Do consumers really care about ethics?
It’s a question I’ve been asked from time to time, along with the important follow up question; Do they care enough for it to affect their buying behaviour? Westen MacIntosh, CMO of Virtue, the digital platform for ethical eCommerce stores, has spent a large chunk of his ESG focussed career grappling with this question.
I asked Westen a number of questions along these lines and here were his encouraging responses:
Q: Do people really care more about ethics now than they used to?
Yes, in a 2022 global IBM report, purpose and values (of the business they are buying from) were the top buying motive of shoppers and the fastest growing motive vs pre-pandemic.
Q. Does the power of this motivation differ across generations?
Yes, Gen Z more so than Millennials and likewise, Millennials more so than Baby Boomers. In fact, a recent report from Nielsen showed that 75% of younger generations vs 51% of Baby Boomers are willing to spend more on sustainable products.
Q. What do you attribute these changes and differences to?
Consumers care more now because they can. It’s easier to research everything about a product or brand online and researching their ethics and purpose are now part of that process.
Q. Your tool helps businesses to assign a visible contribution to a charity via the online purchase process. Have your clients faced any negativity or claims of ‘green/causewashing’ around this?
Far from it. There are definitely some price-sensitive consumers who would rather save the money than see it go to a cause, but the overwhelming majority love it when a business chooses to give back.
Q. Isn’t it more important for brands to focus on sustainability rather than charities?
Sustainability is fast becoming the hygiene factor that any respectable business needs to get their house in order around. Cause led impacts take things a step further and help you align your brand and products with other things people care about.