Modern Consumer Ethics: Is Your Business Green Enough?
Modern consumers care about ethics enough to put their money where their mouth is, and this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Failing to be ethical, especially as far as sustainable business practices are concerned, will affect your bottom line.
Ecology as a Lifestyle
According to research by British company YouGov and Guardian News & Media, economic austerity is not making a dent in consumer spending in green and ethical areas. Almost all of the people surveyed participated in recycling, energy conservation, and other 'green' habits. Considering the environment in one's daily actions is second nature to modern consumers, so the cost of buying ethical products from green companies is one they are willing to pay for.
The Jump from Green Buying to Other Ethical Consumer Behavior
Other ethical behaviors are beginning to gain popularity as well. Consumers increasingly care about fair trade, buying local, and other business ethics. The result is that companies that are not perceived as ethical will fall behind in the modern economy.
On the other hand, the vast scope of environmental problems is creating a sense of helplessness that may slow the growth of green businesses. According to an urban sustainability analyst with an online Master's of Civil Engineering degree, just under half of adults in the UK think their personal behavior impacts climate change. On top of this rising cynicism, there is a reluctance in this economic downturn to invest in expensive green products such as electric cars and solar energy.
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
Despite a feeling of helplessness in the face of huge issues, modern consumers are more willing than ever to buy green and ethical products. Almost 70% say that they will choose ethical products over conventional ones when these are available. When coupled with an unwillingness to spend a great deal more on these products, modern consumers place businesses in a difficult position. Businesses need to be perceived as green and ethical without drastically increasing prices.
The Bottom Line
There are a few ways that businesses can be greener without huge price hikes. First, reducing waste requires an investment but often leads to cost savings and less impact on the environment. In addition, simply expressing a sense of responsibility in branding and marketing can improve customer perceptions of a business. Last, showing concern for local communities, such as by being visibly involved in service, creates a greener image without huge expenditure.
About Emma Sturgis
Emma is a freelance writing currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on business and technology. When not writing, she enjoys watching old movies and rock climbing