Ethics are as important as price for consumers

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Body shop Ethics

The ethics of a brand are as important as the price when making purchasing decisions, according to a recent survey by The Body Shop.

Even though the current economic climate may be pushing consumers to cut down on their expenditure, the ethical reputation of a company remains as important as the price in North America, suggests the survey.

A third of consumers purchase ethically

Over 9,600 consumers across Canada and the US were questioned on their purchasing habits throughout July, and 34 per cent said their purchases were based on the ethical reputation of a company.

A marginally higher 35 per cent said they purchased based on the price and value of the product.

“I find it particularly interesting that even though we are in an economic recession people view the ethics of company as nearly as important as price,”​ The Body Shop’s director of brand and values initiative Shelley Simmons told

Simmons highlighted another intriguing finding from the survey that she felt attested to the increasingly mainstream status of the ethical trend: the similarity of answers between the US and Canada.

“When we set out we thought the percentages would be higher in Canada than in North America, as ethical behavior has been prevalent there for longer,” ​she said.

“In reality the results varied only very slightly between the two regions suggesting it is a widespread North American trend.”

However, a weakness of this type of consumer survey is that they record buyer’s intentions rather than their actions.

The Body Shop attempted to solve this by asking how often consumers actually made purchasing decisions based on ethical values, and according to the results 40 per cent of those polled made such decisions weekly.

For Simmons, this percentage could be even higher if consumers had more information readily available, and this was the main driver behind the company’s new internet initiative the Together and Fair Pledge.

Share ethical purchasing ideas on Facebook

The Body Shop will launch the pledge via the social networking site Facebook in early September with the aim of making it easier for consumers to make ethical purchasing decisions.

On signing the pledge individuals agree to tell at least one other person about a new ethical product or service they have discovered each week.

The pledge is based on the idea that the modern consumer may not have the time to research a company’s ethical profile but is nevertheless willing and interested in purchasing ethically.

In addition, Simmons noted that ethical purchasing is open to everyone even those not overtly political. We all shop, she observed, so we can all make a difference through ethical purchasing.

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