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The Ethical Brand - UK - August 2017

“The ethical perception of brands is generally improving, even within sectors that have previously struggled with negative connotations, such as financial services. These rising standards mean that there is little room for complacency among brands. Anyone content to merely maintain the status quo is at risk of falling behind competing brands that are raising their own standards.”
– Richard Hopping, Brand and Household Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • Brand overview
            • Ecover remains the standard bearer
              • Figure 1: Top ranking of brands, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
            • The Body Shop and Lush likely to influence one another
              • Figure 2: Top ranking of brands, by agreement with “A brand that is socially responsible”, January 2015-June 2017
            • Dove’s campaigning image helps boost its CSR credentials
              • Figure 3: Top ranking of brands, by agreement with “A brand that cares for the environment”, January 2015-June 2017
            • Cross-category review
              • FMCG sectors ahead of the rest
                • Figure 4: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by sector, January 2015-June 2017
              • Media brands most likely to be considered unethical
                • Figure 5: Average agreement with “unethical” across brands, by sector, January 2015-June 2017
              • Little difference between gender overall
                • Figure 6: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by gender, January 2015-June 2017
              • 16-34s more likely to describe brands as ethical
                • Figure 7: Average agreement with “ethical” across all brands, by age, January 2015-June 2017
              • Not everyone can afford to care about a brand’s ethical credentials
                • Figure 8: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by household income, January 2015-June 2017
              • Improving standards across the board
                • Figure 9: Average ethical score for brands covered in 2012-13 and 2016-17, January 2012-June 2017
              • Time acts as a healer for previous offenders
                • Figure 10: Agreement with “ethical” for selected financial services brands, 2012/13 and 2016/17
              • What we think
              • Brand Overview – What You Need to Know

                • Ecover leads the way, FMCG follows
                  • Loan brands seen as lacking ethics
                    • Ecover is an all-round high scorer
                      • Ethics likely to be influenced by competitor brands
                      • Brands Considered Ethical

                        • Ecover leads the way, FMCG follows
                          • Figure 11: Top ranking of brands, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                      • Brands Not Considered Ethical

                        • Loan brands seen as lacking ethics…
                          • Figure 12: Brands with least agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                        • …and are most likely to be actively considered as being “unethical”
                          • Figure 13: Top ranking of brands, by agreement with “unethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                      • Other Ethical Associations

                        • Ecover is an all-round high scorer
                          • The Body Shop and Lush likely to influence one another
                            • Figure 14: Top ranking of brands, by agreement with “A brand that is socially responsible”, January 2015-June 2017
                          • Sir James Dyson influential in his brand’s image
                            • Altruistic purpose rather than behaviour
                              • Dove continues real beauty focus
                                • An emphasis on Britishness
                                  • Figure 15: Top ranking of brands, by agreement with “A brand that cares for the environment”, January 2015-June 2017
                                • Caring for natural resources
                                • The Meaning of Ethics – What You Need to Know

                                  • Ethical concerns are varied
                                    • Ethos rather than activity
                                      • Supermarkets considered ethical by online focus group
                                        • Improving ethics is a tough ask
                                          • Ethics are important to consumers, but other priorities can come first
                                          • Ethical Concerns of Consumers

                                            • Mintel’s online focus group highlighted varied ethical concerns
                                              • The environment
                                                • Workers’ rights and fair trade
                                                    • Figure 16: Agreement with “ethical” and “unethical” for Primark, July 2012-August 2016
                                                    • Figure 17: Online conversation around ethical concerns, January 2010-July 2017
                                                  • Animal testing
                                                    • Investing in the community
                                                    • What Makes an Ethical Brand?

