Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Interest in ethical shopping falls as recession bites

December 2009

Support for ethical consumerism has declined in the UK since the start of the recession, according to new market research conducted by Ipsos MORI.
The figures show interest in ethical consumption among British shoppers has fallen back to 1997 levels, and that only around a quarter of the British public now think it is very important that a company shows a high degree of social responsibility, compared to nearly half in 2008.

Though a majority still see ethical purchasing as important to some extent, over a fifth attach little or no importance to the issue of a brand’s CSR credentials.  

However, according to another Ipsos survey, companies are expected to continue to invest in corporate responsibility. Asked whether they thought CSR will survive the economic climate, 85 per cent of communications professionals said firms are still committed to it.

Milorad Ajder of Ipsos MORI said: ‘Consumers are, of course, looking to do more with less, just like companies. This has led to a dilution of corporate responsibility in their purchasing behaviour as people often equate ethical purchasing with premium prices.

‘Although some consumers may have been distracted from ethical purchasing concerns while they struggle to cope with the recession, the long-term pressures on companies to act responsibly remain,’ Ajder said. ‘Those companies best-placed to capitalise on the recovery will be those which are seen to have stood by their principles during the tough times, emerging with their reputations intact.’

Ipsos MORI | UK & NI Ireland | Consumer attitudes

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