October 31, 2019 /Experience

Engaged Ethics

Around the world, people are in protest. Not satisfied by the current state of affairs, the public is advocating, protesting and adjusting their spending habits to align with causes they believe in. 

This time last year we identified a new tribe – The Revolutionary Consumera consumer who values brands that build relationships based on their unique identity and empowering social change. This year we have seen this group expand to incorporate the mass populous, with millions of people in both the UK, America and around the world showing up for environmental and political protests, demanding brands and governments alike make significant changes. 

This trend will continue into the new year as consumers start to actively opt for brands that value an ethical approach. Values will become key purchase drivers, in turn encouraging businesses to incorporate eco-friendly practices, as two-thirds of consumers believing that brands that make a public promise to be sustainable are more trustworthy.

We will start to see companies vocalise their steps to becoming more sustainable. Waitrose and Sainsbury’s trial plastic-less practices, while stores like The Body Shop begin to roll out refillable shampoo concepts across Britain. Brands who adapt to this new climate the fastest are sure to win the loyalty and trust of consumers, becoming go-to for sustainable practices. 

Future tech will be incorporated into retail scapes to build both advocacy and accountability into the consumer’s decision-making process. Apps like CoGo are beginning to inform customers about the underlying integrity of companies, based on criteria like whether they are committed to reducing waste, paying a living wage, are carbon-conscious and support charities… just to name a few. 

Online retailer, Feel Unique, is using new technology to improve product ingredient transparency. Partnering with Evrelab, the ‘Beauty Decoded’ feature will educate consumers about the ingredients that go into products. With 40% of consumers actively looking for ethical and sustainable brands before or during shopping, this will boost the brand’s credibility and give consumers real information about the ingredients that go into products. 

This trend will encompass more than just sustainability, as people are actively looking at ways to be more conscientious in all areas of life. Whether it’s to do with mental health, wellness, sobriety or inclusivity, consumers are looking for brands to be multi-dimensional. 

People are no longer looking for perfection but for honesty. Victoria Beckham’s beauty line launch recently featured the hashtag #NotPerfect, in reference to celebrating imperfect beauty but also to be honest on the way to being a more conscious and ethical company. This is a reflection of the changing environment within the retail industry – brands should be trying to capture genuine connection based on, rather than curated promises that can’t be sustained.

“We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

Zero-Waste Chef, Anne-Marie Bonneau

Key Insights

  • Brands should help consumers consider the products and services they use, while also gauging the validity of information they consume. 
  • Companies should consider their ethics from all standpoints – sustainability, diversity and fair working conditions are just a few of the elements being scrutinised by the public. 
  • Brands are becoming guides, with consumers relying on them for information about how to be more sustainable and ethical in their shopping habits.

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