Consumers Would Pay 5-10% More for Ethical Brands: Survey

Consumers in five of the world's leading economies believe business ethics have worsened in the past five years and are turning to "ethical consumerism" to make companies more accountable, according to a study by GfK NOP, seen exclusively by the Financial Times.

Highlights:

  • 64% of respondents in Germany and 55% in the US perceive the worst deterioration in corporate practices
  • Almost 50% of the consumers in the UK, France and Spain also judged that corporate ethical behavior had worsened
  • 43% of respondents across all five countries judged that brands with "ethical" claims - on environmental policies or treatment of staff and suppliers, for instance - would make business more answerable to the public.
  • About a third of respondents said they would pay a 5-10% price premium for many ethical products.
  • Nike was among the most ethically rated brands in four countries. It did not feature at all in the UK. 

Multinationals hoping to tap this market will have to address conflicting national definitions and attitudes towards ethical brands and a recurring tendency to equate ethical with local operators.

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