One in three Brits believe climate change 'is largely solvable with effort from everyone'


Almost a third of British shoppers are worried that we will be unable to reverse the impact of climate change, whatever we do, according to a recent poll by food and grocery retail analysts IGD. The research, conducted among 1,091 shoppers in August 2009, found that only 14% are not convinced that the climate is changing at all and that 19% suspect climate change will not turn out to be too big a problem. However, although 32% believe climate change is largely solvable with effort from everyone, although 30% believe it is already irreversible. Shoppers do not yet feel they can make a sustained difference through their shopping choices: only 23% felt they can positively influence the environment, compared with 11% for global warming.

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Co-op Bank's Ethical Consumerism Report


Annual report into green spending.

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Interest outstrips awareness for ethical financial products


44% of the British public are interested in finding out about the ethical credentials of the next financial product or service that they buy, according to the National Online Consumer Survey, although almost half of these respondents could name or describe in detail any ethical financial products or services. The study, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of non-profit research organisation EIRIS, found that three-quarters of those interested in finding out more about the ethical credentials of a financial product or service said they are likely to take this into consideration when next buying a financial product or service. On a scale of 1-10' (with 1 being low priority and 10 high priority), issues emerging as the highest priority (scoring 7-10) were protecting human rights (67%), investing in fair trade (66%), protecting the environment (62%), avoiding arms manufacturers (61%) and tackling climate change (59%). A smaller proportion prioritised the avoidance of companies involved in the manufacturing of alcohol (22%), tobacco (37%) and gambling (38%).

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Environmental issues factored in to hotel choice and behaviour


A third (29%) of European consumers would choose a known ‘eco-friendly’ hotel if it was offered by a popular online booking system. In a survey by Samsung of 5,000 consumers across Europe, nearly two thirds (65%) said that all hotels should install low flow toilets designed to save water, while over half (54%) said sustainable energy sources, such as wind, solar or hydro-electric power, should be used.  Almost half (48%) said hotels should use more efficient electrical appliances, like flat screen energy efficient TVs.  The demand for green credentials echoes consumers' self-reported behaviour in hotels. 76% said they were as conscious or more conscious of the impact they have on the environment when staying in hotels compared with their behaviour at home, and take measures to reduce their environmental impact: 88% switch off the lights when they leave their hotel room, 63% reuse towels more than once and 59% still switch electrical equipment off at the base (often without checking whether it has an energy saving mode).

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Commitment to ethical consumption remains strong despite reluctance to pay higher prices


Consumers are now less likely to pay a premium for goods that are produced more sustainably or ethically, according to a report on shoppers' attitudes.  In a survey of 1,030 adults in July, one in nine said they could no longer afford to pay a premium for ethical or environmentally friendly products, while 19% said they were not in a financial position to think about such issues.  However, the research from Mintel also found a strong commitment to ethical and environmental issues among consumers, with 97% of adults claiming to have adopted at least one of the "more green" types of behaviour included in the survey, including re-using bags and switching to low-energy light bulbs.  Practices vary by gender and age, with older people (over 80%) embracing reusable bags, compared with 59% of pre-family adults, and 82% of women adopting reusable bags compared to 65% of men.

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Shoppers will continue to be careful after recession


More than half (54%) of shoppers say they will be more careful about spending money in the future than they are currently, regardless of economic recovery, according to research published by IGD.  Only 5% predict that they will be more frivolous, while 39% do not think they will change.  Looking beyond the recession, when asked how they anticipated grocery shopping in 2012, 29% said they would shop at discounters more (and 5% say less), 26% would shop more at farmers’ markets and 16% would shop more at neighbourhood stores.  By 2012 nearly a fifth (37%) of shoppers expect to be buying more local and regional food, while 34% will be looking for more food that meets high animal welfare standards and 31% expect to buy more Fairtrade products. Shoppers are showing greater support for all three of these areas than at the same time last year.

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British shoppers want to know more about workers in poorer countries


Despite the tough economic conditions at home, British shoppers are showing increasing concern over the welfare of people producing their food and groceries in developing countries.  Research released by IGD shows that 52% of shoppers feel that the pay and conditions of people producing their groceries in poorer countries is an important consideration, 54% want to know more about these pay and conditions and a further 19% would like more information to be made available for others to scrutinise.  59% claim to be active supporters of Fairtrade, buying products at least occasionally, although only 9% claim specifically to choose stores with a wide range of Fairtrade products, and always buy Fairtrade when possible.

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Recession pros and cons for ethical retailers


Record levels of savings inflow at the Ecology Building Society, increased mail order business for organic wine specialist Vintage Roots and more time to respond to customers needs and plan for the future are just a few of the changes for members of the Real Green Retail Group looking at the sunnier side of the recession. Hopes are high for a strong recovery within the sector and an increase in concious consumerism in response to the economic downturn.

