Ethical perspectives on the erotic in retailing

Tony Kent (The Marketing School, London College of Communication, The London Institute, London, UK)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To define erotic retailing in the context of shops selling sexually arousing products to women, and the ethical implications of High Street “porno‐chic”. Its purpose is to assess the moral implications of access to sexual imagery and products in the High Street and examines the boundaries of its acceptability in society.


The approach is inter‐disciplinary, with two objectives; firstly to demonstrate the value of archived source materials to explore and structure the research problem in depth and secondly to turn directly to a primary philosophical source, to provide a new ethical approach to the research problem.


The findings demonstrate a typology of erotic retailing, the interrelatedness of the commercial opportunity with social and cultural developments in the late twentieth century and propose a philosophical answer to the ethics of erotic retailing.

Research limitations/implications

It is concerned with the development of new theoretical frameworks through the use of complementary research methods.

Practical implications

Its practical implications concern the future opportunities for a rapidly expanding field of commercial activity and a solution to the ethical problem of “selling sex”.


It engages with an emerging area of retailing, exploring and defining an emerging problem concerning the marketing and selling of erotic products and the ethical evaluation of the problem using a philosophical analysis.



Kent, T. (2005), "Ethical perspectives on the erotic in retailing", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 430-439.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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