Ethical market will grow despite economic worries, Co-op report

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fair trade

‘Values’ will not necessarily be sacrificed for ‘value’ when it comes to ethical purchasing in an economic downturn, according to a recent Co-op report.

The recent green spending report from the Co-operative Bank has concluded that despite the first shakes of the financial crises being felt last year, ethical spending still grew in 2007.

Fifteen percent growth

According to the figures the ethical market in the UK was worth ₤35.5bn in 2007, up 15 per cent from last year’s ₤31bn.

Ethical cosmetics purchases grew slightly higher than the market average, reporting 16 percent growth with the market value reaching ₤448m in 2007.

“As the UK economy enters an economic downturn, many commentators are predicting that consumers will switch from ‘values’ to ‘value’,”​ said the Co-Operative Bank’s Barry Clavin.

Although Clavin concedes that the UK’s ethical market is small, he believes 2007’s figures suggest the sector will not suffer as the pessimists predict.

Fairtrade looks to be a winner

The emotional attachment that some consumers have formed with certain ethical choices is likely to fuel continuing purchases, according to the report.

This will work in particular when there is not a large premium to be paid for the ethical choice, for example with fair trade products.

Another increasingly important factor behind the growth of ethical spending in other sectors is government legislation, the report highlighted.

“For some time now we have argued that only through legislation will we secure the necessary changes to deliver mass market, low carbon lifestyles. Government intervention, which promotes energy efficient products such as boilers, white goods and more recently lightbulbs, is underpinning these markets ensuring that they continue to grow,”​ said the Co-operative Bank’s managing director of retail Dick Parkhouse.

For the purposes of the report, the Co-operative Bank defined ethical consumerism as the allocation of funds where the choice has been informed by a particular issue, for example human rights, social issues or the environment.

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