Expert Opinion: The demand for ethical brands

By Gary Clifton, NFU Mutual (Preston Agency) 

Recently there has been a noticeable rise in brands claiming to be authentic, ethical and local. The burning question for retailers is, are these socially-responsible businesses answering a genuine consumer need? Or can this be dismissed as just another fad? Well, the situation does mirror a shift among consumers living healthier, more ethical lives.  

Whether that’s buying from farmers’ markets or choosing local business over corporate giants, consumers are sending a message. Where the exotic was once desirable, locally-sourced is now the ultimate badge of honour. Brands and retailers need to take notice. 

Authentic to the core 

A stand-out example of a brand which places ethics and localism at its core is the Co-op. The brand recently reinstated its ‘clover leaf’ logo to signal a renewed commitment to a proud ethical heritage. Outside retail, at NFU Mutual our own community-focused values are why we operate from hundreds of local rural branches. These roots in the community also contribute to our customer service success and differentiate us from the online-only competition. 

Deloitte’s consumer tracker report identified wellness and responsibility as the new basis of brand loyalty. They say emotional ties to national brands will likely decline due to our increased focus on personal health, the environment, and social impact. 

The future? 

The appetite for authentic is growing. Global trend analysts Nielsen surveyed 30,000 people in 60 countries and found 66% of respondents would pay more for sustainable goods. Many of those willing to pay extra to companies committed to sustainability were consumers under 34. Grace Farraj, public development and sustainability expert at Nielsen, concluded: “Brands that establish a reputation for environmental stewardship among today’s youngest consumers have an opportunity to not only grow market share but build loyalty among the power-spending Millennials of tomorrow, too.” 

To find out more talk to us at NFU Mutual Preston agency on 01772 735798.