Most shoppers ignore ethical issues

Only four per cent of people actually act on the ethical issues they claim to care about, a new survey has found.

Only four per cent of people actually act on the ethical issues they claim to care about when shopping, a new consumer research poll has found.

Global research company StreetBees, which gathers what it calls ‘moments of life’ by text or photos from a network of 2.5 million ‘users’, said that the new data proves that people “regularly say one thing, but do another”.

A recent survey done by the company collected information from 2,500 of these users relating to their claimed and actual sustainability buying decisions.  

Farmers market
Not everyone acts on their ethical concerns when shopping. Image Flickr/a canvas of light. 

Around 80 per cent of respondents said they consider sustainable issues when making purchases, but only four per cent said they act on this at the point of buying.

“Despite the majority of consumers claiming that they consider the sustainability issues involved when buying products, in the moment of purchase, it’s rarely a factor,” said Scott Kneller, vice president of growth at Streetbees.

“This has huge consequences for big brands and retailers alike. Consumers are telling them that they want more sustainable products, but this doesn’t necessarily affect how they behave at the counter.”

The survey also found that over half of those asked who claim to have changed their behaviour, in relation to things like plastic or diet, admitted that in the moment of purchase they aren’t aware, or don’t care, if the product they buy is sustainable.

Streetbees said that while there were some variations in attitudes, the gap between claimed and actual sustainability behaviour was common across country, age and gender.

Its users, known as ‘bees’, use text, photos and videos to report what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, and the context behind their consumption decisions, rather than claimed behaviour from traditional market research.


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  1. That’s a depressingly low figure, but pretty much represents the number of empaths in the population. The similar percentage that have Antisocial Personality Disorders such as sociopathy, extreme narcissism, etc., obviously don’t care, but it should be possible to get the apath majority to change their ways. Not while we have sociopaths in government who are busy creating and maintaining a selfish and uncaring society though. And , of course, some who do care haven’t the money to make a choice at present, because they are only just surviving themselves.


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