                                                      • Ethos rather than activity
                                                        • FMCG brands face a different challenge
                                                          • Using packaging, labelling and branding to signpost
                                                          • Examples of Ethical Brands

                                                            • Supermarkets considered ethical by online focus group…
                                                              • …but supermarkets aren’t among those seen as most ethical in prompted research
                                                                • Brands replicated in consumer research
                                                                  • L’Oréal and Sweaty Betty also mentioned
                                                                  • Brands that Have Changed Opinions

                                                                    • Actively improving ethics is a tough ask
                                                                      • Coca-Cola’s plastic initiatives capture attention
                                                                          • Figure 18: Coca-Cola agreement with “Ethical”, February 2012-April 2017
                                                                        • Market forces as a trigger to improve
                                                                        • The Importance of Ethics

                                                                          • Ethics are important to consumers…
                                                                            • …but price can sometimes come first
                                                                              • Few people have stopped using a brand for ethical reasons
                                                                              • Sector Review – What You Need to Know

                                                                                • Emissions likely to become more crucial in the automotive sector
                                                                                  • Health and perceptions of natural key to food and drink brands
                                                                                    • High-scoring BPC brands use names to signpost
                                                                                      • Chance to fill ethical void in financial services
                                                                                        • Pret’s catering for vegetarianism means it stands out
                                                                                          • Altruistic purpose can encourage ethicality in travel and media
                                                                                          • Automotive

                                                                                            • Audi is seen as most ethical brand in automotive sector
                                                                                              • Figure 19: Top ranking of brands in the automotive sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                            • Emissions likely to be an influential factor in the future
                                                                                              • Volkswagen returns to top-ranked brands
                                                                                              • Beauty & Personal Care

                                                                                                • What’s in a name for BPC brands?
                                                                                                  • Figure 20: Top ranking of brands in the BPC sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                • Social campaigning can have a benefit
                                                                                                • Drink

                                                                                                  • Natural may be key in drinks sector
                                                                                                    • Figure 21: Top ranking of brands in the drinks sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                  • Use of natural resources offers an opportunity
                                                                                                  • Fashion

                                                                                                    • Cambridge Satchel’s ethical image increases in fashion sector
                                                                                                      • Figure 22: Top ranking of brands in the fashion sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                    • Nike and adidas boost ethical associations
                                                                                                      • Figure 23: adidas x Parley ocean plastic trainers, November 2016
                                                                                                  • Financial Services

                                                                                                    • Chance for financial services brands to fill ethical void
                                                                                                      • Figure 24: Top ranking of brands in the financial services sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                    • Mainstream bank brands signify improving perceptions
                                                                                                    • Food

                                                                                                      • Health and natural perceptions influential on food sector
                                                                                                        • Figure 25: Top ranking of brands in the food sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                      • Green & Black’s launches first non-Fairtrade bar
                                                                                                        • Catering for minority eating groups
                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy ice cream, July 2017
                                                                                                      • Foodservice

                                                                                                        • Pret’s vegetarian range goes from strength to strength in foodservice
                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Top ranking of brands in the foodservice sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                        • Pret’s increased range of vegetarian options reflects growing consumer interest
                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Reasons why consumers have/would be interested in limiting/reducing the amount of red meat/poultry they eat and reasons for meat avoidance, March 2017
                                                                                                        • Shift in eating habits offers opportunity for foodservice brands
                                                                                                        • Household Care

                                                                                                          • Ecover sets the bar in household care sector
                                                                                                            • Figure 29: Top ranking of brands in the household care sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                          • Driving awareness of industry initiatives may benefit brands
                                                                                                          • Media

                                                                                                            • Good Housekeeping Institute helps promote print media-leading score
                                                                                                              • Figure 30: Top ranking of brands in the media sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                            • Media still suffering from phone hacking
                                                                                                              • Newspaper brands can seek to improve industry standards
                                                                                                              • Retail

                                                                                                                • Retailers influenced by products they sell
                                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Top ranking of brands in the retail sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                • Britishness likely to boost ethical image of retailers
                                                                                                                  • Figure 32: The Co-operative’s 100% British fresh meat, May 2017
                                                                                                                • Online fashion brands benefit from youthful focus
                                                                                                                  • Tesco ends sale of 5p bags
                                                                                                                  • Technology Products

