Does Ethical Consumerism have Mass Appeal?

According to Fair-trade figures, UK shoppers spent GBP140 million on goods bearing the Fair-trade logo last year. Coffee appears to be the best seller, with Fair-trade beans being used in many high street cafes, including Starbucks [SBUX], Costa Coffee and Pret a Manger. Does this mean that consumers indicating a willingness to pay for such goods. It certainly suggests evidence that ethical consumerism can generate mass-market appeal, something that the Consumer and Packaged Goods (CPG) industry can no longer ignore.

More than 800 Fair-trade retail and catering products are currently available in the UK, considerably more than approx 150 such products available in 2003. The fair-trade logo certainly helps to establish a brand that people can become familiar with. It is important to note that although Fair-trade sales have tended to appeal to more affluent consumers, there is a need to convince mass-market consumers to pay for its end goal benefits.

Interconnected ethical concerns affecting what we eat and our personal care continue to receive high profile press coverage.

There are also deeper issues, for example, are consumers willing to boycott products on ethical issues? Recent statistics show that 68% of consumers in the US and Europe have done so.

The mid 1980s Bhopal accident ranks as the world’s worst industrial disaster, with over 3,400 fatalities and at least 50,000 permanently injured among its victims. There has been no meaningful relief or justice for the victims. In fact, the condition of the surviving victims remains grave. The corporation began selling off assets soon after the accident, presumably to limit its financial liability in case litigation ran against its interests. Chief among these sales were the consumer product and agricultural divisions, perhaps due to their possible use as boycott targets by victim support groups.

An interesting site to visit if you are interested in learning more about corporate ‘affairs’ is: This site contains links to companies that we should watch in terms of their ethical behaviour, track record and corporate responsibility. The range of issues is diverse and the points raised will touch the consensuses of many readers in different ways. Ultimately understanding who to support or side with is your choice, based on your own experiences and personal belief system. One thing is for sure, multi-nationals have a part to play in their responsibilities to basic health, safety and need to reduce the sin of greed.

Please follow the suggested tips for ethical shopping & activities:

* When out shopping opt for using local shops, thus avoiding generating unnecessary pollution.
* Find wholefood shops – Increasingly, they are stocking fair trade products
* Fair trade – Find books that advise you on fair trade goods and their associated High Street availability.
* Avoid beauty products tested on animals
* Try Organic produce, free of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, that benefit the workforce, the consumer and the environment.
* Use Non-genetically altered food
* Consider Ethical money – Find banks that offer a truly ethical stance, for example : the co-op.
* Understand the importance of recycling & redeploying second hand items – Recycled and second hand products save precious resources and reduce pressure on landfill sites.
* When using wood Products look for the FSC logo – Many timber products reach the UK having originated from unsustainably managed forests. The Forest Stewardship Council operates an independent verification of sustainable timber and paper products. Please look out for the FSC logo.

Remember, at the end of the day all responsible behaviour starts with us.

Categories: 2005

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: