Half of shoppers would avoid brands with unethical suppliers

29 September 2021

More than half of UK consumers would avoid buying from brands accused of working with unethical suppliers, according to research.

In a survey by OpenText, 53% of consumers said they would never buy from a brand again if it was accused of working with unethical suppliers, and would instead look to find an alternative brand that engaged in responsible sourcing.

The research, involving a survey of 2,000 people in the UK, considered the extent to which environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business practices mattered to consumers and influenced their purchasing behaviour.

OpenText said the poll, conducted by 3Gem, found the pandemic had made consumers more mindful of the impact of purchases.

Eight in 10 (82%) consumers said post pandemic they planned to prioritise buying from companies that made it clear they had ethical sourcing strategies in place. This compared to 69% who said they prioritised such companies before the pandemic.

Nearly half (48%) said they judged a brand based on the actions of its suppliers.

Three-quarters (76%) were willing to pay more if they could be sure a product had been ethically sourced or produced, while 29% were willing to spend 25%-50% more.

Purchasing ethically sourced or produced items mattered to 72% of respondents, but 24% admitted it had only started to matter to them in the last year or so.

Eight in 10 (79%) said they were willing to compromise convenience, such as accepting a slower delivery, if they could be sure an item had been ethically sourced or produced.

Lou Blatt, senior vice president at OpenText, said creating an ethical supply chain required having visibility into every supplier.

“The ethically-minded consumer is exercising more control over their buying power,” he said. “Brands can no longer claim they act responsibly if they have no visibility into their operations or those of their suppliers.”

The government should introduce regulation that holds businesses more accountable for responsible sourcing, said 61% of respondents.

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