Australians are now more likely to favour ethical brands than in the past

Australians are increasingly favouring ethical brands, with more than three quarters of respondents to a Havas PR study showing some conscientious consumption. In the past, almost three fifths of respondents reported failing to act conscientiously.


Havas PR describes its findings as representative of a “more conscientious spirit” which it terms “conscientious capitalism”.

“It’s about brands doing what’s right, combining profit and conscience, simply because it is the right thing to do rather than just another clever way to create photo and branding opportunities,” the report explains.

The global study’s local component surveyed 500 Australian over-18s, half male and half female.

The shift towards increased conscientious consumption behaviour was even larger in desired and anticipated future behaviours.

Ethical issues important to many individual Australians on some level relate to the environment as well as fair trade, equal opportunity, social justice, conflict sourcing, tourism, animal welfare, the global economy, changes to working environments due to technology, inequality, obesity and immigration.

“For some the change is deliberate, while for others it’s a gradual shift, going with the tide of changing public sentiment,” the report says.

“For whatever reason, they feel concerned about the status quo, they have a sense that they want things to change and they recognize that they can have some influence in changing them.”

australia mean conscientiousness responses table


Favouring more responsible brands

  • 38% of Australians in the past 12 months had ‘sometimes’ bought one brand over another because it was more socially responsible,

  • a minority of respondents had been proactive with this behaviour – 16% responded with ‘often’ and 5% with ‘always’, and

  • more than 40% ‘rarely’ (24%) or ‘never’ (17%) undertook this behaviour.


Avoiding less responsible brands

  • 35% of Australians had ‘sometimes’ avoided brands with poor ethics in the past 12 months,

  • more than two-fifths avoided them ‘rarely’ (24%) or ‘never’ (19%), and

  • 16% often avoided them, while a hard-core 6% ‘always’ did.


Paying more for responsible brands

  • Just less than half of Australians were unwilling to pay more for conscientious brands (19% ‘never’ and 28% ‘rarely’),

  • 36% would be ‘sometimes’ willing, and

  • those who were most willing to pay more responded with ‘often’ (14%) and ‘always’ (4%).


Actively buying responsible brands

  • 47% of respondents actively bought brands with a reputation for responsible and sustainable behaviour (37% ‘somewhat agree’ and 10% ‘strongly agree’),

  • 18% disagreed with actively buying responsible brands (5% ‘strongly disagree’ and 13% somewhat disagree’), and

  • 35% of respondents were non-committal on the issue.


Recommending responsible brands

  • 39% of respondents actively recommended responsible brands (30% ‘somewhat’ and 9% ‘strongly’),

  • 38% were undecided on whether to recommend them, and

  • less than a quarter do not do this (14% ‘somewhat not’ and 9% ‘strongly not’).


Considering brand credentials more in the future

  • Just less than half of respondents agreed they would give more consideration to brands’ ethical contributions in future (37% ‘somewhat’ and 8% ‘strongly’),

  • 41% of people were neutral on the idea, and

  • 14% said they would not do so.


Would like to support responsible brands

  • More than half of respondents agreed they would like to buy brands that let them support wellbeing and sustainability (46% ‘somewhat’ and 12% ‘strongly’), and

  • 11% disagreed (6% ‘somewhat disagree’ and 5% ‘strongly disagree’).


Likely loyalty to responsible brands

  • More than half of respondents believed they would be “liely to be more loyal to brands that are responsible, ethical and sustainable” (44% ‘somewhat agree’ and 14% ‘strongly agree’),

  • 31% were undecided, and

  • 11% disagreed (7% ‘somewhat disagree’ and 4% ‘strongly disagree’).

Michelle Herbison
BY Michelle Herbison ON 2 October 2014
Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.