the movie demands for action to stop the massive killings of the dolphins and modify the fishing
practices in Japan. Also, the movie aims at creating awareness and educating the public about the
threats and increasing risks of mercury poisoning as a result of consuming dolphin meat. Further,
to epitomize the seriousness of the issue, the movie is articulated from the point of an opinion of
an ocean conservationist (Newman 2015, p. 90). Moreover, the film emphasizes that the dolphins
butchered in Japan are very many compared to the whales slain in Antarctic. According to the
movie, about 23, 000 dolphins as well as the porpoises are butchered in Japan each year by the
whaling sector of the country.
Consequently, the documentary provides a synopsis of the process involved in the
capturing of the Dolphins and other small whales. First, the islets, the rock spurs as well as the
shallows in Taiji form a natural conduit exactly into the entry point of the cove. Moreover, there
are numerous small boats used in fishing in Taiji that is fortified with metal rods on the edges.
Every morning at leading light, the boats are directed into the ocean by the hunters and begin
patrolling in dolphin migratory paths searching for pods of small whales or dolphins
(Butterworth, Brakes, Vail and Reiss 2013, p.200). Also, the hunters look for the seabirds since
the birds often trail the Dolphins expecting natural food from the fish chased by the Dolphins. As
soon as a pod is found by the hunting boat, the operator signals the other operatives navigating
other boats. Further, as soon as there are about five boats on site, the hunters will crowd the
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dolphins using the boats while banging on an extension on the top of the vessel which creates a
sound that the dolphins and other small whales whirl away from. Next, the bunger boats drive the
pod inside the bay and eventually into the cove’s entrance. When the Dolphins get past the entry
of the cove, the other dolphin hunters shut off the entrance using nets.
Finally, once the Dolphins are in the cove, they are caught and slaughtered using knives
and spears adjacent to the tiny boats used in fishing. Notably, the movie contends that the
practice of hunting dolphins in Japan is unpleasant and unnecessary. However, since the movie
was released, it has drawn hullabaloo over secret filming, neutrality and how it portrays the
Japanese people (Butterworth, Brakes, Vail and Reiss 2013, p.200). However, regardless of the
controversy brought by the documentary, the movie has played a very critical role in raising
awareness about the inhumane acts of hunting dolphins.
Intuitively, the hunting of the dolphins and the subsequent selling of the dolphin’s meat to
the public should stop since it poses some severe health risks. Mercury severely stains small
whales and dolphins. Mercury is the next most deadly poison after plutonium. It attacks the
nervous and the brain system triggering terrible injury to hearing, eyesight as well as motor
skills. Also, mercury interferes with the thought process and memory causing dementia and
attacks fetuses in expectant women leading to terrible damage to the brain. In severe cases,
mercury causes death. As such, No human should consume meat from small whales and
dolphins. Further, the hunting of the dolphins adversely affects the marine biodiversity because
of the bigger number of the small whales and dolphins that are killed during the hunt.
Moreover, there are other notable impacts of dolphins hunt in Japan. Dolphins hunt
affects the numbers of the dolphins since about 23,000 dolphins are slaughtered each year. Also,
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about seventy percent of the population in the ocean is compromised due to the practice of
hunting dolphins. Further, due to high levels of consumption of dolphin’s meat, the human
population is at a risk of developing serious health problems because of consuming meat that has
a high content of mercury and other weighty metals (Newman 2015, p.90). To reduce the hunting
of the dolphins, several strategies have been adopted. First, quotas have been instituted to edge
the number of dolphins hunted. Secondly, through awareness about the dangers of eating
dolphin’s meat, there has been a considerable reduction in the number of persons consuming
Consumer Behavior Influences
Consumer behavior influences can be described as the factors that impact the
consumption patterns of a customer. In Japan, certain principal customer forces affect the
overconsumption of Dolphins in Taiji. First, cultural factors are one of the influences in the
killing of Dolphins in Japan. Cultural factors encompass a set of ideologies and values of a
certain community or group of persons which controls the manner in which an individual
behaves (Schibrowsky, Peltier and 2007, p.730). As such, what a person learns from the parents
as well as the relatives as a youngster becomes his way of life. Notably, the killing of dolphins in
Japan is significantly influenced by cultural factors since the Japanese take dolphins hunt as a
way of their life and a practice that should be performed by generations after generation.
