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The Ethical Consumer - UK - July 2015

“For today’s consumers there is a sense that companies are inherently immoral, unless they can demonstrate that’s not the case. The most effective way of asserting CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) credentials is not via annual company reports, but via product packaging and television, which will have the most direct impact on people’s purchasing decisions.”
– Jack Duckett, Consumer Lifestyles Analyst

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Communicating ethics to different generations
  • Companies need to improve visibility of their CSR
  • If handled properly, bad publicity can be good for business

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Executive Summary

        • Financial responsibility proves top ethical consideration
          • Figure 1: Ethical company indicators, May 2015
        • Over half of all adults think ethically when buying food and drink
          • Figure 2: Ethical consideration taken into account, by retail sector, May 2015
        • Unethical behaviour more likely to grab people’s attention
          • Figure 3: Sources of information about companies’ ethical initiatives and unethical behaviour, May 2015
        • People are willing to punish companies for bad behaviour
          • Figure 4: Selected attitudes towards brand and corporate ethics, May 2015
        • What we think
        • Issues and Insights

          • Communicating ethics to different generations
            • The facts
              • The implications
                • Companies need to improve visibility of their CSR
                  • The facts
                    • The implications
                      • If handled properly, bad publicity can be good for business
                        • The facts
                          • The implications
                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                            • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle still a pertinent dictum
                              • Creating a more sustainable future
                                • Obesity = an expanding target
                                  • The importance of mental health initiatives
                                    • Not all publicity is good
                                      • Gender equality remains on the corporate ‘to-do’ list
                                      • Drivers of CSR and Corporate Initiatives – The Environment

                                        • Food and drink waste
                                          • Figure 5: Amount of food wasted in the UK annually (million tonnes), by sector, 2014
                                        • Recycling has stalled
                                          • Figure 6: Household waste recycling rate in England, 2000/01-2013/14
                                          • Figure 7: Screenshot from TerraCycle website, June 2015
                                        • Sustainable energy and carbon footprint
                                          • Figure 8: Greenhouse gas emissions associated with UK consumption, 1997-2012
                                          • Figure 9: Screenshot Virgin Atlantic Carbon Offsetting Scheme site, June 2015
                                        • Social media makes carbon offsetting fun
                                          • Figure 10: Screenshot from Stand for Trees website, June 2015
                                      • Drivers of CSR and Corporate Initiatives – Consumer Health

                                        • Obesity costing the taxpayer £47 billion a year
                                            • Figure 11: Obesity prevalence of adults in England, by gender, 1993-2013
                                          • The war on sugar
                                              • Figure 12: Share of product launches in the UK food and non-alcoholic drinks market carrying a low/no/reduced sugar claim, by super category, 2010-15
                                            • Encouraging more active lifestyles
                                              • Figure 13: Adults meeting the physical activity recommendations, by age and gender, England 2012
                                            • Addressing mental health
                                            • Drivers of CSR and Corporate Initiatives – Social Issues

                                              • Consumers scrutinise corporate taxes
                                                • Dhaka disaster sparks awareness of exploitative labour practices
                                                  • Gender equality in the workplace
                                                    • Figure 14: UK median hourly earnings (£), by gender, 1997-2014
                                                  • Government plans volunteering initiative
                                                    • Ageing society presents new CSR opportunities
                                                      • Figure 15: Trends in the number of over-65s in the UK, and as a proportion of the UK population, 2009-19
                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                    • Financial responsibility proves top ethical consideration
                                                      • Ethical definitions differ depending on age
                                                        • Animal welfare tops CSR considerations
                                                          • Rise in number of consumers considering ethical labour practices
                                                            • Consumers most ethical when buying FMCG goods
                                                              • Bad news travels fast…
                                                                • ...especially with the help of social media
                                                                  • Consumers remain sceptical about genuineness of CSR
                                                                    • People are willing to punish companies for behaving badly
                                                                    • What Makes a Company Ethical?

