Consumers seek responsible products despite the recession

Consumers seek responsible products despite the recession

New research shows that despite the recession, shoppers are actively seeking out more responsible products.


The proportion of shoppers looking out for responsible labels on the products they buy has increased by seven percent over the past two years. The most popular responsible label is “Free Range” which 34 percent of shoppers seek out when choosing what to buy.

The latest report from Shoppercentric, an independent agency specialising in shopper research, entitled: “WindowOn the Considered Shopper” reveals how purchasing habits have changed as a result of the recession and explores where ethical and environmentally friendly products now fit in.

It also serves as an update (in part) to Shoppercentric’s “WindowOn Ethical shopping” report which was published in 2010.

“There is no doubt shoppers have to be more considered in their shopping these days,” says Shoppercentric’s Managing Director and FMCG News columnist, Danielle Pinnington.

“The ‘have it all’ times have gone, and the ‘do I really need it’ days are here. Shoppers are being more prudent and responsible in their buying behaviour and as a result they are taking small steps towards becoming more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

“The interesting thing is that shoppers don’t yet appear to be making that link themselves – for them, being environmentally friendly is more about what they buy, rather than how they buy and consume.

“This might feel like splitting hairs, but it’s a crucial point for retailers and brands and something that they could help develop more quickly.

“Our research explores all of these trends and looks at how saving the planet can still have a role to play at a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet.”

Key findings of the report include

– Among the top issues on shoppers’ minds are “Family health” and the “UK economy”;

– Shoppers are actively searching out responsible labels when choosing what to buy; 

– The factors that would encourage more shoppers to purchase ethically are cost; ease; reassurance and access;

– Shoppers not impacted by the economic situation are also the least concerned about responsible shopping;

– There has been an increase in the number of responsible labels that shoppers seek out across the board.

The report also reveals how shoppers see responsibility being shared out – in ranked order of those who should take responsibility first

– Government & brand owners/manufacturers;

– Retailers;

– General population;

– Producers e.g. farmers etc.

Danielle advised: “Retailers and brands need to convince shoppers of the value offered by responsible products, but perhaps a more far reaching opportunity for them is to help shoppers make more of a connection between prudent and responsible shopping.

“In doing so, there is a chance that the environmental agenda not only has more direct relevance to shoppers, but also starts to feel more accessible, every day, and top of mind – thereby raising the possibility that shopper behaviour and priorities can be shifted for the long term as a result.

“Feedback from our research also indicates that shoppers want to be responsible in their shopping but they expect more than just ‘ethical noise’ from retailers and brands – they need to demonstrate real commitment in this area.

“That said, they don’t expect retailers and manufacturers to do everything, but they are looking for retailers to at least treat suppliers ethically and use local suppliers where possible.

“At the end of the day shoppers believe manufacturers and retailers should behave responsibly as a matter of course so that the decision to opt in, if you like, is taken away from financially constrained shoppers.

“Today’s savvy shoppers are looking for companies to live and breathe responsibility through products and processes, rather than just referring to it in corporate PR campaigns.”

For more consumer insight look out for Danielle’s blog, coming soon.

Holly Aston