                                                                                                                    • Stable image for technology product brands
                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Top ranking of brands in the technology product sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                    • Potential for increased focus on refurbished products
                                                                                                                    • Technology Service Providers

                                                                                                                      • Mobile networks improve ethical perception in service provider sector
                                                                                                                        • Figure 34: Top ranking of brands in the technology service provider sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                      • The run-up to data roaming may have boosted perceptions
                                                                                                                        • Lower ethical standards in tech service may present opportunity
                                                                                                                        • Travel

                                                                                                                          • The Co-operative Travel maintains ethical image
                                                                                                                            • Premium airlines benefit from halo effect
                                                                                                                              • Figure 35: Top ranking of brands in the travel sector, by agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                            • Online travel aggregators benefit from an altruistic purpose
                                                                                                                            • Cross-category Review – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                              • BPC brands most likely to be considered ethical
                                                                                                                                • Little difference between gender overall
                                                                                                                                  • 16-34s are more likely to describe brands as ethical
                                                                                                                                    • High income groups see brands as more ethical
                                                                                                                                      • Improving standards across the board
                                                                                                                                      • Sector Comparison

                                                                                                                                        • BPC brands most likely to be considered ethical
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by sector, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                        • FMCG brands find it easier to prove ethical credentials
                                                                                                                                          • Media brands also most likely to be considered unethical
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Average agreement with “unethical” across brands, by sector, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                        • Gender and Ethics

                                                                                                                                          • Little difference between genders
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 38: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by gender, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                          • More experience of brands = more favourable image
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 39: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by sector, by gender, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                          • Brands with a male bias
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 40: Brands with the largest male bias in agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                          • Brands with a female bias
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Brands with the largest female bias in agreement with “ethical”, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                        • Age and Ethics

                                                                                                                                          • 16-34s more likely to describe brands as ethical
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 42: Average agreement with “ethical” across all brands, by age, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                          • Younger groups show favourability towards brands
                                                                                                                                            • Older groups hold brands to more stringent standards
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Top-scoring ethical company indicators, by age, May 2015
                                                                                                                                            • Similar story across sectors
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by sector, by age, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                            • The risk of losing the youth vote
                                                                                                                                              • Only eight exceptions to youthful bias
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 45: Brands not considered more ethical, by 16-44s compared to over-45s, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                              • Usage may be a defining factor…
                                                                                                                                                • …in conjunction with the perception of being natural
                                                                                                                                                • Household Income and Ethics

                                                                                                                                                  • High income groups see brands as more ethical
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by household income, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                                  • Exposure to finance and fashion brands may influence ethical profile
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Average agreement with “ethical” across brands, by sector, by household income, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                                  • Higher incomes give people the chance to act on their ethics
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Usage of the brands with the highest agreement with “ethical”, by household income, January 2015-June 2017
                                                                                                                                                • Shifts in Ethical Perceptions

                                                                                                                                                  • Improving standards across the board
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Average ethical score for brands covered in 2012-13 and 2016-17, January 2012-June 2017
                                                                                                                                                  • Time as a healer: financial services brands
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 50: Agreement with “ethical” for selected financial services brands, 2012/13 and 2016/17
                                                                                                                                                  • Lifting in standards in the financial services industry could squeeze out ethical specialists
                                                                                                                                                    • Regulation as a driver of change: food and drink brands
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 51: HM Treasury confirmation of sugar levies on soft drinks companies, March 2017
                                                                                                                                                    • For the greater good: alcoholic drinks brands
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 52: Heineken Moderate Drinkers Wanted campaign, 2016
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 53: Agreement with “ethical” for selected alcoholic drink brands, 2012 and 2016
                                                                                                                                                    • Adjusting menus: driving ethicality in foodservice
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Agreement with “ethical” for selected foodservice brands, 2012/13 and 2016/17
                                                                                                                                                    • Increasing usage increases favourability
                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Brands Covered

                                                                                                                                                          Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                          To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                                                          The Ethical Brand - UK - August 2017

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