56% have stopped buying a brand because of ethics

leverage markets that care

There is much talk these days about ethics, values, and corporate social responsibility – and rightly so. These are increasingly important subjects.

This is the ninth of 10 THOUGHTS addressing ethics, values, and CSR in marketing.

A recent survey found that 56% of consumers have stopped buying a brand because they considered it to have been behaving unethically. Some 35% of the sample reported having done so in the absence of a clear alternative and 27% did so even though their believed the competitor product to be inferior.
These finds might have a number of implications. Two I consider important are:

  • Firstly, they highlight the importance of ethics to an increasing number of consumers
  • Secondly, they point to the potential of ethics and values as a marketing tool

Research has found time and again, all around the world that consumers are becoming more concerned about the ethical behaviour and values of the businesses they work with or buy from.

This has been addressed at some length in previous THOUGHTS in this series.

Empirical evidence has pointed increasingly to potential for targeting consumers who are engaged with social and environmental issues and as a result attracted to business’ they consider ethical and having values consistent with their own. This has been reflected in the growth of:

  • Ethical investing services for consumers
  • Banks refusing to invest in coal assets
  • Organic cropping and sustainable agriculture
  • Tuna harvested with no threats to dolphins

There is little doubt that there are significant environmentally and social conscious market segments where ethical standards and values are not just important but important enough for products and services to attract a premium. The first THOUGHT in this series addressed the potential for ethics and values to be a strategic competitive advantage – citing research suggesting that 66% of consumers surveyed will pay a premium for a sustainable product option.

There is also real potential to go a step further and identify segments of the market that place a high priority on ethics and values and develop a product that specifically addressed their needs – or at least desires. It some consumers are changing brands without a viable alternative – there may be the potential to establish that alternative. I am sure there is.

I see real merit in establishing an ethical marketing business, free from the unethical behaviour so often associated with advertising agencies and will pursue this. I see merit in establishing an ethical branding business – where there is recognition that branding is about human resources not advertising.


Identify niche markets that are concerned about values and ethics and develop goods, services and an approach to business that addresses their needs, wants and expectations Become the ethical opportunity.

Develop ethics and values not just as a strategic competitive advantage but your raison d’etre. Make ethical practise and values the main reason for doing business with you.


Ashton, Nielsen, Business Dictionary, Business Bank of Texas, Digital Marketing Resource Centre, Smart Company, Forbes, American Management Association, Zenzi, Investopedia, Accounting Web, Reliable Plant, Fond, Gallup, Mintel


MORE THOUGHTS – www.djohncarlsonesq.com 

No tags 0