New breed of conscientious shopper places products and ethics on equal footing

Millions of Britons believe that the reputation of a company is as important as its products and will make spending decisions accordingly, suggests new research into 'corpsumers'.

Meet the corpsumers: ethically conscious consumers who place a company's reputation on the same footing as its products or services
Meet the corpsumers: ethically conscious consumers who place a company's reputation on the same footing as its products or services

A study of 1,000 UK consumers, commissioned by MWWPR, reveals that one in four (24 per cent) place a company’s values, actions, and corporate reputation on an equal footing to its products or services.

The research, conducted by Wakefield Research this summer, shows that 93 per cent of this group - dubbed 'corpsumers' - expect brands to take a stand on social issues such as the environment, animal welfare, and the way in which they treat their workers.

Reputational factors such as corporate citizenship, employee well-being, and opinions of leadership directly impact on the purchasing decisions of corpsumers.

This ethically aware type of consumer are more likely than the average consumer to be well-educated, high-income earners in their age group, full-time employees, parents and a member of either the Gen-Z or Millennial generations, the research says.

They pride themselves on their influence over others and use social media as their most trusted source to gather information about companies, it adds.

The demographic exercises influence over other types of consumers, often encouraging others to buy a product or switch to a new product based on their values, according to the research, which was released yesterday.

Carreen Winters, MWWPR’s chairman of reputation and chief strategy officer, said: "CorpSumers are staunch advocates when they believe in a brand and vocal detractors when their trust is broken."

CorpSumers are equally likely to use their influence to support companies as to object to them, with around three quarters sharing positive company news on their social media (76 per cent) and 74 per cent sharing negative news.

She added: "But what makes the CorpSumer different from the general population is the fact that they act on their beliefs and encourage others to do the same."

Around half (52 per cent) will buy products that disappoint them because of their support for what the company stands for. 

Yet while some 71 per cent of corpsumers have encouraged others to buy from a brand they believe in, 73 per cent have actively encouraged others to abandon a brand that they don’t believe in.

CorpSumers will reward companies that take a stand, with 90 per cent saying they would try a company’s products for the first time and 83 per cent claiming they would pay a premium for products from such companies, according to the research.

Winters commented: "The rise in CEO activism globally along with increasing advocacy on societal issues by consumers creates an opportunity for brands to earn consumer trust, loyalty and advocacy by taking a public stance on important policy and societal matters."

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