Two new surveys have revealed that consumers are demanding more ethical and eco credentials from the brands they are buying.

In research from Empathy.co into online shopping behaviour and ethics, over a third (35%) of UK online consumers said they will only associate with ‘responsible’ brands – those that treat staff fairly, source goods ethically and don’t misuse consumer data.

The Censuswide survey of 4,000 online shoppers also found that 47% prefer to shop with brands they trust, and 22% will pay more for these; 31% prefer to associate with brands that are green and use ecological packaging in their deliveries; and 37% actively try to order locally or nationally to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The appetite for ethics and responsibility in online brands is clearly surging, and competition is fierce when customers have a plethora of options, should they realize that their ‘favourite’ brand is not treating staff fairly, sourcing goods responsibly or utilizing customer data ethically,” comments Angel Maldonado, founder and CEO of the search and discovery platform. “To convey trustworthiness, businesses need to adopt a transparent approach to their operations and communicate these intentions in every aspect of what they do.”

In another survey of 2,000 UK adults by media agency Hearts & Science through YouGov, over half of respondents (52%) said they make purchasing decisions based on a brand’s sustainable/eco-friendly credentials, rising to 62% for food and drink and 65% for household essentials.

Brands are having to be smarter about demonstrating their concern for the environment and can no longer get away with paying lip service

In addition, 21% say they stopped buying a brand/product due to concerns over its environmental impact, rising to 33% when it came to household essentials and 36% for food and drink. While 22% of consumers said they regularly choose eco-friendly products over less sustainable equivalents, 48% said they do so sometimes.

The study also found that people are taking steps to be more eco-friendly in how they shop, with 55% using their local high street to avoid transport emissions, and 9% shopping at zero-waste/refill stores.

“UK shoppers are already voting with their wallets when it comes to eco-friendly products,” explains Simon Carr, Hearts & Science chief strategy officer. “It’s not just that they’ll choose brands that have the best green credentials, but they’ll actively stop buying those that don’t.

“Brands are having to be smarter about demonstrating their concern for the environment and can no longer get away with paying lip service. Savvy consumers want to see evidence that their shopping habits aren’t hurting the world around them, or they’ll go elsewhere.

“Going green doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing profits for the planet. It isn’t necessary to alienate any customers that may not share your views on sustainability. Strategies to ‘normalize’ green purchasing behaviours can be as simple as making sustainable options the default or putting a premium on those with more packaging. Setting a green agenda doesn’t have to be a great leap when small nudges can achieve just as much.”

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