Besides, numerous attempts to end the practice of hunting of dolphins are met with hostility by
the Japanese who claim and believe that hunting of the small whales as well as the dolphins is
part of who they are. For example, during an interview with CNN, Yoshihide Suga, a cabinet
secretary in Japan defended the slaughtering of the Dolphins by saying that the fishing of the
dolphins was one of the conventional ways of fishing in Japan (Newman 2015, p. 90). Secondly,
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motivation also influences consumer behavior since it awakens and guides the customer in the
direction of particular goals. Moreover, the consumers are also highly influenced by perception
which involves sensing the circumstances as well as the environment around them and making a
decision accordingly. Besides, the judging capacity and ability differ among individuals who
contribute to varying perceptions about the world and eventually, different resolution making
capabilities. That is why some people decide not to take part in the hunt because they perceive
the practice as wrong while others take part in the hunt because they see nothing wrong with it.
Further, the overconsumption of Dolphins in Taiji is highly influenced by economic factors since
the hunters earn a lot of money from selling either the dolphins’ meat or the live dolphins that are
used for purposes of entertainment globally. As such, the high earnings from the practice
motivate individuals to participate more in the slaughtering of the dolphins.
Relevance of understanding consumer influence
Understanding of the consumer influence is vital in helping the business address the
problem of untenable consumption. First, understanding of the customer impacts enable the
marketers to comprehend how customers think, feel and how they are influenced by reference
groups, the environment, social class in the society and status (Leonidou and Leonidou 2011,
p.80). Moreover, the consumption pattern of a consumer is affected by personal factors such as
motivation and perception, social influences and particular cultural impacts. Majority of these
influences cannot be reasonably controllable and as such, are beyond the control of the business,
but their consideration and critical analysis is essential in the conduct of business. As such,
careful analysis of the influences can help the business address the problem since the forces
significantly determine the behavior of the consumer. Moreover, an understanding of the
behavior of the customer can be applied in developing intelligent solutions to untenable
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consumption choices and practices. Ethics may be described as the standards of actions that
guide the behavior of people in various circumstances the human beings may find themselves in.
Besides, ethics is not the act of conforming to the law since the law can stray from what can be
regarded as ethical. Also, ethics does not encompass following the norms that are culturally
accepted in the society (Newton, Turk and Ewing 2013, p.1430). Besides, while some cultures
are ethical, others are not. For example, the killing of the dolphins in Japan is not moral at all.
Therefore, in the solution to the many problems in the society such as unsustainable consumption
behavior, it is essential that people embrace ethical thinking. Moral decisions and judgments are
not based on the standards which may be arbitrary, subjective, or inconsistent with certain factors
such as religion, law, own emotions or cultural traditions. The aim is to make ethical judgments
on standards that are objective and which are universally valid. Consequently, the principal
purpose of an ethical analysis is determining whether the action under consideration is in
agreement with the welfare of those affected by the act (Newton, Turk and Ewing 2013, p.1430).
Moreover, various traditions of ethical thinking describe an ethical action as the deed that offers
the greater good or one that has the minimum harm to those that are affected such as the
customers, environment and the community (Leonidou and Leonidou 2011, p.80). Other
traditions postulate that an ethical action is one that respects and safeguards the rights of the
affected. Stimulating viable production and consumption is essential to edge adverse externalities
to the environment as well as provide markets for goods that are friendly to the environment as
well as the health and wellbeing of the people. Therefore, ethical thinking perspectives aid in the
achievement of sustainable consumption since businesses will offer goods that are friendly to the
environment and which satisfies the needs of the consumer
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D. Newton, J., J. Newton, F., Turk, T. and T. Ewing, M., 2013. Ethical evaluation of
audience segmentation in social marketing. European Journal of Marketing, 47(9), pp.1421-
Butterworth, A., Brakes, P., Vail, C.S. and Reiss, D., 2013. A veterinary and behavioral
analysis of dolphin killing methods currently used in the “drive hunt” in Taiji, Japan. Journal of
Applied Animal Welfare Science, 16(2), pp.184-204.
Leonidou, C.N. and Leonidou, L.C., 2011. Research into environmental
marketing/management: a bibliographic analysis. European Journal of Marketing, 45(1/2),
Schibrowsky, J.A., Peltier, J.W. and Nill, A., 2007. The state of internet marketing
research: A review of the literature and future research directions. European Journal of
Marketing, 41(7/8), pp.722-733.
Newman, L., 2015. The Effects of the Cove and Bold Native on Audience Attitudes
Towards Animals. Animal Studies Journal, 4(1), pp.77-98.