Most people would think that in times of a crisis, consumers would only look for low prices, but a new report shows that this is not quite the case.
The Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Consumerism Report 2011 suggested that ethical products conveying messages on sustainability are becoming more popular in the UK. The report indicated that sales of “sustainable” goods rose by 8.8% to £46.8bn in 2010.
Ethical products account for 9% of the total public expenditure, whereas sales stood at just 3% back in 1999, when the first report was presented.
The good news is that it is not just consumers who have become more savvy of the so-called guilt-free products, but brands themselves are getting increasingly responsible.
Apparently, the biggest winner is the food producing sector, which has soared by 36% over the past twelve months to just over £1bn, with several of the biggest manufacturers already using Fairtrade products. Sustainable fish saw one of the greatest increases, up 16.3% to £207m. Eco-power generation tools such as solar panels and wind turbines were up 386% to £248m. In the car market, hybrid and electric cars enjoyed a 129% lift, with £846m spent, constituting a huge growth from £4m in 1999. At the other end of the spectrum, organic food sales decreased by 10% to £1.5bn, down from the peak of £2bn registered in 2008.
Barry Clavin, one of the authors of the report, commented that it is a surprise that ethical products have continued to gain on popularity despite the economic downturn.