Why less than half of consumers are positive about ethical purchasing – study

60% of consumers are negative, indifferent or ambivalent about ethical purchasing and less than half (41.5%) feel positively towards it, a study by researchers at Sydney’s UTS has found.

 

The study, published in the European Journal of Marketing and conducted by Paul Burke, Christine Eckhert and Stacey Davis, segmented consumers into three groups regarding their attitudes to ethical purchasing: positive (41.5%), negative or indifferent (33.5%) and mixed view (25%).

Interviews and online surveys revealed the following insights about these three groups:

 

Positive attitude towards ethical purchasing – more likely to be:

  • Female,
  • aged over 55,
  • tertiary educated, and
  • support Liberal rather than Labor.

 

Negative attitude towards ethical purchasing – more likely to be:

  • Male,
  • aged between 35 and 54,
  • do not hold a university degree, and
  • support Liberal rather than Labor.

 

Mixed view towards ethical purchasing – more likely to be:

  • Female,
  • hold a university degree, and
  • support Labor or the Greens.

 

Consumers’ views most often reflected the following sentiments:

 

Top five reasons people choose ethical products:

  1. It helps make a difference,
  2. they genuinely care about the issue,
  3. the products are healthier,
  4. they can save money, and
  5. the product is higher quality.

 

Top five reasons people don’t choose ethical products:

  1. 1.They’re confused about what makes a product ethical,
  2. they’re too expensive,
  3. they are sceptical about how ethical products are,
  4. they don’t give it much thought, and
  5. they have to go to specialty stores.

 

The research confirmed the view that marketers of ethical products are most likely to find success targeting women.

It dispelled the notion that people buy ethical products for ‘public’ reasons such as social status or to be seen as an opinion leader.

Michelle Herbison
BY Michelle Herbison ON 12 February 2015
Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.