Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2013
The annual Ethical Consumer Markets Report reveals that demand for ethical consumer goods and services continues to defy recessionary pressures and grew by more than 12% in 2012 whilst the mainstream UK economy grew by just 0.2%.
Total ethical spending in the UK is now worth £54 billion, an amount greater than that spent on both cigarettes and alcohol.
The Ethical Consumer Markets Report has been acting as an important barometer of green spending since 1999 by tracking sales data across a wide range of consumer sectors from food to fashion.
Significant contributors to this story of continuing strong sales has been the ethical food and drink sector which grew by 36% in 2012 and is now worth over £10 billion.
Stand-out performances came from Rainforest Alliance certified goods which grew by 47% as a result of more certified products being rolled out. In addition the RSPCA's Freedom Food range of products grew by 37%.
Similar levels of strong growth were found in the sales of micro-generation renewable energy systems which grew by 50% and can attributed to generous government incentives. Similar government fiscal support can also account for the spectacular growth of 157% in the sales of car tax Band A vehicles.
Rob Harrison, a director at Ethical Consumer magazine which compiled the report said:
“The annual Ethical Consumer Markets Reports have shown significant growth each year since the onset of the recession. This clearly demonstrates that the trend towards ethical buying is not a luxury which consumers choose to drop when the going gets tough, but is an established and increasingly important consumer sector.”
The green consumer market continues to expand into new markets with the 2012 Ethical Consumer Markets Report including two new product areas of ethical jewellery and 'co-consumption'.
Fairtrade certified gold is beginning to make an impact in the jewellery market whilst the increasingly popular practice of co-consumption where consumers share goods rather than buying them outright now has a number of high-profile players including London's Boris Bikes.
Whilst ethical markets still represent only around 6% of overall UK consumer spending, pressure from ethically-motivated consumers is resulting in the mainstreaming of a number of key consumer goods.
Rob Harrison added that:
“In some markets where ethical purchasing has been established for many years such as bananas, coffee and free-range eggs, a dominant market-share for ethical products is now on the horizon.”
As part of the Ethical Consumer Markets Report a YouGov poll asked consumers whether they were currently boycotting any company or product and the reason for their boycotting.
In 2012 tax avoidance by companies grew to become the second most cited reason for boycotting after human rights.
Download the full report