Understanding Britain's upmarket ethical consumers

Latest insight from Kantar Media's Premier TGI study, of the most upmarket and affluent British adults, reveals that tapping into ethical consumers can reap enormous rewards for marketers.

Company ethics are fast becoming an essential part of business in Britain. Ethical advertising campaigns are on the increase as brands respond to the rise in consumer awareness of corporate social responsibility.

We have created a group of these "ethical consumers" who consist of those who "definitely agree" that it is important that a company acts ethically and also agree that they would be prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products. This is a sizeable group of 1.7 million – 11% of all upmarket consumers in Britain. Such a potent mix of affluence and strong ethical views make these consumers an attractive and important group for marketers to target.

Ethical consumers do not just expect corporations to be conscious of their ethics and green credentials - they actively make green choices in their day-to-day lives. They are 55% more likely than the average upmarket adult to re-use empty items like bottles and jars, and they are 46% more likely to make an effort to cut down on the use of gas and electricity at home.

When it comes to their motivation to work and do business, they are 65% more likely to think social responsibility is the most important factor, indicating their ethical views transcend both their personal and professional lives.

Insight from Premier TGI reveals which prominent companies these ethical consumers feel have the best ethical behaviour. Media owners rank highest for this group: they are 41% and 40% more likely to think the BBC and Channel 4 respectively display good ethical behaviour. The Body Shop and John Lewis also rank highly. This fits as John Lewis are the largest employee-owned company in the UK and the Body Shop’s core values are based on nature and social responsibility.

In fact, the Body Shop has a prevailing impact on these ethical consumers. It also ranks highly when it comes to their view of the Body Shop’s success and products. The consistency of this positive view of the Body Shop across company success, products and ethical behaviour indicates that this group take their ethical views seriously and these views genuinely influence their purchase behaviour.

These ethical consumers tend to rely on the internet for a variety of purposes. They are 58% more likely than the average upmarket consumer to stream radio, 22% more likely to regularly watch TV online, and more than a million make an online purchase once a month or more.

The good news for marketers is that these ethical consumers are also an easily influenced bunch: they are more than a third more likely to say they are influenced by comments posted online by other internet users.

Ethical consumers are also influencers themselves. In particular, they are more likely to influence others when it comes to restaurants, holidays and new technology.

Ethical consumers are also influencers themselves. In particular, they are more likely to influence others when it comes to restaurants, holidays and new technology. In fact, they are 31% more likely than the average upmarket consumer to be a Word of Mouth champion for holidays - that is to say they promote key messages, have strong product knowledge and carry the power of persuasion.

They are also more likely to leave comments on a blog, indicating that they interact with other opinionated consumers online. Ethical consumers, therefore, have the potential to help brand messages spread virally, if targeted correctly.

When it comes to reaching these ethical consumers, a mixed-media campaign could well reach the widest audience. Insight from Premier TGI reveals they are 26% more likely to be amongst the heaviest fifth of radio-listeners. They are also 21% more likely to be amongst the heaviest fifth of newspaper readers and similarly more likely to rely on newspapers to keep them informed.

Close to a fifth of this group often notice adverts on taxis and a similar proportion notice products and brands that appear in television programmes. In line with their online habits, they are also 49% more likely than the average upmarket adult to be willing to pay to access content on magazine or newspaper websites.

Implementing a strategy to reach ethical consumers efficiently is crucial for marketers in today’s world. Ethical values can sometimes be the linchpin in a purchase decision and so must not be overlooked.

Premier TGI is an annual survey of adults (aged 20+) in Great Britain who have either a household income or savings and investments of £50,000+ or who are in the top AB-social grades. The survey is based on a robust sample of c.6,5000.

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