Ethical shopping

September 10, 2010, 11:09 PM GMT+0

Many UK consumers would prefer to shop at stores with reputable ethics records that exhibit corporate social responsibility, but a much smaller number buy exclusively from companies whose ethics they agree with, says a recent report by YouGov SixthSense into the ethical shopping practices of UK consumers.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept that seeks to bring business and manufacturing practices into line with widely accepted ethical standards so that companies’ business practices are compatible with the rights and wellbeing of all members of the public sphere.

Half of UK consumers say that they would like to buy from companies that have a strong CSR programme in place, yet, in a blow to rights watchdogs and charities that seek to ensure CSR is widely implemented, 61% of consumers say they hear a lot about the concept but ‘nothing of any substance’.

Similarly, while 7 out of 10 shoppers say they like shopping with companies who ‘visibly give something back to society’ and 81% of UK consumers say that they do not like buying products from companies they ‘disapprove of’, only 30% say they manage to buy solely from companies that conform to their ethical standards.

Commenting on the report findings, James McCoy, Research Director for YouGov SixthSense explains that cost can be the stumbling block over which companies fall in delivering what could satisfy a seemingly-popular consumer demand. ‘Openly submitting to CSR norms can only help a company’s reputation, but that high esteem does not transpose easily into financial rewards or a loyal consumer base, especially in a recessionary period.’ He continued, ‘Awareness and consumption of Fairtrade products is high but only because Fairtrade practices have become modus operandi without unduly raising the cost of the product.’

More information on YouGov SixthSense retail reports