                                                                      • Financial responsibility proves top ethical consideration
                                                                        • Figure 16: Ethical company indicators, May 2015
                                                                      • Older people more likely to be swayed by environmental initiatives…
                                                                        • Figure 17: Selected ethical company indicators, by age, May 2015
                                                                      • …whilst younger adults prove more focused on charity
                                                                        • Figure 18: Ethical company indicators, by age, May 2015
                                                                    • Ethical Considerations When Shopping

                                                                      • Rise in interest in animal welfare
                                                                        • Figure 19: Ethical factors considered when shopping, December 2013 and May 2015
                                                                      • Fairtrade label remains relevant
                                                                        • Older people drive rise in ethical labour considerations
                                                                          • Figure 20: % point change in the proportion of adults that are influenced to buy products “Made by a company with ethical labour practices”, by age, December 2013-May 2015
                                                                        • Reinvigorating interest in Made in Britain claims
                                                                          • Figure 21: Made in Britain logo, June 2015
                                                                        • Rise in proportion of adults with no ethical considerations
                                                                            • Figure 22: Number of green factors considered when shopping, December 2013 and May 2015
                                                                        • Does CSR Matter?

                                                                          • Consumers most ethical when buying FMCG goods
                                                                            • Figure 23: Ethical consideration taken into account, by retail sector, May 2015
                                                                          • Over half of all adults think ethically when buying food and drink
                                                                            • Figure 24: Selected ethical considerations taken into account, all vs those that consider corporate ethics when buying food and drink (for in-home consumption), May 2015
                                                                          • Ethical considerations low when purchasing technology products
                                                                            • Financial services companies scrutinised over tax performance
                                                                              • Figure 25: Ethical company indicators, by those that consider how ethical a brand is before buying financial services products, May 2015
                                                                            • CSR considerations differ between genders
                                                                              • Figure 26: Ethical considerations taken into account, by retail sector, by gender, May 2015
                                                                          • Sources of Information for Companies’ Behaviour

                                                                            • Guilty until proven innocent
                                                                              • Figure 27: Screenshot of a Google search with keywords ‘unethical behaviour’, June 2015
                                                                            • Unethical behaviour makes a big impression
                                                                                • Figure 28: Sources of information about companies’ ethical initiatives and unethical behaviour, May 2015
                                                                              • Social media resonates with Millennials
                                                                                • Figure 29: Social media as a source of information about ethical initiatives and unethical behaviour, by age, May 2015
                                                                              • Companies operating in a glass house
                                                                                • Figure 30: Screenshot of Twitter responses to an invitation by British Gas to its users to ask the company about price rises, June 2015
                                                                                • Figure 31: Screenshot of a Twitter conversation between a Sainsbury’s customer and the supermarket, June 2015
                                                                              • Product packaging
                                                                                • Figure 32: New product launches, by selected ethical and environmental claims, UK, July 2014-June 2015 and July 2013-June 2014
                                                                            • Attitudes towards Corporate Ethics

                                                                              • Buying ethical is not as straightforward as it may seem
                                                                                  • Figure 33: Selected attitudes towards corporate ethics, May 2015
                                                                                • Ethics matter to Millennials
                                                                                  • Figure 34: Selected attitudes towards corporate ethics, by generations, May 2015
                                                                                • People are willing to punish companies for bad behaviour
                                                                                  • Scepticism about CSR is still rife
                                                                                    • Figure 35: Selected attitudes towards corporate ethics, May 2015
                                                                                • Ethical Typologies

                                                                                    • Figure 36: Ethical consumer segmentation, May 2015
                                                                                  • The Super Ethical (21%)
                                                                                    • Who are they?
                                                                                      • Figure 37: Agreement with the statement “I don’t generally base my purchasing decision on corporate ethics”, by ethical consumer typologies, May 2015
                                                                                    • Marketing strategies
                                                                                      • Ethical in Principle (32%)
                                                                                        • Who are they?
                                                                                          • Figure 38: Agreement with the statement “People should boycott companies that act unethically”, by ethical consumer typologies, May 2015
                                                                                        • Marketing strategies
                                                                                          • The Sceptics (22%)
                                                                                            • Who are they?
                                                                                              • Figure 39: Agreement with the statement “Companies are only ethical when it benefits them”, by ethical consumer typologies, May 2015
                                                                                            • Marketing strategies
                                                                                              • The Indifferents (25%)
                                                                                                • Who are they?
                                                                                                  • Marketing strategies
                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                    • Definitions
                                                                                                      • Generations
                                                                                                        • Data sources
                                                                                                          • Abbreviations

                                                                                                          Companies Covered

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

                                                                                                          The Ethical Consumer - UK - July 2015

                                                                                                          US $2,727.29 (Excl.Tax)