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UK consumers under-informed regarding 'green' credentials of home electronics products


New research from Sony UK shows that consumer awareness of the energy efficiency of home entertainment products (43%) still lags significantly behind that of kitchen appliances (71%), and a considerable majority of recent home entertainment product purchasers (63%) were not aware of the ‘green’ credentials of electrical products.  The research also showed enthusiasm among consumers for energy-efficient products: 62% of those surveyed consider that choosing more energy efficient products is a good way to save money, and some green-minded consumers say they would pay up to 10% more for an energy efficient television. 49% of respondents think that retailers should drop the least energy efficient products from their ranges, supporting the view that consumers want manufacturers to prove their eco credentials, not just talk about them.

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Cooperatives more trusted than shareholder companies


Consumers see an “accountability gap” between those responsible for business ethics and their ability to deliver.  According to the report ‘What Assures Consumers in an Economic Downturn: Reviewing the agenda in the global economic crisis’.  56% say businesses themselves must be accountable for their own behaviour, but only 6% of people trust them to do so.  Six in ten people see industry regulators as responsible for ensuring businesses behave ethically, only two in ten think they are up to the job.  When measuring which organisations consumers trust, the research found that consumer watchdogs, NGOs and co-operatives registered the highest levels of trust, while PLCs, shareholders and trade bodies registered the lowest trust.

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Shoppers expect companies to act responsibly

In a poll of 14,500 people in 15 countries, more than half said they were "active ethical consumers", characterized in the survey by their higher expectations of industry and business's environmental, economic and social responsibilities of industry. With 4 out of 5 people recognising the Fairtrade mark, the UK came out top for awareness levels.

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Ethical clothing sales soar

Sales of ethical clothing in the UK have more than quadrupled in the last 5 years according to a report by Mintel, which claims the market was worth £175m in 2009. It suggests that due to buyers “emotional attachment” to ethical practises, future growth prospects for the sector look good with the recession causing only very muted effects. However consumer research by Mintel showed that more than a third (35%) of Brits had no interest in ethical clothing; put off by price, lack of availability and doubts over the veracity of labelling.

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Economic downturn provides opportunity for ethical businesses


Consumer trust in PLCs is down whilst co-operatives are more trustworthy according to research commissioned by AccountAbility. 30% of those interviewed always tried to buy products and services from companies that behave responsibly. 45% were prepared to boycott products made by companies they do not trust and 30% felt they could influence the way a compnay behaves through their purchasing decisions.

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Support for Fairtrade sky high among young people


A survey of over a 1000 14-25 year olds suggested two thirds of young people think companies should be 100% Fairtrade, meaning they believe that Fairtrade workers should own the companies that sell their products. The research carried out by People and Planet over Fairtrade Fortnight also revealed that over 80% of those questioned thought that large companies, specifically Nestlé and Cadburys should make all their products Fairtrade and 82% felt that buying Fairtrade produce sent an active political message to the Government that other forms of trade are unfair.






Economic crisis turns UK customers to ethical banking, savings and investments


Research conducted by GfK NOP on behalf of Triodos Bank found that 55% of consumers are more likely to choose to save with an ethical bank than a year ago.  Of the 998 respondants 92% wanted banks to have proper ethical values and 64% were more worried about what the bank did with their money than the interest rate. The survey linked unscrupulous banking practices with the recession; 78% believe the unethical behaviour of banks triggered the recession and nearly half of consumers (49%) now think that ethical banks are a safer bet than mainstream banks. In 2008 the number of Triodos customers increased by 25% and savings held in the UK by the bank increased by £39m as 69% of those surveyed admitted they wanted to save more.

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Shoppers are not leaving their ethical concerns at home when they go food shopping


International food and grocery expert IGD’s shopper trends report shows continued growth in ethical shopping in spite of the recession. Of the 1051 shoppers interviewed a quarter had bought foods that support Fairtrade in the last month, up from only 9% in 2006. Increases were also seen in the number of shoppers who regarded country of origin as important from 16% in 2006 to 23% and those who wanted to know about the standards of animal welfare, which has doubled from 10% in 2006 to 20%. The only decline within the sector was seen in organic food; only 19% of shoppers said they were buying organic food compared to 23% in 2006 however Chief Executive of IGD, Joanne Denney-Finch believed this was down to a swing towards other ethical options and that consumers “are not about to abandon their tastes, habits and beliefs that have been built up over the last decade or more.”

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Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies


According to research published by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in its report 'Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies,' more shoppers systematically purchased green products in 2008 than in 2007. In a survey of 9,000 adults in nine countries, some 34% of Europeans (up 2% from 2007) said they would continue to look for and purchase green products, while 32% of US consumers said the same. The findings suggest consumers have not abandoned their ethical principles as their financial woes have increased.

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Growth in ethical consumerism to slow


A new report by Key Note on green and ethical consumerism noted that ethical consumerism in the UK was worth £35.4m in 2007 with the sectors of food, drink and ethical finance experiencing the strongest growth between 2005 and 2007. They forecasted that growth in the value of the sector would slow between 2008 and 2012 due to a sluggish economy and the increased importance of price as a factor amongst consumers but that it should pick up again in 2011 and 2012 as the economy becomes more favorable.

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