Social enterprise has been on the rise for the last half decade. More and more consumers are turning toward ethical brands when making shopping decisions. I believe the statistics below are starting to prove this. Social enterprise is not just some cute, feel good story anymore, it is a viable player in the future of business, commerce, and solving issues. A new report from Mintel presents us with many interesting social enterprise statistics that I think may surprise marketers, businesses, and consumers as a whole.
Over half of Americans stop buying from companies they believe are unethical: https://t.co/sHgyTWc40Y
— Mintel Research News (@mintelnews) November 18, 2015
Ethical products and brands have exploded over the past few years giving consumers options that have never been presented to them before. There is basically an ethical alternative to every single product on the market and consumers are learning more and more about them. We as consumers have never really had this power before. The power to solve issues both domestically and internationally by using our purchasing power to support our favorite causes.
Here are the 10 most interesting social enterprise statistics that the report revealed:
- 56% of US consumers stopped buying from companies they believe are unethical
- 35% of consumers stopped buying from brands they perceive as unethical even if there is no substitute available
- 63% of consumers feel that ethical issues are becoming more important
- 49% of consumers say they trust small companies to do the right thing
- 36% of consumers say they trust big businesses to do the right thing
- The most commonly considered factor when determining a company’s ethics is employee treatment (48%), followed by where its products are made (34%) and if the brand/ or product is environmentally friendly (33%)
- 34% of consumers tell others when they believe a brand to be making ethical actions or actions that are honest and fair
- 29% of consumers take to social media to share their support of ethical companies
- 58% of consumers revealed that buying ethically produced products makes them feel good
- Consumers are more likely to consider outreach in local communities (22%) over national (18%) or global (13%) outreach
These are definite signs of progress for the ethical consumer base. As more people share the honest and fair practices of ethical brands the more other consumers are willing to listen. Peer to peer recommendations are the most valued of any other recommendation a brand can recive. So, when people start talking and especially sharing ethical brands on social media more and more consumers will gravitate towards more of their purchases being made from ethical brands.
However, as the report also indicates, ethical brands still have some work to do. Because of ethical impersonators in the market as well, many consumers choose to disregard the ethical label and business model and believe its just a marketing stunt by the brand. These consumers are not wrong, in fact they are completely correct in most cases. Many companies are jumping on the ethical bandwagon to profit from its gain in popularity.
52% of Americans agree that marketing products as “ethical” is just a way for companies to manipulate consumers
49% of Americans believe companies behave ethically in one area while behaving unethically in another
68% percent of Americans are confused about what certain ethical icons mean
What do all these statistics show us? Well, I believe it shows that we have a more educated and informed consumer base then we have ever had. We have more consumers learning about ethical brands and making powerful purchasing decisions. We have more consumers sharing brand stories about the social good they are doing and how each purchase can have an impact. We have informed consumers knowing that there are impostors out there and for now choose to stay away.
I believe all these are very promising steps in our consumer culture. Social enterprise is a great force in our market economy and has real potential to help solve some real issues. Numbers and statistics certainly don’t tell the entire picture, but it does give us a snapshot of how consumers feel about ethical products and businesses.
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Founder of Causeartist + Social Entrepreneur + Partner at Charity Charge.